We kick off our new “Love & Legal Tech” series this week where we embark on a journey to explore the personal and professional lives of couples in the legal tech industry. We are excited to interview couples who share in the excitement of weaving their professional endeavors into their personal relationships. We think this is going to be a great series where couples get a chance to tell their stories of how they balance what one of our guests describes as “Work-Life-Integration.”
Our inaugural guests, Alex Macdonald and Cassie Vertovec share their unique story of how a solid professional collaboration slowly turned into a deep, personal connection. Alex, the Chief Strategy Officer at McCarter and English, LLP, and Cassie, the Practice Director of Corporate and Director of Practice Strategies at Barnes & Thornburg, began their journey in the legal tech world at Seyfarth Shaw. Over the years they have found themselves leading teams together, moving across the country, isolating together during the pandemic, and most recently working in similar firms. They navigated their careers with mutual respect and understanding, highlighting the importance of communication and shared values in both their professional and personal lives.
They provide insights into the dynamics of working as a couple while maintaining a balance between work and persona life. Which is no easy feat as they are both intertwined with the legal profession. Their story is a testament to the idea that professional collaboration can lead to personal growth and deeper connections.
Our hopes with the “Love & Legal Tech” series are that we not only offer a glimpse into the lives of a couple navigating love and legal tech but also shed light on broader themes within the legal industry, including the shift towards greater tech integration and the challenges and opportunities it presents. Our sincere thanks to Cassie and Alex for sharing their story with us on this series premiere.
Twitter: @gebauerm, or @glambert
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Music: Jerry David DeCicca
Marlene Gebauer 0:07
Welcome to The Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal profession. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 0:14
And I’m Greg Lambert. And we just flew back from legal week. Marlene, I had a hit, we actually ended up on the same flight back. And we had such a great conversation because I think I slept for two hours.
Marlene Gebauer 0:30
It’s like, we played games, we watch movies, and we slept. I think so. Yeah. That’s really what you should do on a on a fight, I think.
Greg Lambert 0:38
Absolutely, absolutely. So we are really excited because we’re going to start off our new love and legal tech feature. And today we have with us Cassie Vertovec, who is the practice Director of Corporate and direct practice director, corporate and director of practice strategies at Barnes & Thornburg, Cassie can we shorten that down a little bit?
Cassie Vertovec 1:06
Now they suckered me and Greg, they gave me two jobs when I was gonna start.
Greg Lambert 1:11
Two jobs, one salary, that’s a title two job. All right. It’s the American way that was done. And we have Cassie’s partner, Alex Macdonald, who is the Chief Strategy Officer at McCarter and English, LLP was so Alex welcome as well.
Alex Macdonald 1:30
Thank you. It’s a nice short title. And yeah, so I appreciate that.
Cassie Vertovec 1:36
Fitting to our personalities, by the way, he’s a lot more short and sweet. And I tend to run on,
Greg Lambert 1:42
I can tell this is gonna be great already. So before we begin, I did want to start because we’re calling this a love and legal tech, but just like this podcast, we’re, we’re not just about the technology, we’re about the innovation, we’re about creativity. So we’re using kind of a broad definition. But we’re leaving it in. Casssie, we’re going with the short title, just loving LegalTech. And so we’re happy to do that. So. So, and you guys are first couple to have on. So thank you very much for
Cassie Vertovec 2:20
Greg Lambert 2:22
Yeah, yeah, this is this is going I can tell this is gonna be fun. All
Cassie Vertovec 2:27
right around the block. So maybe, maybe it’s good that it’s us. Yeah,
Greg Lambert 2:31
yeah. So well, Cassie wants to start with you. Can you just kind of talk to us a little bit about what you do in the legal field?
Cassie Vertovec 2:41
Sure. So I would broadly refer to my role as practice management. But it’s really a lot more than that. I’ve been working in large law firms for really about the last 20 years doing everything on the business operations, management and strategy side of things. And so, as of early December, I’m at Barnes and Thornburg. And I’ve got both a practice management role within the corporate department and a firm wide strategy role.
Greg Lambert 3:05
And Alex, give us a little background on you.
Alex Macdonald 3:08
Yeah, what she said. But if you want a little bit more, so I started my career off as a legal industry consultant. And I was predominantly back in those days focused on implementation of legal technology, as it created efficiencies within various legal teams. And that led to more operational consulting, as I progressed in my consulting career, and then from there, that’s where I went in house for me, which is where I met Cassie at Seyfarth Shaw. And I’m sure we’ll get into that. A little bit of practice management role. And since then, progress through the practice management side of the house, within big law, but about five years ago, took a position at McCarter and English, which pushed me more into the firm leadership and management space. So while I continue to have the practice management, legal techie stuff, you know, within my remit, I have, you know, all the boring stuff too, like loss prevention, and, you know, whether or not they’re the right doors around the conference firms and things like that, as well. So it’s been a it’s been a little bit of a shift the last couple years in particular, but all for the better.
Marlene Gebauer 4:16
So Alex, you you mentioned briefly how the two of you met, but I’m wondering if you guys can sort of give a little more detail about kind of how that relationship, you know, grew and blossomed.
Alex Macdonald 4:26
That’s good. Let’s say she hired me, but that’s not exactly the case.
Cassie Vertovec 4:30
I was gonna say I could do the short and sweet there. I’m good with that.
Alex Macdonald 4:40
No, she did not hire. He was part of the team that hired me, like I mentioned, I was I was consulting and at that point in time, I was traveling upwards of 200,000 miles a year flying and it just, it got to be too much for me and I really wanted to look for a little bit more of a stable lifestyle. So I started to look at law firms and sidebars had, obviously a great reputation for innovation and process. And for somebody like me, that was a great spot and applied for a role there. Cassie was one of the impressive people on the on the team that hired me. And, you know, I think our friendship blossomed from there and obviously, you know, house a couple houses and child later. Here we are.
Cassie Vertovec 5:30
A little bit more color. Has it I think this might be a little bit interesting. So we worked together at Seyfarth Shaw for a while, but we clicked right away. It’s partly why I recommended that we hire him. It’s partly why he wanted to come and join us. And we did we blossomed a really strong friendship and just partnership, we were like minded in a lot of things. We were doing presentations together, like right off them went off the bed as well. And it took both of us kind of confiding in each other, about a headhunter that reached out about a job opportunity in a completely different place, namely Washington, DC, for us to really start talking about making a move together, not together together, but together. And it took all of that to happen for us to realize that we had feelings for each other and that there was something there. And when we finally went back and told our staff, Redshaw colleagues, they all effectively rolled their eyes at us. And we’re like, yeah, duh,
Marlene Gebauer 6:28
no kidding. What took you so long?
Cassie Vertovec 6:32
It took us way longer than I took everyone else.
Alex Macdonald 6:35
This might be TMI, I mean, we told each other, we love each other before we had ever kissed just friendship blossom so deeply, to the point where when we were at that point, were like, should we be doing this? Is this what we’re doing? That I was like, no, no, we were like, I think we love each other. And, you know, so it was really backwards in many ways. And then, you know, from there, we probably spent, you know, we were talking about this earlier today at lunch that, you know, it was probably a little, maybe an exaggeration, but not quite well, you could count on two hands, the number of days we were apart over the next five or six years, that we work 24 hours a day together in the office, at home, in the office at home. And you really get the appreciate how strong a connection you have when when that’s sort of the repetitive pattern you have day in and day out. And, you know, Cassie likes to mention how, when the pandemic came around, and we had just split at that point, I had just gone to sidebar, she had just gone to her previous firm, or I just started just going to McCarter and she had just gone to her previous firm. And then the pandemic throw us back together again. And for us, it was like riding a bike. And we were right back into it. And I know a lot of couples struggle with that. But for us, it was it was old hat.
Greg Lambert 7:52
I was not expecting to start crying on this.
Marlene Gebauer 7:56
I mean, it must have been, you know, scary because you know who you are, you know, you’re really tight work colleagues. And, you know, you’re developing feelings, and it’s, you know, it’s like, are we gonna, are we gonna ruin this?
Alex Macdonald 8:12
There was some of that.
Cassie Vertovec 8:13
I don’t even think it was that? I don’t know, like I don’t, there wasn’t really a choice in it. We were just we were kind of both there. And that was it. It wasn’t like we could choose not to do it or turn it off. For me. At least it was this is the reality, and it feels like it’s been there forever. Even though it’s all brand new. It’s kind of backwards.
Alex Macdonald 8:36
Yeah, I was gonna say there’s some of that it wasn’t that it was necessarily scary. It was more of oh, man, we just made this move to this firm together. We weren’t together when we made the move. Now we’re together. How is this going to be viewed by the employer? Because we were brought there to build an entire department together. And so we were working hand in hand they banked on us jointly. And we we felt like we were keeping something from them for a while. And then ultimately, it got to a point where it was untenable. We had to go to our our boss and say, hey, you know, look, this is what’s going on. Now. He was surprised. But he also also was very happy and excited because he said he couldn’t imagine two better people being together. So that stress was there for maybe the first 9-10 months or so but then you know, we pulled on it
Cassie Vertovec 9:31
I want to correct something though. Everything in a relationship is a we. But let’s just backtrack to how the conversation with that boss went down. And who had to deliver that message during her review? Oh, yeah. One of the two of us took one for the team.
Alex Macdonald 9:53
I am the Chief Strategy Officer. So my strategy
Cassie Vertovec 9:57
At the time you were not And I found that for you, too, by the way,
Alex Macdonald 10:05
We could we could go on for hours and hours about how we’ll intertwine barriers and you know how we support each other. It’s, it is sort of the bedrock, I think of what certainly, I would credit. A large chunk of my success too is that I can, frankly, steal ideas from her brilliant mind and take them and incorporate them in what I do. And maybe she gets an idea once a quarter or so for me, hopefully. But you know, that ability to talk with somebody on a on a on that professional level, but also have the deep respect and love you out for them is something really, I think, pretty special. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Greg Lambert 10:47
And, I would think a lot of people would think that, especially the way you two were working together for such a long period of time, that you know, it’d be one of those things. Where Don’t you get tired after a while of, you know, seeing the same person talking about the same things is and so what do you think was the best thing about, you know, being in the same profession and working together?
Cassie Vertovec 11:18
Hey, I think that that’s, that’s kind of two part for us. I think you saw both of us shake our heads and for people just listening. We don’t ever get sick of each other. Do we get sick of the subject matter? Absolutely. And have we have we debated a disputed over how much we talk about work? Absolutely. I mean, when you spend 24 hours a day together there, there’s only so much really to talk about. But I do think that, for us, in particular, because our lives are so intertwined. They’re just so intertwined. We talk about everything all the time. And we have made a conscious effort, not to talk as much about work. And it does help that we have a daughter, she’s six. And Alex has a son, who is 19. And so we have kids in the life, we like to travel a lot, we have other interests. So we have made a point to talk about other things. But we it’s still a challenge. I mean, it’s been a decade. And here we are still talking about work doing work things all the time.
Alex Macdonald 12:28
Yeah, I mean, it’s Cassie has a term earlier today that I don’t think she coined, but certainly we use quite a bit. It’s called Work Life integration. And if there’s any couple that has worked in life, sort of fully integrated, I think it’s probably us, I mean, we’ll have a we’ll be having a conversation about maybe an ill family member, or they are something our child has to get better at, at school, or, you know, my son’s girlfriend, and then all intertwined with that will be, you know, oh, but this person at work was doing this, or my executive committee is expecting XYZ out of me in the next, you know, in the next 30 days, and it really sort of all seamlessly flows is one organic conversation, which I can imagine people from the outside looking at it would go that, that spins my head, how you guys are hopping topics together, but it’s because of that, you know, that amount of time we spend together that I think, you know, we almost have a shorthand way of speaking, which is, you know, also I find to be, you know, endearing, but also, I can imagine to other people, they might find it a little ball.
Marlene Gebauer 13:41
I’m kind of curious, I mean, sort of what’s been the most challenging thing about being in the same profession, like beyond to people, you know, to professionals working full time having kids. You know, is there something specific about sort of being in the same profession that that is a particular challenge?
Alex Macdonald 14:04
Oh, I, can I can at the risk of maybe, you know, saying something that was going to make you mad. I think I think there can be a tendency at points to benchmark yourself, especially as to type a people you will know, that your firms offer especially now that we’re different firms, you know, well, your opportunity is x or people you get to work with our why and my opportunities and, and that, personally for me is difficult because I don’t you know, I try not to do that in any walk of life but trying to try to just be accountable to myself and worry about myself. There’s a natural tendency I think it points to try and when you’re type A and you’re ambitious, and you want to succeed in your career, you and you have somebody next to you who’s doing the same thing you sometimes try to measure yourself against that person and I’m You know, in a relationship, that’s, that’s a difficult thing.
Cassie Vertovec 15:05
And let’s be real. I mean, we work in large law firms, which means that we are kind of stuck in the prehistoric age in many different many ways. What and there have definitely been times over the last decade when Alex and I have been working together. And not, when there’s been a circumstance when, let’s just say, if we were working from the exact same presentation, the exact same script, it would be reflected differently if it was delivered by him or delivered by me. And that’s, that’s a challenging thing to get past. And, you know, I’m the one that struggled to get past it more, and he’s the one that would hear the benchmarking. And so those were definitely moments for us where we had to think about what am I really trying to say, and what’s really what am I really trying to solve for? And then what is he really hearing. So we could ultimately also improve our communication, which is another thing that we worked on at work together because we were hired to run a team. So communication was really important for us professionally. And then we were figuring out communication personally, as well. And that’s where someone that I think intersected a little bit and became just maybe a little bit challenging for us. But I think because we’re so close, and we’ve got such a good deep foundation. It’s not like any of these things were ever issues for us. They were just little things that we had to figure out and move on from.
Greg Lambert 16:32
Yeah, that kind of reminds me we had a conversation years ago with Ryan McClead, who is going to be on with Kate Boyd, in one of the later shows that it we had this argument years ago. And I think Marlene remembers us where we’d went to a conference, and somebody was saying, Well, I can’t tell you how you know what we’re doing, because you might steal that. And Ryan and I were both like, you could lay out everything you’re doing in order. And there is no way that I can go to my firm in my environment in my culture, and do that. So it doesn’t matter what you tell me, it’s going to be so much different, you know, when we do it there. So I imagine that there’s, you know, there’s this issue of, you know, well, I had to be careful so that I don’t you know, let this out, let this out. Like most most law firms are so, so different from each other, that it doesn’t matter. Are you finding that to? Can be the case?
Alex Macdonald 17:38
Yeah, well, I have a sign up on my wall in my office, it says culture eats strategy for breakfast. I know, it’s a well known term. But I I believe that wholeheartedly, and it’s sort of a reminder to me, Greg, exactly, that, you know, IT strategy you employ, has to mesh and that the firm’s and we all know that firms are all totally different. You know, I’d say but more recently, as Cassius moved, you know, into a firm, where it’s, you know, similar segment of the, of the market in terms of the clients and the type of work that we do, we definitely, you know, shifted gears a little bit and try it, you know, definitely paying much more attention to that sensitivity, maybe that’ll dissipate over time, because I tend to agree with you that, you know, she could give me the secret sauce to coke. And it’s not going to be our secret sauce to coke.
Cassie Vertovec 18:29
I guess also one thing to talk about, like, things that you’re doing, from a strategic standpoint, like things that you’re talking about in terms of lpm, or pricing or technology tools are pilots that you’re doing, like, that’s one thing. Whereas to talk to me about like, a partner of mine that you want to that you want to poach. Like, those are two different things. So right, and then we’re both smart enough and professional enough that we also know how to walk that line. But we do have to walk it really for the first time because when we both loved Venable, he went to McCarter and I went to Paul Hastings, the two firms are really not on each other’s radar. So it was just a completely different conversation. Whereas today, both firms are clearly on each other’s radar. So, but again, we’re smart enough and professional enough that we know how to keep that out of the conversation. When frankly, we would probably tease each other if it ever came to pass like the competition.
Alex Macdonald 19:27
I was gonna say it also helps fuel the the, the, you know, fuel having other conversations, which I’m all for this now.
Greg Lambert 19:37
What what do people say when when you tell them that you’re a couple and you both work in the same industry?
Marlene Gebauer 19:43
Yeah, because when when we set this out, like we were thinking, Oh, I mean, we know a couple people but we were very surprised at the amount of people that that you know, they are couples in this this this industry and, you know, we’re willing to talk So yeah, what what, you know, what are you finding?
Cassie Vertovec 20:04
I think that when we, when we tell new people, especially now that we’ve lived through a pandemic, the first thing that people say is, oh, I could never do that. I could never work with my spouse, I killed them, we wouldn’t survive. And I think a lot of marriages and relationships didn’t survive the pandemic, for that reason, and everybody was under one roof at the same time, it didn’t really know how to do that. And for us, it’s just, it’s how we started. And so it’s very natural. And people have to see us together, they just kind of get it. I don’t know, Alex, what else you would add?
Alex Macdonald 20:41
Yeah, I think people find that out, you know, in our personal life, and, and, you know, they’re not totally surprised that we would be aligned with interest, because we appear aligned on a lot of things that way. But I’m gonna shift gears a little bit and tell a little bit of a funny story. When I started at McCarter within a month, I had to give a presentation on our partner retreat. And I went through this whole dog and pony show where I was presenting data, and I was saying, you know, these are the things we want to focus on. And, you know, yadda, yadda, yadda, but my real motivation is, and I kept flashing up, you know, pictures of Cassie and saying, how, you know, beat Cassie was effectively my motivation, because it’s the first time we’d split, you know, go back to that type of a competition type of thing. But I was doing a tongue in cheek, of course, but I still have partners, you come up to me five years later and ask how Cassie is doing and asking, you know, whether or not I’m winning in the competition?
Marlene Gebauer 21:44
Cassie Vertovec 21:45
That’s when he was nicknamed the Night King, early on.
Alex Macdonald 21:51
I did. But that’s a whole other story. But sometimes I, I have to stop and remember what I said all those years ago, because that was just a gimmick that I use to sort of introduce myself to the firm. It’s not, it’s, it’s not who we are. And so I think when people find it out, you know, they probably hear what they, you know, what they want to hear about it. You know, I think most people want to know what we talk about all the time. And, you know, the answer is, you know, we talk about what everybody talks about, we just happen when we talk about work to have a little bit of a deeper appreciation for, for what each other is going through.
Marlene Gebauer 22:32
So, I mean, I know you’ve, you’ve mentioned that, you know, both of you have worked together in the past, and though you may not be working together now. You know, how did you handle situations where, you know, you didn’t agree on on, you know, the approach. And, you know, I’m also wondering how that, how that, how that carries over until now.
Greg Lambert 22:56
How’s that carry over after five o’clock?
Cassie Vertovec 22:59
We open a bottle of wine.
Greg Lambert 23:02
Marlene Gebauer 23:02
Wine solves many problems.
Alex Macdonald 23:04
Luckily, for us, when we work together, there were few, you know, the, the space between us was, was pretty narrow. But the times boy, cool. The times when we did disagree on something. Those were probably some of the, the, the, yeah, I’ll just call spade a spade, the ugly stuff, it’s in our relationship. And luckily for us, they haven’t been that many. And, you know, luckily for us, we don’t really have those anymore, because we don’t work together. But it is difficult. There’s no doubt about it. And for me, in particular, I, I when I don’t get mad easily. And when I do get mad, it is it is a weeks long event. So I apologize for those for those occurrences. But, yeah, so luckily for us, it just doesn’t happen that often. But when it does, I’m sorry.
Cassie Vertovec 23:59
And I would say I would agree that early on it just it made it so easy. And it’s why we knew it’s kind of why we wanted to take the jobs at Venable is we knew that we worked together. And I think it’s what made us attractive to them was they were looking to build something. And it’s really hard to pick off individual people at a senior level who don’t know each other and say, Okay, now get into the kitchen and try to build this together, especially if they’re not starting at the exact same time. You end up just backpedaling then and not really getting anything done. And we had this track record, we knew that we liked each other. We knew that we worked really well together, we communicated very well. And we just came from generally the same perspective. And so I think our foundation was built on on that, which made it a little bit easier as we got down the line. As Alex said, when we were you know, we were very emotionally invested in each other and what we were doing we both relocated from Chicago to Washington DC to make that work and the that for Room was completely and totally different from the firm we came from. I mean, you talk about apples and oranges, and it’s apples and oranges. Even though on paper, they looked kind of similar some of the key metrics at the time, but couldn’t have been more different. And the culture point that Alex made was a key one. And I’m a hot temper, I cooled off easy, but I’m a hot temper. And I don’t necessarily show it in my day job. But when your day job bleeds into your life, we would get going on something and it would just run. And we would take it and I, you know, we’d run hot and back and forth and debating whatever it was, we were debating, I can’t even remember like a single topic that we debated about, because then I think it probably came to everything under the sun, and sometimes required a you know, a walk outside and the cool air to figure that out. But ultimately, we always, we always came back and cooled down and, and figured it out. And I don’t think that there was really anything negative that came from it, especially in terms of our work product. Like we came back together, we figured out a way forward, it was sometimes a compromise, I prefer to go with the Win Win approach than the compromise being a lose, lose. But in like every relationship, there’s always some bit of that. And I think that our stuff and only saw that, especially as it came to work, because we were, we were so careful and so thoughtful, to make sure that our team never ever felt that there was anything going on because we had a personal relationship that was not meant for the workplace. And so we just I think we went over and above to make sure that things during the work day stayed where they were. And that also might be why we had some of those after hours, tiffs, you know, because we really, we really focused so hard during the day to make sure that everybody was comfortable with our working environment.
Alex Macdonald 26:50
Yeah, and the other, the other part of that, I’m glad you reminded me that, you know, you’d be sitting there in a room where, you know, you might disagree with something. And that was probably one of the hardest things about working together was, you did have to share that united front because you were jointly running a team. And, you know, typically you we would all do that if we were jointly running a team, we would support our colleague and show united front to the team, then you go home, where you’d normally get to vent about all that other person. It’s such it’s such a thing. Well, when we went home, it was together. And so the only first of the vent to about that other person doing the such and such a thing was that other person. So I think over time, you know, we learned, we I think we do what we do, we turned it into a positive and we learned how to use it to communicate better and understand each other’s perspective on things. Luckily, we don’t work together anymore. So we definitely don’t have those situations that those exact situations that come up, but you know, it, it definitely strengthened us as a couple out to go through those things. You know, over the years.
Cassie Vertovec 27:57
And I think we really enjoyed working together. That mean, I say that really and truly like, I I really loved that time of life when we were working together and figuring stuff out, you know, on a professional level. But we obviously know the personal level. And I’m good with that, too.
Alex Macdonald 28:14
Greg Lambert 28:15
Because I was gonna ask you how you balance that, but it sounds like you want over time you kind of learned that. And I imagine when you were working together, it was probably a little bit more structured on, okay, we’re transitioning into our personal life, let’s leave work behind us a little bit or
Alex Macdonald 28:34
Literally, structured sometimes. I mean, it would be like, you know, kiss in the car, and then don’t come within six feet of each other the rest of the day.
Cassie Vertovec 28:44
While there was that, but we also we didn’t we didn’t have kids at that point. Like together.
Greg Lambert 28:50
Cassie Vertovec 28:50
And so there really was no separation, we’d leave work and work clothes would go to a restaurant, have conversations continuing whatever it was that we were talking about previously. Like we made a life doing other things. We got great friends, and we’re living in Washington, DC, we played sports, we traveled a lot. But I would say a majority of our life was just revolved around work. And then having when we had our daughter, that’s when things I think really started to become more clear, because you know, when you have kids, you become the topic of conversation like 90% of the time. So work took a major backseat to talking about our daughter. And you know, over the years, I think I was joking with Alex earlier when I said this because I said I think this is the term that the kids are using the work life integration. But I do think it really does describe it epitomize a little bit, what our lives have become as the way that we just we integrate pretty seamlessly, our personal stuff that we really enjoy on the side, and then everything related to our jobs as well.
Greg Lambert 29:59
Yeah, And then Marlene, you’re muted.
Marlene Gebauer 30:05
Sorry about that the dog was barking. So, shifting to sort of professional now like what, you know, what are some of the interesting things that the two of you are doing now in in the legal tech world.
Greg Lambert 30:22
It’s AI, right?
Marlene Gebauer 30:26
Got to be AI
Alex Macdonald 30:28
researcher by the AI. But, you know, I think that’s probably a good example of where Cassie and I might have different views on and we have some spirited debates over the impact of AI in our field. But you know, I mean, I’m fortunate enough I, my job is, you’re broad in scope, I wear a ton of different hats in the firm. So, you know, one of the things isn’t legal tech related. But, you know, I get to spend a lot of time growing the firm, and going around and meeting lawyers from a bunch of different walks of life, whether they be lawyers who are at boutique firms who are looking to wind those firms down and use a acquisition by us as a, as a retirement strategy or continuity strategy all the way to, you know, partner at XYZ, big firm who’s, you know, thinking about a transition and looks at our platform that might make sense, for any number of reasons. And I found that part of the job recently to be a really fulfilling part of, of what I do. But you know, in the legal tech specific space, I mean, we’ve found that some of the automation is much more ready and ripe for our operations, rather than necessarily client client facing your client service. And so we’re spending a decent amount of time and resources focused there. You can, you’ve probably heard it, and you’re thinking about automating AP, you know, for example, I mean, that’s, that’s sort of an easy one, or, you know, automating things around our help desk, for tech support and things of that nature. That, to me seems to be a much more ubiqui tous technology that’s available and more mature. And one that impacts the bottom line of the firm just as much as trying to figure out crack the nut of, you know, the service delivery. But, you know, it’s, it’s an interesting time to do what we do, I think the industry is at an inflection point, anybody who ever hears me talk about the industry will hear me say, you know, how they’re, you know, there are these different sort of crisis points in, in the larger world that tend to create big shifts in our industry, whether it goes back to the, you know, 911, or to the economic collapse in 2008 2009. And now to COVID. I think all of those events drive tremendous change through our industry. And so right at the sort of the beginning point of this next wave, and, you know, certainly legal tech is going to be one of those, one of those leading catalysts of that wave.
Greg Lambert 33:20
Cassie, what are you doing?
Cassie Vertovec 33:22
Well, I’m 60 days into a new job. So I’m doing a lot of everything and a lot of nothing. So asked me again, the next time we talk, but really, I’m getting up to speed on what’s a great firm, a firm that is very tech forward, in my opinion, they’ve already opened their doors to a lot of really great vendors. And we, one of the things that we really need to focus on is more tech adoption. It’s not necessarily bringing in the tech, but it’s more making sure that we’re leveraging it and using it, and driving those efficiencies and the gains and profitability within the business. We have a an AI committee that I’m going to be part of which I’m really excited about, because I’m on the side of the debate here that thinks that generative AI is something that we do need to be thinking about and considering will have to implement.
Alex Macdonald 34:21
I think we’ll need to be thinking about it. I just don’t think it’s as disruptive as people think it’s gonna be but yeah,
Cassie Vertovec 34:27
Yeah, we can get into that today. But I’m glad to be involved in in those conversations and thinking about where we can and should be going and how we can help the business and the practice of law to be even more efficient. I agree with Alex, I think. I think it’s an exciting time to be in legal today. I feel that in our positions being on the professional side of the firm, we actually make a difference in the client relationship today. We can actually be the make or break decision for us. Lion and whether or not they want to do work with our firms that the cost of you know, am law 100 Law Firm, pretty good lawyers, right? Typically, you’re gonna go to any one of the law and 100 firms and you can find a good lawyer, so becomes more than about just finding the good lawyer becomes about the experience with the firm. And that’s everything that we touch. And so I think it’s an exciting time because we get to, we get to play a role in that client relationship and helping the firm to drive a competitive advantage and to be sticky. And I’m, I’m excited about that. And again, as asked me in six months or so what I’m doing, and I’m sure I’ll have a much more succinct list of interesting things, but for right now, I think it’s a lot of everything and nothing
Greg Lambert 35:42
Makes sense. Makes sense. But normally, we ask our, our guests what we call our crystal ball question. And, Cassie, I’m so glad that you are part of our first couple because you are a Valentine’s Day baby. And so maybe we coined this Marlene as the Valentine’s question. Right? And so what advice would you give another couple who’s considering working in the same field or working together in the in the same business that you think would help them succeed? Alex, won’t we go with you? And Cassie, we’ll we’ll finish up with the with our own St. Valentine did to answer that?
Alex Macdonald 36:28
Yeah, I don’t know, if there’s a one size fits all answer, Greg, I think, you know, it really is about compatibility. You know, there are some couples that work out just fine and are great couples, but it’s because they have the space and distance and the independence to live, you know, different lives and work in and sometimes even personally, you know, so in order for people working together, whether it’s in the legal industry, or starting a business together, or whatever the case may be spending that much time together, is you really takes just a special set of communication skill set that, you know, you got to be open to it, and you got to have the right person, but I don’t know that there’s a one size fits all. answer to that. I’m sorry, that’s not a great answer, but it’s my answer.
Greg Lambert 37:28
Well, let’s see if Cassie has a one size fits all answer.
Cassie Vertovec 37:33
You know, I don’t think that Alex and I step back often and realize just how rare our relationship is, yeah, that we did start by working together and then built a friendship and then started working even more closely together by building a team together and then built a family together and spent 24 hours a day together, while we were working for the same company, and then 24 hours a day together working for different companies with a two year old at home during a pandemic. And so I think he’s right, unfortunately, Greg, for you, that there really is not a one size fits all answer. But he he used compatibility, which I think was a great choice of c word I was gonna go with the other C word he mentioned, which is communication, that I think people who are going to be getting into a relationship. And I mean, at all, that’s obviously it’s obvious, but you communication is key, as corny as it is it’s true. But if you’re going to get into the same in a relationship with somebody that you work with, whether it’s just in the same industry, or the same company, or even in the same team, I think that you have to bring things forward, you have to talk about how you’re feeling. And if there are things that bother you, like, we had a lot of conversations about the benchmarking, because that was something that Alex really, really felt. And it was something that I never intended to do. But I was trying to think talk about things that were important are bothering me. And you have to figure out how to bring all of that out and share it with each other. So that it can be out in the open, you can figure it out and you can move on together and become stronger. I think for us, you know, realizing almost a decade and like our relationship is stronger than ever. And that’s after working together twice, having a child working separately through a pandemic and dealing with everything else that life has thrown our way which has been a lot. And so I would say also to be patient and have faith in each other, respect each other, just kind of the grace to see your relationship through but that would be for anybody anywhere, not just those working in the same job or industry.
Alex Macdonald 39:42
See, I’d like to take her answer.
Cassie Vertovec 39:46
You didn’t want the short and sweet this time?
Alex Macdonald 39:48
No, this is better.
Greg Lambert 39:52
Well, Cassie Vertovec and Alex MacDonald, I want to thank you both for coming on the show and sharing your love and legal tech stories.. Thank you both.
Marlene Gebauer 40:01
Thank you both. That was great you. 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, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found on LinkedIn or on X at @gebauerm, and on Threads at @mgebauer66.
Greg Lambert 40:21
And I can be reached on LinkedIn or on X @glambert Or on threads at @glambertpod. Cassie, let’s start with you. If somebody wanted to learn more, reach out where’s the where’s a good place to find you online?
Cassie Vertovec 40:37
Well, not on @glambert that’s for sure. But find me on LinkedIn.
Greg Lambert 40:43
Alex Macdonald 40:45
at LinkedIn similarly or some other way or find me on the mccarter.com website and send me a note.
Cassie Vertovec 40:52
NO X no Tiktok no worrying any of that. Sorry. You guys
Greg Lambert 40:58
don’t have a have a couple of Tik Tok legal tech, couples
Marlene Gebauer 41:02
dance dance videos or anything like that.
Cassie Vertovec 41:05
Ask us next time.
Greg Lambert 41:08
In that six month reunion tour, we’ll get back to you.
Marlene Gebauer 41:13
Check back. And as always, everyone the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 41:18
Yeah, thanks, Jerry. All right, everyone. Thank you very much.
Marlene Gebauer 41:21