With the influx of Venture Capital and overall interests in Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM), the rest of the legal industry is finally figuring out what InnoLaw‘s Lucy Bassli has known for years; contracts are sexy. We sit down with Lucy to discuss her second book, CLM Simplified: Efficient Contracting for Law Departments and the potential of making the contract process faster, better, easier, smarter, more efficient, operationalized, and automated is the concept that is so appealing. Lucy Bassli’s experience in-house with Microsoft helped launch her new career advising other in-house and outside counsel on legal operations, and how to really communicate with one another in ways to produce true innovation.
The Debt Relief Clinic was named the 2022 recipient of the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access for its commitment to increasing legal services to low-income Tennesseans and reaching that goal through the innovative use of technology.
We talked about the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance back in August of 2020 (Ep. 83), well our guest, Skadden’s Brenna DeVaney along with Cravath’s Kiisha Morrow talk with Thomson Reuter’s Thomas Kim to catch us all up on the progress that LFAA member firms are doing in order to keep up the momentum we all felt after the summer of 2020.
Music: As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.
Marlene Gebauer 0:19
Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer,
Greg Lambert 0:26
And I’m Greg Lambert. Marlene, I think we’re finally close enough now that I feel comfortable saying that I think both of us are going to be at LegalWeek in New York in a couple of weeks. And for me, it’s I know, it’s going to be my first plane trip since I think March of 2020. So, you know, I’ve lost every bit of my Southwest rewards, status, so I’m going to be in the C group.
Marlene Gebauer 0:52
That’s a bummer. That’s a bummer. It’s like well, I have been on a plane a few times since March 2020. And I can tell you flying is no reward lately. But I’m very happy and very grateful to be headed to LegalWeek and to the Big Apple. Fingers crossed.
Greg Lambert 1:06
Gonna be nice. So speaking of nice. The nice folks at ALM have set aside an area on the third floor there at legal week for podcast recording. So you know, we may grab some people as we walk the hallways there. I’ll wear my “Let me tell you about my podcast” T-shirt.
Marlene Gebauer 1:29
I’ll wear my subversive radio host jacket.
Greg Lambert 1:34
So if you see us either come up to us if you want to do an interview or run from us if you don’t.
Marlene Gebauer 1:41
Yeah, I’m really excited that we have that space. So that’s gonna be good.
Greg Lambert 1:44
Oh, well, the guest this week is Lucy Bassli from InnoLaw group. And you know, we have a really wonderful conversation with her ranging from her work guiding in-house and outside counsel interactions. And you know, we even got to morph a Kenny Chesney song along the way about how contracts are sexy. So I think people will want to hang around for that.
Marlene Gebauer 2:09
Yeah, we definitely had range on this one. So, stick around for that. But now let’s get to this week’s information inspirations.
Marlene Gebauer 2:21
Debt Relief clinic has been named the 2022 recipient of the Louis M. Brown award for legal access. The award is presented by the ABA to those who further the organization’s mission to expand access to legal services in ways that are remarkable and able to be replicated. The clinic was developed by Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Legal Division, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, and US bankruptcy Judge Suzanne Bauknight. The virtual clinic is reported to serve clients in the Eastern District of Tennessee. These clients comprise up to 200% of the federal poverty level. The clinic has 20 volunteer attorneys assisting 37 clients. Clients are provided with an overview of bankruptcy law and personal legal advice via private Zoom rooms. attorneys often offer pro bono or reduced-fee bankruptcy representation. Their work also helps to generate income for lawyers who offer affordable services. The clinic partners include the Tennessee alliance for legal services, the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Initiative, and local bar associations. So I love that story. I love that success story. And I hope they continue to develop that.
Greg Lambert 3:27
Yeah. You know, that made me think back on I can’t remember the name was it was at Franklin law school? That they tried to get started in East Tennessee, which was going to be able to hopefully pump out some lawyers for that area of Appalachia. But I think the ABA decided they didn’t need a cheap law firm in that area. So at least somebody is doing some work there. So well, my inspiration kind of brings us back from one of our episodes back in August of 2020, with Brenna DeVaney, on the law firm, anti-racism Alliance, or the or the LFA. So Brenda, who’s with Skadden and Kiisha Morrow, who’s with Cravath, talk to Thomas Kim from Thomson Reuters and update us on how over 300 law firms are now members of the LFAA, and I think there were like 240 when we talk to her, so that is great. They’ve gone up a bit. There’s a lot more volunteer work going on within the LFA. And there are over 1000 lawyers working with the association to promote their mission. So it’s important organizations like this that are still showing progress as we get further and further away from the momentum that we all felt after the George Floyd murder, what that created. So go check out the interview. And if you are in one of those law firms that are part of the law firm anti-racism Alliance you know, reach out to those in your firm and find out what they’re doing, and if it’s important to you see if you can also volunteer.
Marlene Gebauer 5:04
Greg Lambert 5:05
All right. And that wraps up this week’s information inspirations.
Greg Lambert 5:14
Today’s guest spent over 13 years at Microsoft. But a few years ago, she decided to hang out her own shingle as a legal operations consultant where she advises in-house and outside counsel on how to truly find ways to innovate so that both sides benefit.
Marlene Gebauer 5:33
We’d like to welcome Lucy Bassli, Founder and Principal of InnoLaw group, as well as legal strategy advisor for LawGeex. Lucy, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Lucy Bassli 5:41
Thank you so much for having me.
Greg Lambert 5:43
It’s great to have you on. We were talking right before we got on that. We kind of almost crossed paths in Houston. And that our big takeaway was you don’t come to Houston to lose weight.
Lucy Bassli 5:58
So glad I wasn’t there during COVID. That’s all I can say it was bad enough here in the chilly Northwest.
Greg Lambert 6:05
Yeah. So, Lucy, you have just a fantastic and story background as Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft, consultant at next law, and advisor at LawGeex, you know, and then while kind of simultaneous putting out your own shingle, so to speak at InnoLaw. So what does it take to make these sorts of transitions? And what does it you know, specifically does it take to step out on your own?
Lucy Bassli 6:34
A swift kick in the butt! You know, look, everything happens for a reason changes come your way, when you may or may not be expecting them. Life is short, and the work has to be fun. I had my dream job, but a dream company still only have the best things to say about the experience. I had, you know, 13 plus years at Microsoft, where I grew and learned and experimented and really got to find my way to be honest and discovered. I was doing cool stuff before it was cool. Of course, I’ve said contracting is sexy for 20 years. And now look at everybody talking about contracting. get to that in a minute. So it was you know, the combination of things, a lot of interesting opportunities. Were calling me. No one thought, that I felt okay, taking on and I thought, You know what, I’m gonna do a little bit of everything and only do what I love and only with people I like.
Greg Lambert 7:26
Wow, what a concept!
Lucy Bassli 7:26
And that’s been my mantra. I gotta say it’s delightful. So yeah, it look, I’ve been called Brave. I say crazy. But I’ll take brave. And so far knock on wood. It’s been an amazing, amazing ride.
Marlene Gebauer 7:42
So in your spare time, you’ve authored a book CLM Simplified. In it, you ask attorneys to take the pledge to stop calling allied legal professionals, nonlawyers, amen to that. This is a popular term. So tell us why you’re asking for an end to this reference.
Lucy Bassli 8:00
So you know, to be honest, that’s a second book I wrote. So I’ve made this pledge twice, or this plead, you know, twice, begging for us to stop. So my first book I wrote was simple guide to legal innovation, which was really a way for me to just beg lawyers, mostly law firms to do things a little differently just to, to experiment and kind of step out of their comfort zone. And the second book was really focused around specifically contracting or, you know, CLM, Contract Lifecycle Management, you don’t have to look far and wide to see that buzz phrase now, absolutely everywhere in the last 18 months. But the common theory and in both of those, anything about innovation, really anything about everything we do is it comes down to the people, it comes down to the people. And some of the most amazing, supportive, helpful, insightful, intelligent people I’ve worked with, they weren’t my lawyer buddies necessarily. And I learned so much, there was no way I could be even close to being called innovative without the help of program managers, operations managers, business analysts, data analysts, and the list goes on and on. And this whole us or not us concept of lawyers. It just makes me uncomfortable. I feel awkward. It feels weird. When people would go into a meeting and go Well, I’m not a lawyer, but… I mean that disclaimer, it’s just weird and somehow we’re all okay with it and I’m not.
Marlene Gebauer 9:25
You do not really see it in other professions, you know,
Lucy Bassli 9:27
No, and we all talk about the job and I’m going and saying, I’m a nonlawyer, don’t your non-doctor. I’m not non-engineer. We all have now gone down that little jokey path because it’s, it’s easy, but it’s where we are a little offensive because we all work in the same thing in the same day. First of all, let’s call it an industry let’s stop calling it a profession. Yes, we are professionals, but so are program managers and business analysts, and you name it, but we work in an industry, which is a combination of different types of skill sets in professions. Coming together. So, like we said, we have limited time, or else this will be the entire podcast. But yeah, it’s a. It’s just it’s critical that and lawyers are silly for not embracing all these other incredible skill sets. They’re around them. It just
Marlene Gebauer 10:14
Well, I do like what you’re doing because again, there are people in these jobs that are attorneys, but they’re not practicing attorneys. So it’s a little awkward there too.
Lucy Bassli 10:23
Yes, good point. Exactly right.
Greg Lambert 10:25
But I did like how you also pointed out that it’s not all 100% on the lawyer side, that some of us kind of fall into that trap as well to as almost a defensive mechanisms.
Lucy Bassli 10:37
But, you’re conditioned that way. You’re conditioned that way. It’s an It by no means did you come out of college or whatever, you’re in your career. You’re educated that way you are trained that way it is
Greg Lambert 10:48
What’s your profession? Oh, I’m a nonlawyer.
Lucy Bassli 10:52
Just kind of made to feel you know, you’re outside a little club. And it’s Yeah,
Marlene Gebauer 10:56
I don’t want to be a non-anything.
Lucy Bassli 10:59
Marlene Gebauer 11:01
So, Lucy, you’re a commercial transaction lawyer. What is it about contracting that you think is so sexy?
Lucy Bassli 11:07
So here’s the thing, I can negotiate the inside of a document till I’m blue in the face. And I have I’ve done enough of them to know where that little dance goes every single time at this point. Yes, they’re still going to be your fun, exciting ones. But those are sadly, few and far between, and most commercial contracts lawyers, we spend our time renegotiating similar concepts over and over and over again. What I find sexy is when you can do it faster, you can do it more efficiently, when you can get to that end business goal, which is really what a contract should be all about. Quicker. And I think lawyers, you know, we’re trying to look for every possible thing that can go wrong in a contract. And so we draft words to protect and prevent every possible thing from going wrong. And we’ve heard the old adage, contracts are written by lawyers for lawyers, that is largely true. And that is another terrible outcome of the profession. Right? The legal profession.
Marlene Gebauer 12:04
So that is a problem.
Lucy Bassli 12:05
So, the sexiest thing I find is really all about “how” not the “what” are the words inside the four corners, so to speak. Those of us who went to law school, the four corners of the document, we all heard that before. But guess what’s cooler to me is how do I move those four corners super-fast, through a very complex corporate entity, whether it is a 500 person company or a 100,000 person company, it’s the same problems over and over again. So I just love the potential to make it faster, better, easier, smarter, more efficient, operationalize it, obviously, automation. So that’s really I think, to me the core part. Yes, every once in a while a nice gnarly negotiation gets your juices flowing, and you flex your muscles and you feel good. But those aren’t every day. Every day is exhausting. It’s a deluge of contracts coming at you. There’s got to be a better way. So I love finding the better way.
Greg Lambert 13:01
Oh, all I could hear in my head was a was a version of the Kenny Chesney, She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy song converted over into contracts.
Lucy Bassli 13:10
How long have you been in Texas?
Greg Lambert 13:13
Apparently too long. Well, you know, selling innovation to clients, that innovation is becoming an ongoing requirement, and you just can’t sell what you just don’t understand. So how is it that the billable hour impedes attorneys’ ability to learn and tell the story, you know that that need to look up from your desk and see those trends that are happening?
Lucy Bassli 13:44
Just hand me the soapbox, Greg, why don’t you?
Greg Lambert 13:48
The floor is yours.
Lucy Bassli 13:50
Be careful what you say. So first of all, that you can sell what you don’t know I you know, I’ve said that a million times. And I didn’t know you were saying it at the same time. But we’re clearly on the exact same page, you really can’t. And so that’s one of the biggest challenges I see with law firms. So part of the work when I kind of first one out of Microsoft, I was splitting my brain in two places. One was really worth thinking about how do I work with law firms and had some really interesting and great exciting engagements around innovation, you know, at law firms, and then how do I work with corporate law departments and those are, they’re just different beasts, completely different beasts. You know, on the law firm side, this rush to selling innovation is nice because it’s reactive to what clients are asking for. Number one, clients don’t always know what to ask for. So it’s easy to throw out this just big open-ended. Tell us about your innovation strategy. It’s in every single RFP today. I will guarantee you and bet that the responses are mostly useless. Their high level, their words are correct. Some pictures some graphs might be useful. It does nothing. For the person who’s deciding on the RFP. I will say that just let’s just take that as an experience, and then I’ve seen it enough to know that. So we’re in a little odd place right now with innovation when it comes to law firms. Because there is an interest, there’s a desire, there’s an understood need. But there is a disconnect between the language and the needs actually, of the client. And what the firm is hearing and responding to. Some firms are doing really a concerted effort to try to bridge that gap. But there’s no magic answer. And each one’s doing it a little bit differently, going at it a little bit of a different way. These various innovation roles are kind of forming and storming and reforming and redefining. So we’re in very much a transformative time right now. But to the spiciest, part of your question, the root of all evil of innovation, and the let’s say the blocker to innovation is the billable hour, it is 100%, the business model of the law firm, it just is there’s nothing about it that you can’t point to say yet, that’s another reason that that innovation just can’t happen. Because what is innovation? It’s just creativity. It’s just modernizing, it’s just doing things, I’m going to make it even simpler, frankly. That’s what I focused on. My first book is really simplifying innovation is, hey, if you do anything a little bit faster, or a little bit better today than you did yesterday, that makes for a better experience, either for you, the practicing lawyer, or for your clients, then I’m gonna call that innovation. Can we lower the bar? Because we also have frightened so many lawyers, out of the concept of innovation, that it’s a bit of a no-win right now. The bar is pretty high, you got to be in this whole little Club of AI, techie, brainy. Little echo chamber, we all have going well swim in the same pond, hey, I’m in it, I get it, that the regular practicing lawyer that’s out there, watching their billable hours, tick, tick tick every day, they have no time, they have no time to understand it, they have no time to get involved. They don’t think they’re they belong, they don’t have a home, they’re not welcomed, necessarily. So it’s easier to just look away and hope it goes away. Meanwhile, inside their firm, they also have a little group of people who swim in their pond inside the firm. And they’re the innovation team. Knowledge management, operations, put in all the words that are synonymous for operationalizing. How the law department, you know, sorry, how the law firm runs. The practicing lawyers, again, don’t feel connected to that. They don’t know what to do with that. They don’t know my favorite quote, can I just my favorite, favorite quote, please. Global, big, ginormous firm, everybody knows, practice group leader, Global Practice Group Leader, a brilliant person, by all accounts and measures. A Texan by the way, but that’s all I’m gonna say. She’s an incredible quotes to me. Listen, we’ve got these great innovation guys. And some of them are even sitting down the hall, but I don’t know what they do. It continues, my clients keep squawking about this. But I really just don’t know what to do. That set it all. For me. This is a farm with enormous resources that are trying in every possible way to do the right thing. The clients are asking for it. And then here you have a very impactful, very successful, resourceful practice, group lead, doesn’t know where to start. So something’s broken and wrong. Because at the end of the day, how’s that person being compensated? Hours. That’s the reality of it.
Greg Lambert 18:27
And that’s been something that we’ve talked about for a dozen-plus years now ever since the great recession. And the one thing that we’ve heard over and over and over again, is that the law firms are working toward being innovative, but they’re waiting for the client to give them direction on it.
Marlene Gebauer 18:47
Yeah. And that clients don’t want it like they’re much more comfortable getting 10% Off the top than actually looking at more innovative ways of building.
Greg Lambert 18:55
So if I’m, if I’m the client, how do I get that partner to make that journey down the hallway and get to understand better what the innovators are doing?
Lucy Bassli 19:06
Yeah. So here’s the thing is it was really easy for several years to bash the firms. And everybody did it. And it was just easy and no, but it was useless. And it wasn’t based on really much insight because the firms are killing themselves trying.
Greg Lambert 19:21
It was fun!
Lucy Bassli 19:22
But it was fun. It makes for great social media nonsense, which is another whole thing that’s going on right now. But okay. What I think you have at the micro-level, the partner to a law firm to the engagement, lead in-house, a mismatch. And if there isn’t a match, it just won’t work. I don’t care how innovative a firm is, because innovating across 300, 500, or 1000. Lawyers. That’s just silly. You can’t be an innovative firm. You’re still a bunch of individuals and a bunch of teeny tiny little businesses that are working under an umbrella. In house. Remember, lawyers all come from law firms all most in House lawyers have transitioned from a law firm. So They come in buying what they knew how to sell. There’s no magic transformation that happens. People forget that once you come in-house, you are not by definition, innovative now, you are just buying what you used to sell. Now often the pressures of the workload, the volume, and the beast of the business forces creativity and innovation, and efficiencies, which is completely contrary to that beautiful billable hour model. Those are the gems, right? They get it, they start having to find a way to do different things. That individual needs to find the right individual inside the law firm, and then pursue it. And then that individual inside the law firm can leverage those innovation teams can leverage all those amazing resources and investments that are being made. Sadly, fruitlessly sometimes, because they’re trying to push to a whole farm, you know, ideas and new ways of thinking when really you need to find the one or two who get it and who have a match at their client. Because I will say, I’ve come around to now go and hey, it takes two to tango. Let’s stop bashing the firms generically. And let’s talk to those firms who say, hey, my clients don’t want it. Marlene, you’re 100% Spot on. And I hear it all the time. I’m fine with a discount. And I’m consulting with these corporate law departments go no, no, no, no, don’t say that out loud. What’s wrong with you? Right, but then, but they don’t, they can’t comprehend that instead of a discount. How about you ask for project management without a billed line item? How about you ask for monthly reporting data insights? Right? We’ve all learned that well, now we get some, you know, CLEs? Yes, that was the 1980s version value-added? Fine. But there’s the education is being missed somehow that people aren’t talking, you know, the right people aren’t talking to the right people yet. And that that’s that next layer that has to happen until the billable until the business model change, it’s a law firm until it operates like a business, it still has to be the one to one. The partner to their main client contact. And if those two aren’t aligned to just Magic’s not going to happen.
Marlene Gebauer 21:59
Can I go back to your comment about the RFPs? Are there any points you can offer that would make the response more useful?
Lucy Bassli 22:11
Yes. I mean, you’re hitting on such a perfect point, because I’m in the middle right now of a client engagement, where I saw a draft RFP right before it was gonna go out to a to help select a panel. I couldn’t make sense of it. And I was like, I don’t know how to, I don’t know how to say this with any more real just not being flippant, I don’t know what you hope to get, besides some sort of a Yellow Pages response, like, I don’t know what you’re gonna get from this. It was so long, and it was so high level, want to know everything about everything you do all over the globe? And how you’re going to do it and who’s going to do it and why I should be happy about you doing it. But that took about over a dozen pages to ask. And it’s going to go out to over two dozen firms. I said Please, stop the madness. Because, again, you kind of read the words and you’re like, Okay, well, sure, you can put that out there. But we know what you’re going to get back. It’ll be pretty, it’ll be glossy, I have a bunch of headshots, a frankly, sorry, a lot to do to still look the same, and maybe a few others have thrown in for the mix. It’s annoying, it’s a little offensive on both sides. So my best recommendation is to be more precise and focused, frankly, right now, still, by practice area, still how law firms are structured. So let’s look at experts inside of law firms. Let’s look at capabilities within particular practice areas, especially in the specialized in the specialties, let’s say, with your employment Counsel of your VIP counsel, let’s those are specialties. On the other side of the spectrum for like, Hey, I just need help. An extension of my law department, you know, we’re kind of small, we’re pretty agile, we just need some smart, external lawyers, commercial lawyers, general business, see types of lawyers, then reframe your RFP with that. Be open about what it is you seek and be a little bit more prescriptive with what you want to get back. And then that becomes a fine balance too, because I have seen also the 45, page RFPs with the table that they want, you know, law firms to fit into, and then it becomes also, you know, another end, but I would just offer, let’s move away from the big broad attempts. And let’s focus on your highest needs as precisely as you can around the practice groups because you know, still that’s how law firms are structured. So why not pretend that they’re going to put a multidisciplinary team across four completely different practice groups in seven different geographies as a team it’s just too hard. They just not built that way. So you can ask for it. But it’s kinda, yeah, I don’t know. Yeah, can ask me for my best high jump number? I can’t jump off the ground for you.
Marlene Gebauer 25:12
You better not ask me for my best high jump number either.
Lucy Bassli 25:14
Right? No, you’re got to know your service provider. So I would say, you know, just being more precise, more specific, would be great, and scoped, right, because again, the specificity on I want 30 firms to answer everything about everything. And then here’s the detail within which I want you to answer it. That’s not what I mean. I mean, scope like, hone in on your top pain points.
Marlene Gebauer 25:37
That’s good advice. You say, looking into client data is a good place to start in terms of innovation. Do you find that there is a hesitancy to delve into this data for fear it will jeopardize the relationship?
Lucy Bassli 25:52
Well, that’s a spicy leading the witness question.
Marlene Gebauer 25:55
Lucy Bassli 25:58
Of course, look, data at the end of the day, doesn’t lie, it can be spun. Let’s be clear, you can spin data, and really bright people do it really well. But right now, there is such a complete, even, unawareness. By, again, I’m talking about your regular practicing lawyer, the one who’s got their 1800 or 2000 hour target to fill their good their experience, there may be in your fifth plus years of associate all the way through to your you know, 10, plus your partner kind of bucket, that core group of people are probably largely completely unaware of even what data they have available to them, they’re probably even unaware that the work that they do is susceptible to being analyzed with data, right? They’re still perceived as the Quality Advisor, you know, the professional whose work can’t be quantified. And so there’s, there’s a long journey to even educate on the fact that you actually have data available at your fingertips if you want it. Well, not at your fingertips. firms aren’t great at collating their data, but they do have it it’s just unstructured. But I think that those, again, those practicing lawyers really need to be educated. So before they’re even capable of fearing what it might disclose, which is where your question was, I’m not sure they’re even aware that what they do is a type of data or can be a type of data. Now, once they figure that out, depending on you know, the practice and how they’ve been working. Sure. I mean, who wants to find that they’ve been, you know, staffing projects repeatedly for the same client on similar engagements with the same four people. And yet there have been no efficiencies or learnings gained or insights even shared with the client. That’s not great. But guess what? That is exactly what happens year over year over here. So yeah, some of that data is going to be a little telling the first day, they have to just be educated that there’s even data available, and what kind of operational data, substantive insights, lots of different types of data that you can start with?
Greg Lambert 28:11
Oh, let me flip that around. What about on the In-House side? What are you seeing or advising for in-house legal departments to either start collecting internally of their own data or start asking specifically, from their outside counsel for data to give them better insights on how well their service or how well they run the department?
Lucy Bassli 28:36
Sure, so you know, too. So I’m a commercial transactions lawyer. But I’m going to use this as kind of an easy example because every single company has contracts. That’s why I like this one that everybody can, can relate to. But you can also apply to any other areas where you have recurring ongoing, kind of volume-based work, whether it’s patent applications, these applications and employment group, complaints, claims, whatever, but everybody has contracts. And everybody spends money on outside counsel. So these are my favorite two examples of data. And with corporate law departments, this is usually where we start when I’m asked for any new data strategy, where do I start? Where should I even be collecting? Well, let’s collect some information about the money you spend. That’s the basics. And that is usually a very easy black and white place to start. Because money is leaving the company and money is going to law firms. That’s the only base assumption you can make with any corporate law department, nothing more than that. They’re spending and they’re spending on firms, how much what kind, what type? How often how’s it staffed? All that then is It’s gravy to learn. So the basic place on the spend side, I would say, is getting your firms to respond back with monthly reporting. I don’t just want to wait for an invoice to come. A, God knows when it comes. Be I’m not going to look through 700 line items of point 2, point 3, point 1, point 4. oh, and seven cents for copies and 10 cents for this. It’s, it’s so offensive to get that, it is such a waste of time to have to look at it. Stop. So I just can’t say it enough.
Greg Lambert 30:13
I’m not sure I’m getting the feelings, your feelings for this!
Lucy Bassli 30:17
It’s the beauty of being an independent, a few more friends but a job. So that is just not useful, but that’ll continue fine, who cares that that is going to keep going. But proactively corporate law departments need to say if you want my business on a monthly basis, I need you to provide me a report in a different format than your invoice. And in the report, here’s what I want. And start small, everybody gets excited about data, because then they want it all once you get a taste, I would say it’s like crack to innovation crack a little bit of data, like Oh, my God, I want more and more and more, we’re like, well, you’re gonna overdose, because you’re not going to know what to do with it, you’re just gonna annoy your partners, you know what the firm’s get what it will be useful for you. So start with three or four data points and ask for that reporting to come from the law firms. They can do that. And they know they’re just not asked often enough to actually very rarely asked. So that’s, that’s one type of data. Then diving in deeper on a particular practice area, commercial contracts, that overflow work again, contracting with any law department is like a little tidal wave that just keeps coming back at you. It just doesn’t stop the businesses yelling, it’s never fast enough. Legal is always the problem. It’s just common themes. So we got to send stuff to law firms, you could send it to them Friday at 5pm. And you know, Monday at 8 am. It’ll be done and law firms make a nice annuity type of business over ongoing commercial contracting work. A ton of data in that all I want every law firm to tell me every month how many contracts did I send you? What kind did I send you? And how long did it take you to turn around the first draft, the first review, that first piece of work to me? That’s it. Right now, very few can answer that question. Very few law departments can answer, how many? What type? And how long? And those are the only three questions you need to get started to get from zero information to useful information, you can then report back even to your C suite. You’re asking for more resources when you’re justifying those legal bills. How do you ask for all of it without any data? Right? You know, decades of it depends. We’ve trained people really well to accept it depends what’s not working anymore.
Greg Lambert 32:34
Yeah. How much is it gonna cost? Well, it depends. It depends. Yeah, I like that. But before we get into our last question, I want to pull in one that’s not on the list here. And that is as I was prepping for this, I noticed that your LinkedIn account is almost like a quasi blog for you. It seems like it’s a good place for you to kinda, and you can kind of tell what, what is on your mind on that day. And I think today’s was, was installing CLM is not an easy task. Do you use LinkedIn or other social media almost as kind of a sounding board? Or are you know, this, this is my thought for today? And I want to get it out there and see what people have to say.
Lucy Bassli 33:23
So you know, that’s, it’s such a good question. So I have, I have a bit of schizophrenia when it comes to LinkedIn. Dual personalities, because on the one hand, I’m a small business owner, and LinkedIn is my only real face to the world. Of course, I have a website and I do have two websites. But really, it’s my it’s kind of my face to the world and I am not nearly as mindful and intentional as I should be when it comes to thinking about it as kind of that business marketing vehicle. So that’s one just self-reflection, you know, as my business grows, and a lot of people I find themselves here, especially these last couple of years. On the other hand, LinkedIn is the only social media world I really live in. I have a Twitter thing but again, as I was call it at home, like this whole Insta book face thing is not for me, I’m overwhelmed by it. But LinkedIn has become the home I embraced. Some of it is it’s
Greg Lambert 34:19
It is also owned by a company you used to work for.
Lucy Bassli 34:22
I know. I will confess it. We do have the video on, so you know, you guys can see nobody else can, I’m the only one who owns a Microsoft Duo phone and I can’t help it. I don’t get paid by them anymore, but I love their product. But yeah, LinkedIn, you know, embraced it when it became part of Microsoft. I always ate our dog food and I kind of stuck with it. I do now you know, yeah, it is a bit of like my I’m not a blogger. I don’t have a blog on my own website, but it is my bit of my stream of consciousness top of mind. I do really commit to it always being professional topics. Once in a while. I’ll sneak in a picture of my dog but I’ll always find some legal tech angle to bring her in. That’s the only caveat I have otherwise, it really has to be. It has to be on point. And I will say one thing, and I will want you to catch me on it. If you ever find me not doing it as it has to be something useful in there, there, there has to be a nugget that anybody who reads it isn’t seeing me just what I see a lot of others doing, which is, hey, apple pie is delicious. Yes. And 700 people like it. Well, that’s true. That’s good. You know, and in our community, it’s a lawyer really needs to adapt to change. Yes, that’s, we all agree violently. But I’m finding a lot of that noise. So I hope substantive content doesn’t get lost. And I’m doing my very best to make sure whether it’s my posts on my personal page or on our business page, it’s it has to be substantive. So I hope, I hope I’m meeting that bar. But it’s, it’s tough, it’s tough to know how to play in that space. It’s very new.
Greg Lambert 35:57
And just out of curiosity, are you getting feedback? Or are you putting it out there? And it just kind of, is it?
Lucy Bassli 36:04
You know, gosh, there’s again, there’s so much out there on like, how to use LinkedIn and the algorithm and all that, I found that a little overwhelming and anxiety-driven to me so I kind of stopped thinking about that. I’ve noticed the feedback I get, frankly, from my either prospective clients, or kind of former peer group, I’m really interested in what the in-house legal, legal departments are thinking. And those people don’t tend to chime in. But they reach out to me. And that’s what’s interesting. Two days ago, I had the best one that got a note on LinkedIn. I don’t comment often. But I want you to know how valuable your content is. I shared it with my team. And then I said, See, this goes to show it’s not just the numbers because some people don’t engage, but they’re absorbing it. And that’s been really rewarding. So at the same time, I’m watching the numbers and you know, we want things to grow and we want the trend to look good, but I don’t expect to go viral. I will not be doing it. Tik Tok, for example, I love Tik Tok, and my teenager loves it. And that’s where they should be living. That’s great. I don’t think I don’t think
Greg Lambert 37:10
It’s how I get myself to sleep every night and watch as much a few of those and doze off.
Lucy Bassli 37:14
It’s got a home, it’s got a home. I don’t think that’s my professional home. But it is it’s entertaining. And I think it’s a question of figuring out who do you want to be on LinkedIn? What is your purpose? What is your brand? I have a love-hate feeling about it. But you know, who are you?
Marlene Gebauer 37:29
Okay, well, as Greg had hinted, it is now time for the crystal ball question. So we ask you, as we ask other folks on the podcast to pull out your crystal ball and look into the future for us. And I think you’re well suited for this. So you know, as we finally get to the other side of this pandemic, the industry finds its new bearings. What are some of the permanent changes that you see in the next five years or more?
Lucy Bassli 37:58
I mean, obviously, the whole nature of remote work is a gimme, that’s easy. It’s never going to go back to how it was before. So they were all going to be living in a different hybrid world. Hybrids gonna look different industry, company culture, person, you know, personalities, evolving, and age, generation change, and all of that’s going to come together. And for sure, things will never look the way they were before. And I think a lot of us are not so quietly anymore, grateful. A lot of people are really just coming out and saying, Yeah, that’s good. Let’s keep the good stuff. And go back to the stuff that was good before. And so I’m looking forward to seeing how things evolve and realizing there’s not gonna be a magic date at which a switch will be flipped. So I love that that is definitely forcing a lot of introspective thinking amongst the legal community. Law firms by far are hit the hardest in terms of the emotional professional changes that people are feeling. And I see it with my peers, you know, law firm partners, my peer group going, oh my god, they’re confessing and signed secretly. Still, this has been amazing. I really don’t want to go back to the office, right? They’re afraid and these are partner-level people like you, you can decide to change your firm. You are the deciders as a community so that will change. I am hoping to see some more vocal push from the junior partner world, especially from the women and other diverse partners. But I’m still gonna say especially for the women who just nothing’s changing. Let’s all just say it how it is. Nothing is changing decade after decade. I don’t want to hear another coaching session about using my big girl voice. I don’t want to be told that maybe I should learn to smoke a cigar and hang out with the dudes. Done. Innovation is going to be the key for women. You heard it Hear, I’ve said it before the intersection between women, legal, and innovation is going to be the only way, we’re going to finally get our seat. Because we’re just going to learn to do things better, more efficiently. The guy should listen to I hope every lawyer is going to be innovative. But you know what? We need to get ahead. Just innovate, and you will. So that’s my, my crystal ball for actually how diversity and inclusion will finally be impacted. I think we’ll be through the innovations and legal practice. And I hope, hope I’m right on that. I switch a little bit to in-house. And I’m gonna go to my favorite topic of topic on the crystal ball of CLM. Right, that amount of money that’s flown in there in the last 18 months is unreal unheard of. VC funding causes, let’s call them interesting behaviors in the market. So it’s fun to talk about the rise in legal tech investments. And I get asked this all the time, and what do I think and there’s a frenzy right now, that is unhealthy. And it is driving some pretty poor behaviors, both on the tech provider side, and these poor purchasers, the in-house corporate law departments, the FOMO, the fear of missing out, is causing fast purchasing decisions, lots of disappointments, and money just being thrown down the drain. On the tech side, of course, the race to revenue, that is what VC funding with all due respect is about it is a race to revenue. So my crystal ball says five years from now, the landscape could look completely different. We’re gonna not be in a place where we have, I’m going to say 35, plus core CLM system providers, another 35 Plus CLM, adjacent providers, all of which are confused of what they actually do, who they actually are, what they should be serving. They’re selling though everything to everyone. That’s going to change. There will be a kind of a who’s left standing, there will be acquisitions, there will be mergers, there will be big conglomerates that are going to be buying out chunks, which is which has already started. The Big Four are going to play a very different role in the CLM advisory space they’re trying to already and we’re going to develop some real I hope experts. There are a few. I’m going to say of us I’m going to just give myself that there are a few of us out there who can really intersect between legal and operations. True legal operations, not the operation of a law department with the right infrastructural systems and tools or a law firm with infrastructural systems and tools. I mean, the operationalization of legal work and commercial contract is one of those few places where we’re talking about that, that intersection. So five years from now, I think it’s going to look completely different and I hope, I hope there will be some clarity industry leaders and fit-for-purpose leaders. That’s my crystal ball and hope
Greg Lambert 43:00
Well, it sounded less like a crystal ball and more almost like a time portal that you’ve just stepped back into and are now telling us what has happened. So I feel very confident in your predictions there.
Lucy Bassli 43:14
I hope so. I hope so. It’s weird and we’re in an interesting spot right now. So I’m just glad everybody else is realizing contracting so sexy. Everybody wants to dance now.
Marlene Gebauer 43:25
Everybody wants to get in on it. Yep, it’s a good thing.
Greg Lambert 43:27
And once again the Kenny Chesney song comes back. Yeah. Well with that, Lucy Bassli, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us and, and giving us your insights. This has been just fantastic.
Marlene Gebauer 43:44
We very, very much appreciate it.
Lucy Bassli 43:45
My pleasure. My pleasure. All my favorite topics. I really appreciate the time. You guys, thank you.
Greg Lambert 43:54
Well, I don’t think you ever have to ask Lucy exactly where she stands on an issue can do that. That was That was great. I enjoyed that learned so much. And you know, in some of it is things again, we’ve talked about, but hearing other people that are actually out there advising in-house counsel, outside counsel on what to do, it just makes sense. You know, she makes it makes sense. So that was really insightful.
Marlene Gebauer 44:23
Yeah, I really liked our discussion about RFPs. I found that extraordinarily helpful. I mean, just you know, from my own perspective, in terms of answering things like that. I love her insights about the billable hour and again, how it’s the responsibility of both sides to make this work. Rather than just saying, you know, it’s just kind of easier to sort of just let it slide. That okay, well, you know, really if we put some effort into this, we will be in a better place in the future and love the insights about, you know, where we are with investment with the CLM, you know, and sort of the business that’s happening, you know, as a result, and I agree with her, I mean, I think everything’s gonna consolidate a bit. But right now, we’re still a little bit wild west. So departments and firms have to be careful.
Greg Lambert 45:11
I thought the thing that may have raised the hairs on the back of everyone’s neck as she was saying that the big four are going to play a major role in the CLMs. And that totally makes sense. So
Marlene Gebauer 45:27
yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s like and I mean, like she said, they’re already they’ve been working on that so I mean, that is not that knew that that’s happened
Greg Lambert 45:39
And of course, you know, my absolute favorite part was she thinks my contract sexy. Ah, alright, with that, roll us out Marlene!
Greg Lambert 45:54
Apologize to Kenny Chesney.
Greg Lambert 45:57
Thanks again to Lucy Bassli from InnoLaw group for taking the time to talk with us today. This has been fun and I apologize for my singing.
Marlene Gebauer 46:05
And thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter,
Greg Lambert 46:17
And I’m going to be launching my new SoundCloud account with all my country songs. But until then, you can catch me at @glambert on Twitter.
Marlene Gebauer 46:24
Yeah, tune in to that. Or you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7270. And if you get tired of Greg’s music, you can listen to the music here at The Geek in Review. And that’s from Jerry David DeCicca. Thank you, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 46:41
Thanks, Jerry. Alright, Marlene, I will see you in the recording booth.
Marlene Gebauer 46:46