AALL Crystal Ball Answer
While in Denver at the AALL Conference, Katie not only answered our Crystal Ball question, she also persuaded Abby Dos Santos, Reference Librarian at Caplin & Drysdale, to sit down with her and have a conversation about the pipeline of technology teaching from law school to law firms. We cover both of those answers and then Katie turns the mic on Greg to ask what law students need to understand about court dockets before landing in law firms.
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Greg Lambert 0:00
Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Greg Lambert.
Katie Brown 0:24
And I’m Katie Brown. And I’m stepping in for Marlene this week as she travels to ILTAcon at the National Harbor.
Greg Lambert 0:31
So Katie, thank you very much for taking the time to co host with me.
Katie Brown 0:35
Greg Lambert 0:36
I know you’ve got a lot going on. I know, school has just started up. But really, I wanted to get you on here because when we were at Denver at the AALL conference, you actually did a crystal ball question for us. But then you, like, took ownership of the microphone, and got Abby Dos Santos to answer a crystal ball question as well. And, you know, you just have this way of getting people to do things.
Katie Brown 1:10
You know, I’d love to say that it’s, you know, my magnetic personality or the theatre background in me, but you know, actually, it’s, I think that it was just a great experience to be able to chit chat and stop and sit down with people and talk to them about what was going on. But yeah, it was it was a lot of fun.
Greg Lambert 1:30
So, before we get too far along, I want to ask you a couple of questions. One is, kind of introduce yourself to everybody in case they don’t know you. And then tell us about your experience AALL this year.
Katie Brown 1:44
Yeah. So I’m Katie Brown. And I’m actually the Associate Dean for information resources at the Charleston School of Law. I had the opportunity to go to Denver this summer. And actually, I was a part of the pre conference workshop that was on teaching people how to teach technology. So that was really cool, because that’s 100% of my wheelhouse. But the reality was so much of AALL that I really enjoyed was actually just stopping and talking to people, as I kind of mentioned, you know, being able to I’m an extrovert, if you can’t tell. So being able to have those face to face conversations were really key after so many of you know, the video conferencing?
Greg Lambert 2:23
Yes, extroverts really stick out at Library conferences.
Katie Brown 2:27
Little bit. Give me a mic, I’ll take it every day.
Greg Lambert 2:32
So I think you really kind of hit the theme that we’re going here. And so the way that we’re going to work out this episode is I’m going to play first your answer to the crystal ball question. And then we’re going to talk about that a little bit. And then we’ll get your and Abby Dos Santos answer to the crystal ball question. But really, the theme, and I think this may actually end up being the title is teaching people how to teach technology, and especially in law schools. And so I think as a listener, you can kind of catch this idea that we’re going to be hitting on a lot, which is, where’s the disconnect between the law schools, teaching the students to be prepared for the practice of law? And the law firms or the legal market itself, on what can we be doing to funnel information back to the law schools on, what’s a better way? Or what’s the outcomes that we want to see before these students and new lawyers show up at our door? So we’ll get started with the with your crystal ball question. And again, you always have, you’ve always had a passion of wanting to teach practical technology to law schools. So let’s jump in and listen, and then we’ll come back and talk some more on this.
Katie Brown 3:54
Katie Brown 3:57
So my focus is a little bit more of an academic answer, but I really think it applies across the whole legal industry. Because of COVID, I think we started to see a push with legal technology, we started to use it being utilized more and more through practice, and COVID happens, and it’s accelerated, right. One of the big things for all law schools is we have this ABA standard. We are required to educate people so that they can go out into the practice and successfully do that. And so beyond just, you know, rule 1.1 with legal technology and having that competency, for us as law schools, I think we have an ethical obligation to be teaching legal technology. So I think what you’re gonna start to see it I mean, we’re seeing it here in this vendor space, right. So much legal tech. So many law schools are looking to invest and learn more about it. And so I think you’re going to start to see where all law schools are going to have at least one legal technology class. And then trying to implement it even more on those doctrinal classes, even if you’ve got some faculty are not as interested.
Greg Lambert 5:06
Yeah. What do you think would be, say the that one class, what’s the lowest hanging fruit for us, the school that wants to begin teaching technology that would make sense for them to start off with?
Katie Brown 5:19
So I think if you’re going all the way back to the basics, there is still that misconception about the digital native. More and more undergrads are Google based schools. So we have students that are coming into law school that literally have never used Word before. So it is on us to teach them the basics of Word. And I know that there’s some people out there that say, well, that’s not the librarians role, right?
Greg Lambert 5:44
If not us, who?
Katie Brown 5:46
Yeah, well, 100% agree with that. But I think the other thing too, is, that’s where you get them in the legal writing classes, whether it’s called like legal practice, or legal research and writing, you bring it in there, because they have assignments where they have to draft these briefs, they have to draft these memos. So make it so it also has this technology aspect to it. So they have to use Styles, have them create something that has a template that they need to use for more than one. So it’s really simple things you can do to add to a class. And even if it’s not the librarian coming in to do it, maybe it’s a writing professor, that’s again, another way to get buy in from your faculty, total low hanging fruit. Really, really easy to do.
Greg Lambert 6:28
Great. Well, Katie Brown, thank you very much.
Katie Brown 6:31
Thank you for inviting me.
Greg Lambert 6:38
Alright, well, Katie, thanks, again, for letting me stick a microphone in your face there and in the vendor Hall in Denver. And so let’s, let’s jump back. And, you know, do you want to expand a little bit on your answer now that you thought about it?
Katie Brown 6:53
Ya know, when I was sort of listening to it again, I was thinking, obviously, at the very end, I mentioned the faculty, right. And so I want to kind of expand that world a little bit, because I think that it isn’t just, you know, having a faculty culture that is willing to teach tech, I really think it’s more the institution, the university’s culture, because it costs money, right? Like technology is expensive, and the most effective way to teach technology is to get people in there and playing with it. So you have to have a culture at your school that is really willing to invest financially and with bodies, right hiring faculty that are aware of technology, having librarians step out of the library and teach it in the classroom, you have to be able to have that financial support from the entire institution, to really, you know, move it into the space. So even though if you’ve got a few individuals who are really excited about it, you really, you know, to be able to move that needle forward, you’ve got to be able to have a little bit more of an investment. And so I think that’s a big challenge, right? For some folks. One of the things that I think is really interesting is Jessica de Perio Wittman and I we write in this area, and over COVID, we were gathering a lot of fun sort of statistics for a piece that we’re working on. And one of the things that we discovered was that we went through, and we looked at all of the law school websites, and we mined what sort of legal tech space classes were being taught. So this would have been over the course of a year that we did this. And when we went in those websites, we found, you know, some some decent statistics, like when we think about the positives, there was about 97.9% of law schools that were offering courses within sort of this tech space, which equal to about 670 courses. So like, in your brain right now, right? You’re thinking that’s a lot, you know, I don’t know, you might not be great, but you know, I’m thinking about it, right? Like the numbers, that seems like it’d be a pretty big number, but then you start to break it down, and you actually look at it, and you realize that with our you know, 190, some odd 99 ABA accredited schools, if you average it out, that’s actually only 3.38 classes being taught in the tech space. And I mean, we were really broad, right with when we were sort of searching for this. And so I think that that’s one big issue that kind of I’m talking about in my crystal ball issue is that we’ve got to be able to be teaching this in the classroom, because if we’re not teaching in the classroom, by the time they get to you all in the firm, there is a real disconnect there. Right. So I think that that’s something we got to think about. Because yeah, there are some schools that maybe have 10 or 12 tech related courses in a year. But there are some other schools that don’t have any, right.
Greg Lambert 9:44
Yeah, that makes sense. Now, before we jump on, I want to ask you a couple of things want first, Jessica, who’s Jessica, what have you been working
Katie Brown 9:54
on? So Jessica Perry Whitman. She is actually the associate I’m sorry, the director. At the University of Connecticut law school, and we’re really excited we’ve got this article that we have been working on for seems like all of COVID. That’s all about tech teaching technology, and whether or not law schools actually have an ethical obligation to be teaching. And so, you know, our stance as the co authors of this is that they really do they have an obligation, we have to, you know, it goes beyond just that, like 1.1, common eight adopted law, from the model rules, it really is about the fact that we would the ABA guidelines have a requirement to graduate people that are practice ready, right, we have to our job is to have a rigorous curriculum that allows them to be able to practice in law, and there’s so much legal tech in the practice of law, we saw it as a result of COVID. But even before then, it was starting to become more and more vendors and more and more resources and statistics, and, you know, platforms and all that. And so if we’re not teaching them about it, they won’t learn it by the time they get to you. So I personally believe that our accreditation, in theory could potentially be up. If you have a school, that’s not teaching technology. I mean, I think the ABA should say it should kind of step in and say, Hey, you’re not actually teaching people to be ready to practice law. But I do also have kind of an extreme, Jessica and I have kind of an extreme stance on this. But you know, I think it’s, I think it’s necessary.
Greg Lambert 11:31
Now, the other question I had is, you started off by saying something that I think we all feel, and that is, technology is expensive. Now I’m I’m going to be I’m going to I’m going to show one, I’m going to probably date myself, because you know, I graduated law school in 1997. And one of the things that I remember was, for example, like Westlaw and Lexus, that what the law schools paid for those subscriptions, was, you know, a pittance compared to what the rest of the market was, was paying for those. And the idea was the old you know, get them while they’re in law school, get them addicted to these, these resources, and we’ll make our money up as they enter into the market. Now, would technology and one I’m not even sure if if Westlaw and Lexus do that anymore, if there’s a big reduction on what schools pay? But would it make sense for you to, especially in the age of so much cloud computing, to where you may not necessarily need to have a stack of servers in a closet somewhere in the law schools like we used to? Are these technology companies seeing law schools as a loss leader, to get people trained up so that they use products out in the industry? You know, I
Katie Brown 12:55
think I think that that same model is still there. Right? The big challenge with it is that there is so many other vendors in play when you get into practice. I think that you know, yes, you got the West Alexis model, some schools or Bloomberg schools as well. So in their one Oh, year, they’re getting exposure to all three of those at the same time. But now, you know, I mean, there are practice specific vendors, there are I mean, there’s, the world is so substantial, for what is out there, that it’s up to the school to I guess, maybe determine what they feel like the most bang for the buck is now there. Obviously, with some of these vendors like Wes, Alexa some and Bloomberg, they’re going to work with the school because they want to get them in early. So they will drop prices, they will, you know, they’ll work with you as much as they can. There are some, you know, other vendors that aren’t in a in a situation to be able to do that just because of bottom line. Right. So that’s not really an option for them if they don’t kind of get the but I think the way that you can approach and again, I’m kind of going to wear my librarian hat, I think the way you can approach this is thinking about it from a budget point of view. Right? So one of the things under the ABA guidelines and the standards is that we’ve got to have a collection. Right? So it can be a print collection, it can be an electronic collection that supports the mission of your school. So whatever your school is teaching, so if you’re an IP focused school ranking, if that’s part of your initiative, I think you should invest in additional technology vendors, if that’s the focus, right. So I don’t think it’s necessarily that you need to get everything but I think that you should splurge if you can or negotiate. Yeah,
Greg Lambert 14:46
well then in the library, we call it we call it a special collection. And so I would I would say yeah, if you’re if you have a focus, or if you are, you know if if 50% of your graduates are going into a certain field or are doing, you know, there’s some schools where I imagine there’s a lot of their graduates ago, one of their first jobs is eDiscovery, just because that’s where a lot of you know. So having a, you know, a special collection in ediscovery technology would make sense.
Katie Brown 15:19
And that we need to broaden the scope of what that special collection is right? That special collection isn’t just a book on it, or an e book on it, like this special collection is the I’m actually going to invest in the product itself. And I’m going to teach somebody how to use that. And be it if that’s, you know, through lunch and learns, or teaching programs like, I know, Oklahoma University does a lot of additional sort of technology training outside of what they get in the classroom. It could be that or it could be in the classroom, if you have a cybersecurity class, why not invest in some of those tools? Or work with the people? Who are the vendors in that market? To say, do you mind? Can we use this, even if it’s, can I get this for a week for them to play in and do a homework assignment, then they’re going to get exposure to it? Right? Because the reality is, is we also have a lot of our institutions, requirements for students to take skills classes or drafting classes. So how great would it be if some of those skills are these technology skills? Right. I just think that’s a, you know, that would be a really great way to kind of address this, this lack of technology training that’s happening on a lot of schools. Yeah, makes
Greg Lambert 16:31
sense. All right. So I’m going to let you lead into the second one. So if you don’t mind, give us a little background on how you convinced Abbe de Santos, and to talking to you because she was really reluctant to talk to me when I when I cornered her for the crystal ball question. If I’m remembering things, right.
Katie Brown 16:54
Yeah. So first, I’ll say that I think it’s just because I, Abby and I were on the we worked on the summit committee together. So we already had this sort of freestanding relationship and dialogue and sort of she’s a big idea person, right? Which is probably why you wanted her to answer the crystal ball question. And so as you know, she and I started this conversation just about technology. And then you handed us two mics. And you know, me, I just ran with it. Yeah, pretty much. That’s what happened. And so you’ll actually hear at the start, where we’re kind of like catching people up a little bit about the start of the conversation that we had had off the mic before we go, you know, before we deep too, too, too far into it.
Greg Lambert 17:37
All right. Well, I’m gonna I’m gonna roll into this conversation, and then we’ll come back on the other side and talk some more about it.
Abby Dos Santos 17:45
So I’m Abby dos Santos, and I’m a reference librarian at Caplin and Drysdale
Katie Brown 17:50
and I am Katie Brown, Charleston School of Law. And so again, we had the great opportunity of being part of the summit together, had some collaboration discussions there. Yes. And so when we’re thinking about legal Tech, I think, you know, we started this conversation sort of off the mic. And so I’ll just sort of bring people up to date here. One of the things we were talking about was sort of that boom, that boom, that happened with technology, but that there’s so much out there, yes. So much tech out there. So now it’s the how do we fine tune in? Right? Yeah. And the thing that’s great with the fine tuning is the conversation. So what are some of the things that we feel like we need to be talking about, so that we can come to a place where the tech is helping you all in the firm land, but from my end, I can teach it to them? And my tech classes are sort of sneaking them in to other classes? And what are your kind of thoughts about that?
Abby Dos Santos 18:41
Well, I definitely think I mean, it’s the overall tech right. So it’s not just the fancy widgets, or analytics or things like that. But like, you know, why is it important? Why are we using it? Why is it making it more efficient?
Katie Brown 18:54
Yeah, I think for me, when I think about it with what I’m bringing into the law school classroom, there’s so much out there, right? And I will say vendors are really generous, oftentimes with, they might do a demo, or they might give you access to it. But the reality is, I could show them all the bells and whistles, but it’s not if it’s not what you guys are really using in the firm. Right? What’s the value? Well, I think that that’s something where both, you know, it’s so important for us in different library types to be having this discussion, because I do only want to show them what’s practical, what is actually going to be being used in practice, and you know, that will change from firm to firm. But for you kind of what do you see with this collaboration? How does it help you to have the discussion with us who are teaching sort of legal tack?
Abby Dos Santos 19:43
Well, what happens is, is that we have some associates come in and they don’t realize what’s out there. They don’t realize all the different things that they have. They’re just seeing maybe like one idea, like one Westlaw or one Lexus, and they don’t realize that there’s a bunch of other things that we use in practice. I mean, There’s stuff for litigation. There’s stuff for dockets. There’s stuff for, like main practices. So it’s more just like talking about, I think it’s actually more talking about legal tech as a whole as a broader whole. And being like, there’s a world of information out there. And you’re going to be introduced that when you go into practice,
Katie Brown 20:22
what have you seen to be the biggest gap? And again, I know this is just your own personal law firm, every law firm is going to be a little bit different. But where, where have you seen that gap? Because, again, obviously, we’re looking at it, we want to fill that gap. We want to make sure that when they get to you, yeah, maybe they don’t know all about it, but they’ve got a sample of it. So are you seeing like one particular area where our students need to know some more about it?
Abby Dos Santos 20:45
Um, I think the gap is actually I think it’s like a it’s a large gap. I mean, it’s just like not knowing, honestly.
Katie Brown 20:54
Oh, so the we don’t know what we don’t know, when it comes to legal tax. Okay. Yeah,
Abby Dos Santos 20:57
exactly. I mean, even you were talking about and this again, was a little bit, I think, from your previous answer, where it’s, you know, it’s some some of the basics, you were talking about styles. I mean, it there’s a lot of things that these students don’t know right now. So it’s kind of giving that broader context. And I think that we can do that. We’re talking together between private law librarians and academic librarians. So like talking about the future, like, what is the future, I think there needs to be more collaboration and more partnerships, so that we can provide better services to either the law students or to our attorneys.
Katie Brown 21:33
Yeah, I’m also wondering to what is their value in having you all come into some of our classes, and be guest lecturers and talk about what it’s really like? Yes. So I’m going to, I’m going to do a follow up question with that, like, So explain to me a little bit of that value, what is that value to bringing you all into our classroom?
Abby Dos Santos 21:54
Well, I think it’s just being able to talk about practice. I mean, so let me step back a little. Yeah, I think a lot of the times when you’re teaching law students, you’re talking about doing clinics, and like during that kind of practice part of it, but they don’t talk about the daily part of it. So, you know, coming into the legal research class, we can say like, you know, when you’re at a law firm, these are the type of things that you’re going to be exposed to, in terms of legal tech, or in terms of research platforms. And that, if that makes sense. Yeah. So it’s not just the, the clinic part, but it’s also the firm part.
Katie Brown 22:33
Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that’s the idea. We, you know, you when you’re in law school, you got to try to, at least my approach is always let’s try to make it tangible. Let’s try to turn it into practice. So, again, I’m really excited for the future. I know you and I had the opportunity to work together this year on some projects, hoping to continue to do that. So we can maybe make that gap or that divide smaller. Right, exactly. And through conversation, hopefully, maybe we can even make it disappear. Yeah. So thank you for talking to me today.
Greg Lambert 23:00
Thank you. Katie, listening to that there was there was one thing that you and Abby mentioned, and you specifically mentioned was that the the digital natives that we think they are actually going to these Google based schools. So do you mind telling me what you what you mean by a Google based school? And how those types of schools affect law students when they move away from undergraduate programs into law school?
Katie Brown 23:34
Yeah, definitely. So I think that it is really interesting, because it’s sort of this two prong problem, right? So like, if we take the first piece of it, which is more this sort of like heady concept, which I think is my problem, right? My problem as an instructor, is this idea that I’m making an assumption that when people come into my classroom, they’ve got this base level knowledge. So you mentioned the digital native right like this, it’s been proven now that that’s pretty much a fallacy. Just because you grew up with a cell phone or you you’re the internet generation, doesn’t mean you actually know about tech. Right? So I think the same thing is true, we make this assumption that every student comes to law school, and they have had exposure to the Microsoft suite. And I mean, you guys might have even done this in your firm, right? I mean, hopefully, by the time they get to the firm, they’ve played with it a little bit in law school. But you know, it depends on the school depends on the program. Guess how much
Greg Lambert 24:24
exposure they’ve had to it? And Microsoft Office is expensive. Right,
Katie Brown 24:29
exactly. And so I think what ends up happening for some undergrads is they figured out we can actually use this Google bank of resources. We can use Google Docs, we can use Google Drive, and that’s what they’re using as the primary word processing system for their school. And so they get around having to purchase word or requiring their students to purchase word right. So I think, you know, we all know what sort of has been happening across the board with education. It’s really expensive. So trying to potentially cut some corners are saying, hey, Google works for us, right? We can make this work. But what that result is, is by the time they come to us in law school, beyond just the whole Microsoft suite, a lot of them have never even used word. So I’m going in, and I’m in the legal research and writing classroom with them. And we actually added a couple years ago, a technology word day, because the writing professors were having to take points off, because they couldn’t do basic formatting things. And again, I think that was on us as instructors to realize we were making assumptions, right, we were making assumptions that they knew how to change fonts, were making assumptions that they knew how to do margins, you know, we’re not even talking about styles yet, right? We’re talking about some of this basic tech stuff, that doesn’t always translate well from Google. And so that I think goes one of the you know, what I’m talking about Google based schools. And the problem that that’s creating is we have to get out of our own way, and assume they don’t know it, right. And so even when I teach to the students, I tell them, hey, some of you this is going to be old hat, like, this is something that you already know how to do. Bear with us, help your neighbor if they get stuck. But here’s the basics. And we start with like, here’s your ribbon, here’s how you add things to your ribbon. Here’s the stuff you’re gonna need to know like, for those of you who have never, you know, you’ve you’ve actually never known how to put the symbol in there for the statutes, right? So like, this is how you make a hotkey very basic things.
Greg Lambert 26:30
I was so proud of myself in law school when I figured out Oh, 21 was the section symbol. Yeah, paragraph 120 and 21. were my friends. So yeah,
Katie Brown 26:41
exactly. So I think that that’s the thing, you know, there’s would that disconnect, there’s a big leap to get students to that point when they are at a Google based school because it’s, I’ve had more than one student that have come to me and said, I’ve never seen this before. All we’ve ever used is Google. And then you’re asking them to, you know, make all these modifications to get points taken off if they are not, actually formatting word correctly. And the reality is, I mean, we know that’s a huge part of the purchase a lot. I mean, that’s what Casey Flaherty and the key audit, and all of that is based off of, if it takes too much time, your clients losing money, your firm’s losing money.
Greg Lambert 27:18
Yeah. And that’s the thing is, right now, I would say between Microsoft Word, Outlook, now, basically, Microsoft Edge, because there’s so many, there’s a number of firms now, that won’t even allow you to have Chrome, Google Chrome, as your web browser. So you know, there’s three Microsoft products that you’re probably going to win when you are working in programs on your computer, you’re going to be in those three, probably 90% of the time. And I you know, it’s just one of the things I hadn’t thought of about the fact that kids, and I say kids, but you know, when they when they, when they’re in high school. My wife teaches at a middle school. They’re a Google based school, and they’re the high school is Google based. I imagine that the universities will be and so yeah, you could have you know, when I was in law school, I’d probably well, I would say, let me let me back that up. Because there are computer labs. We’re still using WordStar and WordPerfect 4.9, your
Katie Brown 28:23
Greg Lambert 28:26
Lotus Notes and Lotus 123. Were? Forget I said that I’m probably I’ll probably just skip that part. But, you know, up through probably 2012 2013 that we were you still using Microsoft products, but then all of a sudden, as the Google platform became less expensive, and and, you know, it’s a great product for what it is. But we just don’t use it in in law firms. And our IT and our security people won’t let us use that. So every time I go into Google Docs, I have to suddenly and basically click a button that says, if you get in trouble, you’re on your own on this. And so yeah, it makes a lot of sense that you would have to really kind of man, you really teach some basics on Microsoft Office. Yeah.
Katie Brown 29:24
And then, and then it’s on us, right? Like, I mean, I think that’s, maybe not everybody feels like that’s the case. Like that’s their role. But the way that I feel working as an instructor at a law school is my job is to meet my students where they are right. And so I, I have an expectation of what I feel like the tech competency should be, be it if they take my legal tech class or not, like when you get out of your legal research and writing class, there are some basic things that you got to be able to do in Word. And so I feel like that’s on me. And so I do tell the students you know, if they’re in the class, and they’re getting it in that moment, but then later on, when they go, you know, they’re going to be submitting something to their professor. And it’s like, I do not remember even though you gave me a PowerPoint that is step by step, I am lost. I’m like, Okay, come, come back to the fold come to the library, we will walk you through it. And I do feel like that’s a piece of my job. And so I think that that’s, you know, maybe the topic for another podcast later. other duties as assigned,
Greg Lambert 30:23
that’s good. But I liked your idea of meeting the students where they are. And I know we’re not in the Paperchase era, any longer, we haven’t been been there for decades. So it’s not, you know, look to your left look to your right. And you know, one of us is not going to be here at the end of law school, practically everybody who starts law school can finish law school now. So you have helping helping them, you know, meet meet them where they are at law school is expensive. So it would make sense, you know, for that,
Katie Brown 30:52
I think the other piece of this too, is that it goes beyond sort of us meeting them more there are we going back to that duty, that duty that I feel like we have under the ABA standards, if they’re going to go and work for you in the law firm, I have a duty to teach them how to do that. Because you already said, this is where we’re spending all of our time. So if I know they’re spending all their time in that platform, my job is to teach them that I have an ethical duty to do that.
Greg Lambert 31:20
All right, I’m going to I’m going to throw one more thing at you. And then I know you have a thing for me that you want you want to throw.
Katie Brown 31:28
Me I got you gave me a mic, I gotta put you on the spot.
Greg Lambert 31:32
So before you embarrass me, let me let me throw throw it back to you. One of the things that the and we talk a lot to recruiters, we talk a lot to people that are in placement. One of the things that I’ve kind of noticed over the years, is that we spend a lot of time money and effort on recruiting students into law schools, and then placing them into summer associate ships or clerkships, you know, with this idea of creating these pipelines into the industry. And one of the things that I’ve noticed that we are terrible at is doing some kind of post mortem or debriefing of the students of the law schools and of the law firms. Once they come back, once they’ve had this experience of coming back, and just really kind of going through the details. What did you learn what what was it that you thought was a strength that you brought to your firm? You know, what was a weakness that you had and do the same thing with the law firms or the or the courts or wherever they’ve been placed? to kind of build this cycle of, you know, feedback loop, if you will, into it. So am I just finding the wrong people to talk to or as an issue as well?
Katie Brown 33:03
No, I definitely see this as an issue. I wish
Greg Lambert 33:07
you’re just the wrong person to talk to you to
Katie Brown 33:10
No, no, I see this as an issue. But I also see solution. So I think one of the big things that you mentioned was a debriefing. I think that you know if this is say through a class, like an externship or an internship program, I think that you know, as you’re asking for the journals about their experience, right, you can reach out not only to the student about their experience and what they learned, and you can glean things from that, right. But you can also reach back out to the employer, whoever had them over the summer and say, Where were the tech skills up? Was it what you were expecting? Ask some specific skills related questions, right. Like, I know that focus is legal tech here. But I think it could be about skills in general, for us to be able to do a check point to see are we actually teaching people what they need to know how to do in their local market? Right? Because I think that that’s a big thing. Right? You know, you and I had a little we, although we didn’t overlap, you and I were both in Oklahoma for a short period of time, right. And that Oklahoma market is very different than the market I’m in right now here in Charleston, South Carolina. And so some of the skills and things that we needed to teach them and research in Oklahoma are very different than what we were doing than what we’re doing here in Charleston, because you want it to be based on that. I think another thing that you can do, and I’ve actually, you know, this is a sort of low hanging fruit thing that anybody could potentially do reach out to your alumni network. Right? And that could be at the firm. So people that have worked at the firm over the years, or maybe have moved on to different positions, what’s the actual skills, what are the resources, what’s the technology that that you use that you love? And that could be a really good way to kind of reflect back to what we were talking about earlier on to create those special collections, right? If you’ve got somebody going From one practice group to another practice group, I’d love to hear what’s that skill set difference with somebody coming in, you know, and having an internship experience there with one practice group and then maybe go into another practice group? I don’t know, is that kind of in the vein of where your brain is?
Greg Lambert 35:15
Yeah. And and while you were talking, I was trying to remember because we’ve had some guests on from Penn Law School. And it seems like it just picked up. We talked with Jennifer Leonard. And that was little little over a year ago, where she was talking about how they have a relationship with our alumni. And they actually now have a program that they do for, I think it’s five years out from when they graduate, they basically invite their graduates back in and go through a program and one I think it’s it’s good schools like that, heavily rely upon their alumni for donations for involvement and engagement in the schools. And this is just, you know, one way of doing that. So I think, I think if anyone’s looking for an example, what they’re doing at Penn Law with the with their five year graduate program, I guess it’s a program where they invite him back might be a good example of ways to engage with that, because I’ll tell you, I love University of Oklahoma, where I graduated law school, but the only time I ever hear from them is when they want money. And so, you know, I would really like to, you know, to give them some feedback. And that’s, that’s a little untrue. I get that as well. So
Katie Brown 36:42
well, in building off of that, which I think is really great is the you know, the idea that your alumni, right? Like, even in your example, jokingly, like your alumni is going to be honest with you, right? There’s no real, they’re always going to tell you the truth. So you’re gonna get some really good answers. If you ask the right questions. That’s true.
Greg Lambert 37:00
That’s true. All right. Hey, I know you had had a question for me. And I think it was on docket. So hit hit me.
Katie Brown 37:07
Yeah. So um, first time I was going to teach my legal tech class, I basically threw out to a bunch of law firm, folks, hey, what’s the number one thing that I need to be teaching? And they almost everyone responded with, if you’re going to teach them one thing, teach them about dockets. So that’s something I always make sure to put into my classes. But it seems like there’s such a value added with the dockets being taught that it’s not being taught. So I would love to hear from you more about why why should we be teaching the dockets? What’s the value to them? And what have you seen in your firm?
Greg Lambert 37:40
Yeah, and I think dockets are really interesting, because basically, any type of lawsuit, whether it’s civil or criminal, there’s a docket there, there is a basically a checklist of things that are going on or a timeline of things that interact with the with the courts. The good thing, and the bad thing about dockets is that they are so unique that every courts docket has its own signature on it some way or another. In fact, when I was in Oklahoma at the Supreme Court, we were trying to create a unified court docket system for the state. And that’s when you run into elected officials who that court docket is their baby, and you do not mess with their baby. And, and this it ranges, a lot of things. There’s certain things that may be on the docket get combined or get worded a different way, depending on what what the docket is. So, but I think a lot of times, let me kind of back up a little bit is so let’s just kind of take it over two big umbrellas here. And that is the federal courts which are under Pacer. And so they do have a unified docket system. And then we’ll we’ll stick just to state court. So we’ll just we’ll do two, two big umbrella. docket systems. So federal and state. Now the state are insane, just insane because every every county or parish has its own docket system. And even if that is connected with a larger system, some of those may not. They may, you know they may feed in information but they don’t feed out information. And so I think especially if you’re a school within a certain state and you know that your graduates tend to practice law within a set number of states that if you could focus in on explaining it How the dockets are set up? What’s the idea behind the dockets? Why are courts using the dockets? What information is in those dockets? What information is not going to be in those dockets. And, and you know, and this is kind of like teaching students how to do legal research, that there’s a core, there’s, there’s kind of a base of knowledge that every student, and it doesn’t matter really what kind of law they’re going to end up practicing, I think some way or another, they get they will touch dockets, somewhere in their in their career. And the better that you can understand just the structure on how dockets are set up. And the reasoning behind that and who who controls the information coming in and out? And in how to how to kind of read a docket sheet, that sort of information is transferable regardless of where you end up going after that. And so I think if you can, you know, like I said, at the base, getting to understand how what the docket structure is and how to read a docket sheet, I think that would help immensely with people coming out of law school, practicing law, but then understand, you know, getting a better understanding of the structure of how the the courts on on the ground work. So the probably a little little word here that you needed, but what else on on dockets.
Katie Brown 41:42
Yeah, no, I love that, though, right. Because that kind of goes to the heart of the sort of value added. I also really liked the fact that you mentioned similar to kind of teaching your research process, right? Like, you don’t actually need to do that deep dive into this is exactly what your docket will always look like, right? It’s this idea that if you can tell them, these are the basic things that are going to be in there. And actually, you’re going what you mentioned, springing it up, right. Like, I know, the first time that I bring up a docket in my legal tech class for some of my students that have never seen them before. They’re floored with all the information that’s available on there. They’re like, wait, I can actually see it a complaint. If it’s a transactional situation, I I potentially can see the contract and what isn’t in question. And, you know, it’s, it’s always hurts my heart that I’m the first one, you know, when I when they come to my class, sometimes it’s three L’s, right three L’s in their last semester. And some of them are like, wow, I’m finally seeing a docket. This is really neat. So I’m glad that I’m teaching it. But yeah, I think it’s one of those where it’s, you know, I feel like it’s, as we talked about kind of low hanging fruit a couple of times, I feel like that might be one of those things that could very easily be brought into a doctrinal class, why can’t you bring the docket up? For the case you’re talking about? Right? and show it to them? Because I think that’s another thing. And again, I’ll get a little a little heady here. But I think one of the other things that bugs me a lot with law school, and why I love teaching legal technology, is they tend to just think about these are words in books, right? These are opinions of books. Whereas every time I have the opportunity to talk to my students, I was reminded like, these were real people, right? You know, this isn’t just an opinion, like there were real life people that this affected. And so the idea of like, here’s the case, let’s talk about the theory behind it. And then let’s bring up the docket from that case, and walk them through that. I mean, how much you could get students who are maybe zoning out in your class really excited about civil procedure again, or whatever it is. Really easily. I think with that, I don’t know,
Greg Lambert 43:49
I think you’re spot on. And if I can kind of bend this a little bit, because one of the things with dockets is that even though it’s gotten, oh, my goodness, it’s gotten so much better than then how it used to be literally when and go back to Oklahoma when we were trying to create that unified court docket systems. There were and it was not just a couple there. There were a number of courts and the late 90s, early 2000s. That their dockets were still literally in docket books that it was hand written in docket books. Courts now have gone, I would say probably I I don’t know if the court still that yeah, I’m sure there might there might be it might still be those same counties in Oklahoma, I’m not sure but with the courts going electronic with, with there being companies out there, even even though they’re their for profit companies like Tyler technology that are trying to create a standard system of getting information in and out of courts, and you’re seeing a lot More with third party vendors who are finding impressive ways of taking the data that is found in those court dockets. And creating algorithms creating analysis, finding out, you know, which which way judges tend to typically answer certain questions. There’s, there’s a wealth of value in that. And so if schools start pushing and teaching the docket information that’s out there, that that may be one more pressure point on the courts themselves, especially the state courts to make that information more readily accessible, and not so doggone expensive. And so that’s one of the things that we we I mean, we spend 10s of 1000s of dollars a month in accessing docket information for for the firm. And so and, you know, and we can we can afford that. And I know that there’s, you know, this is a different conversation again, for another longer podcast.
Katie Brown 46:08
You just have to bring me back. Yeah.
Greg Lambert 46:11
But, you know, I would love to have the schools putting pressure on the courts, making, you know, making pacer free making court doc, state court docket information, free, or at least somehow more accessible, and more affordable than it is now.
Katie Brown 46:30
And I think the other piece of that, that you mentioned, was standardization of it, right? Like where we can standardize I think that that will enable it to be taught easier as well.
Greg Lambert 46:39
Yep. Yep. I agree. All right. Well, Katie Brown, I thank you very much for stepping in. Well, while Marlene is flying to, to National Harbor and probably having having drinks with friends this afternoon, man so so thank you very much for for taking the time to talk with me.
Katie Brown 47:00
Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun. Yeah,
Greg Lambert 47:03
you’ll you’ll definitely have to come back. So
Katie Brown 47:07
works for me. Let me know when.
Greg Lambert 47:10
And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast if you enjoy the show, and I hope you do share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. It can be reached at G Lambert. Org Lambert on Twitter. Katie, what about you?
Katie Brown 47:27
Yeah, you can reach out to me via LinkedIn. It’s actually Kathleen Katie Brown. Or you can also reach out to me at trusted School of Law. My email is right there and feel free to email me awesome. We’ll be fine with that.
Greg Lambert 47:39
Or if you want to you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7270. And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca. Thank you, Jerry. And thank you, Katie. Thanks for stepping in. Again. Hey, hey. Welcome back. To back devils back at the devils back