In the latest episode of “The Geek in Review,” hosts Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer sat down with Karen Dunn Skinner and David Skinner, the dynamic duo behind Gimbal Consulting. This episode, part of the “Love & Legal Tech” mini-series, explores the professional and personal journey of Karen and David, who have carved a niche in the legal tech industry by helping lawyers build practices they love, ensuring they also have time to enjoy life outside work.

Karen and David shared their fascinating backstory, from meeting in law school to their adventures in Budapest, Hungary, and beyond. These experiences not only enriched their personal lives but also shaped their professional paths, leading to the inception of Gimbal Consulting. Their work focuses on adapting Lean and Lean Six Sigma methodologies to the legal profession, aiming to streamline lawyers’ practices for increased productivity and profitability.

Working together has its unique set of challenges and rewards, as the Skinners highlighted. Their collaboration is built on a deep understanding and mutual respect for each other’s strengths and viewpoints, even when they differ. This synergy has allowed them to navigate their professional endeavors successfully while maintaining a strong personal relationship.

The episode also delves into the practicalities and philosophies that guide Karen and David’s work-life integration. They emphasized the importance of establishing routines that cater to both their professional and personal needs, such as their morning meetings in the hot tub, which blend work planning with relaxation.

For couples considering a similar path, Karen and David offered sage advice: embrace the journey with open hearts and minds, acknowledging that while working with your spouse can be challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding. Their story is a testament to the power of partnership in both love and legal tech.

Listeners of “The Geek in Review” will find this episode not only inspiring but also filled with practical insights into making a significant impact in the legal tech space while nurturing a fulfilling personal life.

Listen on mobile platforms:  ⁠⁠⁠Apple Podcasts⁠⁠⁠ |  ⁠⁠⁠Spotify⁠⁠⁠ | ⁠⁠YouTube⁠⁠


Contact Us: 

Twitter: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@gebauerm⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, or ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@glambert
⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Threads: @glambertpod or @gebauerm66
Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠⁠ and Eve Searls


Marlene Gebauer 0:04
Welcome to The Geek in Review the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal profession. I’m Marlene Gebauer,

Greg Lambert 0:10
And I’m Greg Lambert. So for our love and legal tech feature we have with us today, Karen Dunn Skinner, who’s the co founder and CEO at Gimbal. Karen, welcome to the The Geek in Review.

Karen Dunn Skinner 0:24
Glad to be here.

Greg Lambert 0:25
And we have with her Karen’s partner in crime, David Skinner, who is the co founder and president of Gimbal’s So, David, welcome.

David Skinner 0:36
Thank you very much. Nice to be here,

Greg Lambert 0:38
you’re gonna have a child to introduce.

Karen Dunn Skinner 0:43
This is what happens when you work together. Do you first so now is it alright? And well, that is one of our children, and they have an override. And so we always have to warn them. This is something to remember when you work with your spouse. You have to warn them not to contact you during broadcasts or No,

Marlene Gebauer 0:59
does that actually work? I was gonna say that it does not work for me.

Unknown Speaker 1:03
He’s 26. So you should get it.

Greg Lambert 1:05
Hey, hope hope springs eternal.

Marlene Gebauer 1:07
Yeah. I have a few more years from that. But all right, I just said maybe someday, I can hope. I can hope. Okay. And that’s so so. So Karen, Karen. And David, tell us a little bit about what you do at Gimbal. And maybe kind of what you did before that kind of got you each to Gimbal.

Karen Dunn Skinner 1:28
Oh, okay. So it’s funny, because when we were invited to come on and talk about love and legal tech, my first question was, we don’t really do a legal text specifically. But we use the legal tech all the time and talk to our clients about it all the time,

Marlene Gebauer 1:41
we use the legal tech very loosely, yeah, we’re very loose on this.

Karen Dunn Skinner 1:46
So what we do is we help lawyers build practices that they love, that also gives them time to build lives that they love, we help people to be more productive, being more profitable without working as hard. And we really started the business because we had practice law, both of us for over 20 years, and very large law firms. And I ended up at a solo practice and David in house and did a PhD partway through that. So there’s a lot we’ve been, we’ve been around, we’ve done different things in the legal profession for a long time. And one of the things that we found was, there had to be a better way to do it. Because honestly, we don’t very often meet unhappy ex lawyers. And that tells you a lot about the profession. And so we thought there has to be a better way to do it. So we looked around, we looked at different ways of looking at the practice looking at the delivery of legal services, and we hit on eventually in like 2011 2012, on this idea of, could we adapt lean and Lean Six Sigma to the practice of law. And that’s kind of what brought us in, and we looked at what Seyfarth was doing, we looked at what a Canadian law firm BLG was doing. And we were friends with one of the partners at BLG, who said, this is really working for us. So we started really thinking about how we could adapt that to the practice law. And that’s really what got us to start Gimbal, we did some training, I got a black belt in Lean Six Sigma. And over the years, we’ve just been adapting those strategies and others, but those approaches to streamlining the way that lawyers practice with a real focus on getting people to think about their work differently and think about their value differently. So that they also value their lives. You know, we get sucked in, in law a lot of times and it’s hard to have the life that you want.

Greg Lambert 3:28
David, anything to add to that.

David Skinner 3:31
Not in particular, no, I at its core, our focus is on helping people be as great as the business of laws, they are at the practice of law, most lawyers that you come across are really good at what they do. And they genuinely enjoy what they do. But the common refrain is almost always just way too busy to get the mission critical things that I need to get done in a regular day. So I sacrifice my evenings with my family, I sacrifice holiday weekends away, I sacrifice the kid’s ballet, and our soccer events. And that’s just not the way it has to be. It really doesn’t. And our focus is on helping people realize that through a clearer focus, and a clear plan towards efficiency and effectiveness, they can be more productive, they can be more profitable. And the end result of that is they end up with a huge amount more time to focus on the things that really matter whether Greg that happens to be getting more of mission critical legal work done or getting out of dodge and spending time business developing or spending time with your community, your church, whatever it happens to be family. And that’s the sort of lack of balance that or integration that people tend to have in the practice. It’s sort of all in nothing leftover. And I think that’s really unfortunate. So our mission really is to help people be as great at the business of law as they are at the practice of law and to have the time and freedom to enjoy their success doing other things that they love.

Greg Lambert 5:01
So Karen, I wanted to ask you about the black belt in, in six sigma. How many boards? Do you have to break?

Karen Dunn Skinner 5:10
I know break boards. I make a lot of boards. I make a lot of

Greg Lambert 5:13
posts. Do you have to put on that board?

Karen Dunn Skinner 5:15
Oh, my God. So we were, we have posted notes everywhere. And we were just at we were just on site with a client in, in Atlanta up there. Yeah, we were on site with a client in Atlanta all last week, doing a huge process improvement project with their legal team and their commercial team and some sales folks and finance folks, really looking at their whole customer contracting process. And we use so many post-it notes and one guy walked into the room. And he’s like, I think the consulting business has maintained 3M and the posted business entirely for the last decade. And then he walked out again. And

David Skinner 5:49
our response to that was we wish he’d invested in 3M long time ago, because we could retire by now, right? We use a lot of post it notes. Someone else looked at the wall and said, Oh, this is totally overwhelming. There’s too many colors. I’m leaving.

Karen Dunn Skinner 6:02
Yeah, we liked those notes. There.

David Skinner 6:03
I’m keeping notes right now on a post it note there.

Greg Lambert 6:06
Well done. So you guys have done a really good job of pulling the company together. Do you mind? Let’s back up a little bit more. How did the two of you meet? And then? Did you guys work together before? Or is this kind of the first time that you’ve done a joint operation?

Karen Dunn Skinner 6:25
We’ve got a long story.

David Skinner 6:27
So the long story short is we met in law school. I was in my third year and Karen was an L one or freshman in law school

Karen Dunn Skinner 6:35
and you gave away the last hot dog at the barbecue.

David Skinner 6:37
I did I gave it

Greg Lambert 6:38
That seems to be sticking point still.

David Skinner 6:41
Hey, it is a little bit I gave the last hot dog away to one of our professors, Steven Perry. Yeah. And and Karen sort of didn’t forgive me for that. But the interesting thing is that Karen’s parents lived about a couple of miles downriver from very, very close family friends of, of my families. And for them, it’s a cottage for Karen’s family. It’s their principal residence. And they knew that Karen was coming to Montreal, and they’d been asked to sort of look out for her because she might need a room. When she first got to that shell finding it apart was a bit of a challenge. And the goofy thing is that years prior, when I was my last year of high school, I lived with those family friends of ours in the same house in the same room that Karen would have occupied had she not found an apartment. And they asked me to keep an eye out for her. So up shows this pretty young woman looking for, you know, food at the at the Dean’s barbecue barbecue reception, and you didn’t give it to her. And I did not give her I did not give it to her. But we became friends. And we started to see each other in January of that year. So we’ve actually been together for 33.

Karen Dunn Skinner 7:53
It’s January 1990, 1990. So

Greg Lambert 7:56
34 years. Very, very nice

David Skinner 7:59
to have that. And, yeah, so we met in law school. And then to answer your question, Greg, yeah, together. We did actually. I was working I was doing, I was a young attorney with Stikeman Elliott, which is large, what we call seven sister firm here in Canada. And I was working in their corporate commercial department, there was an opportunity for me to go overseas, we were already married. And I went overseas, ostensibly for a six week sort of helped them out. And as I left, I looked at Karen, I said, Look, pack your bags, because I’m not coming home. I’d already lived overseas. I’d lived in the States for four years and lived in Asia for a year. And I really longed to go back overseas and have that experience again. And so I packed my bags and headed off to Budapest, Hungary, ostensibly for six weeks, but with a plan. My plan was to make myself indispensable, and see if I could be offered a longer stay.

Karen Dunn Skinner 8:50
Yeah, yeah. And so after those six weeks that the managing partner of the Budapest office called and said, Karen, you want a job, and I said, Well, yeah, sure. But I have this articling position with you know, Blakey, and he’s like, I’ve already handled it. So. So I moved to Stikeman, and packed up two cats, two bicycles, and a goalie bag full of stuff, and moved to Hungary for what was supposed to be another sort of three months or something. But we had no intention of going back. And we ended up living in Budapest for two years and working together at Stikeman for those two years, and then we moved from there to England. And there was incredible reaction. So

Greg Lambert 9:29
action in Hungary.

Karen Dunn Skinner 9:31
Oh, no, not existed, but it was just the fact that we could find going back so huge.

David Skinner 9:37
So so we spent we spent two absolutely fabulously years living and working in Central and Eastern Europe. Oh, crazy work headquartered out of Budapest, but we spend time in Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Baku, Azerbaijan, Baku, Azerbaijan, it was an amazing experience as two young attorneys who are already married, no kids. We had an incredible time. And we’re very thankful to Stikeman Elliott for that experience. And then Karen started a PhD in London at the London School of Economics. And I moved to the Stikeman Elliott office in London. And after a couple of years quite legitimately said, David, you’ve been with us for X period of time. And if you want to be a partner, you need to go back to your domestic office of origin. And, and sort of, you know, walk the walk. And in my mind, at that time, they were asking me to return to my domestic office of origin, which was Montreal, and we had just come through another referendum on separation, and the economy was in a bit of a pickle place, society was in a bit of a difficult place. We look to each other in London, on my brother lived in London, my sister lived in London, and we did and our son had been born in London, and I changed I left I thanks stipend very much and I’m a huge fan of cyclin Elliot, but I went and worked for Freshfields, Bruckhaus Deringer for a couple of years in private m&a, private Equity, that gave me a taste for private Equity type work. And then I went and joined a venture capital company in the heady days of bubble. And I spent several years there became millionaire. And it was all in paper. And it all evaporated, all while Karen is, is doing her PhD. And then we came back to Canada. And then I started work as vice president, General Counsel and corporate secretary of a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company. And I did that for almost a decade. And I was very passionate about my work doing that, because my mother, my mother, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. So it was fabulous. It was a great experience. And then in

Greg Lambert 11:33
carrying it, what was your What was your PhD in?

Karen Dunn Skinner 11:36
So my PhD was in corporate governance, and I was, I was looking at the development of corporate governance structures in the recently privatized electricity industry in Eastern Europe. So what we had done with Stikeman was the privatization of the electricity industry, among other things. And I was heavily involved with the regular development of the regulatory framework for the industry. And then with the tendering and the process of selling all those companies. And I watched what happened to those companies as different purchasers moved in. So there were French companies and German companies and non American company, they all have very different corporate governance structures. And the Hungarian structure was malleable enough that it worked. And so that’s what I was doing my research. And I sadly, never finished my PhD because when we go back to Canada, I started a small practice working with some of my contacts from Europe. And I ended up just papering all these really amazing transactions from all over Europe. And I was essentially a legal process and sorcerer. So I would do all of the paperwork for different mergers and acquisitions, and you know, large purchases of television, Moto G, do you dare TV? Yeah, directly from TV. And it was great work. And I loved it. So I kind of built that up as a solo practice. And then, actually some the way we decided it was kind of unnecessary. And then at some point, we decided, you know, David was moving away from his general counsel position, I was ready to do something else. And we realized at that point that, you know, there had to be a different way to practice. So that’s that. And that kind of brings us right back to, to where we started with.

Marlene Gebauer 13:09
Is that sort of that was the impetus for Gimbal, then yeah, exactly

David Skinner 13:12
It was. That sense that I was moving away from my general counsel practice, Karen was moving away from her solo, international corporate finance advisory practice, because we both felt that there needs to be a different way to practice law. And we thought that we could be advocates for and instrumental in bringing in a new approach, which is really a sort of a focus on overall organizational and operational efficiency with a focus on value. giving priority to value over what otherwise in a bill by the hour frame is often filled with inefficiency and waste. And we spend our time today working with high performing teams, helping them go even higher, because there is it no matter how efficient we think we are, there’s always a better way of doing things. And our full focus is really on that sort of incremental improvement. A little bit of I’m done with the deal. What did I do? How did I do it? What could I do better or differently, that would make it easier for me with higher value for the client. And and if that’s clear, let’s follow that path and make little changes every day, every week, every month, and see that our practice grows in a way that does afford us the time to be both successful and have the time to enjoy that success. Which is sort of illusory for many people. Yeah.

Marlene Gebauer 14:33
So you guys have worked together for a long time. Like this isn’t a new thing for you. It’s like you’ve worked together for years and in different related but different professions. So what’s been the best thing about being in the same profession for for both of you and Karen, I’ll start with you. Yeah.

Karen Dunn Skinner 14:54
So one of the things that we saw really clearly when we were working in Hungary and Italy Hungary we were working, we were working really crazy hours, we had fabulous work and a great team. But we were sometimes in the office 36 hours at a time. And

David Skinner 15:07
Our worst was actually 52

Karen Dunn Skinner 15:09
Yeah, and, you know, sleeping and eating, we had caught some sleeping bags. And, and, and then even later when, when we were back in London and I was doing my PhD, you can tell your story and, and, you know, David was at at Freshfields or at Stikeman, he was never home even though we have kid he was never home till like 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

David Skinner 15:27
In fact, we used to, we used to eat dinner, almost every day of the week, are certainly weekdays weeknights at 10pm. And I know that because Trevor McDonald came onto the channel for independent news. And we’d eat dinner in front of the TV, watching the news.

Karen Dunn Skinner 15:45
And and so one of the things that we saw with doing that is we saw what happened to a lot of other people’s relationships. And I think one of the best things for us, I mean, apart from the fact that working together gave us the opportunity to live in Europe and all that. It’s much easier to accept when your partner says I can’t come home, I’ve got to get this work done for a client night after night after night. It’s just easier if you understand that, that that’s really what’s happening. And you know, the pressures and you understand how it works and the pressure to make partner or the pressure to deliver for clients. And I think it was harder for our friends, where only one person was doing that kind of work, and the other person was doing something else. But there was disappointment.

David Skinner 16:25
And there were suspicions, right, it’s way too easy to kind of if you’re not super comfortable in your relationship, there’s always that question. Wait, is she really at the office? And that was it when we she knew Karen knew exactly where I was and exactly what I was doing, because we live the experience.

Karen Dunn Skinner 16:43
Yeah, so I think that’s that’s really, I think that under mutual understanding of, of what it’s like to practice is one of the best things,

David Skinner 16:52
empathy and support. Yeah,

Marlene Gebauer 16:54
I think that’s key, the empathy and support. Yeah,

Karen Dunn Skinner 16:57
the empathy support. Plus, it did really give us the opportunity to do a lot of things together.

David Skinner 17:01
You don’t even today, I mean, because because, as you said, Marlene, it’s been a long time that we’ve worked together. But since founding Gimbal, what, 12 years ago, 12 years ago, we’ve done a tremendous amount of travel, particularly pre pandemic, yeah, 95 98% of our clients were in the US. And we were constantly traveling, because there were large consulting engagement. And we would travel down for meetings, and we’d be there for 234 days. And then we back because we have a family. So we would have to come home and spend time with our family on weekends. And that was very important to us. But we got to travel all over the place. And I, again, funny stories, but I think it’s challenging traveling on your own. When you’re away from your family, you don’t have the support, you don’t have someone to talk to him back in the day, you would have spoken by phone, or it would have cost you hundreds and hundreds of dollars for telephone call long distance. Now it’s easy on FaceTime, like, but still, I think traveling alone can be very lonely. And when we traveled together, we sit in restaurants with other business people. And we look around and we see how many people are sitting alone. Now the flip side is because we’re together 24 hours a day, we go to a restaurant for dinner, we sit down and we look at the menu, we ordered dinner, and then immediately both our business. And we spend all our time our business,

Karen Dunn Skinner 18:18
but we usually do we spend all

David Skinner 18:20
of our time staring at our phones. And we’re confident that everybody around us, including the waiters think we are the worst boring couple ever, that we’re pathetic. And it’s only when we explain to the waiter at oat wash. So everybody around can kind of hear, we’re married, we work together. And we’ve been up working together since five o’clock in the morning. And this is our first chance to catch up with some private time. So that’s why we sit opposite each other at dinner when we’re away. We don’t actually actually talk, but we go up for walks in the evening, we get to explore all sorts of places.

Karen Dunn Skinner 18:54
We don’t do it alone.

David Skinner 18:55

Greg Lambert 18:57
Well, I mean, other than embedding and air tag on each other so that you know exactly where you are. It has there been any other like, challenges that you run into working in the same profession, and especially working in the same business?

Karen Dunn Skinner 19:16
Well, there are always challenges when you work with your spouse, especially when we were doing a lot of traveling COVID was a blessing in a way because we were I mean, that sounds awful to say I don’t know what you mean that way, but it was it was there was silver lining, which is that we really develop the remote friends of every project everything that we do, because when we were traveling, we have two children, they’re 10 years apart. And so we have little one still at home when we were doing a lot of that traveling, and that made it hard. And so when you’re both in the same profession, you don’t have that person. You don’t have anybody to be the backup at home when you’re both really busy, or when you’re both really stressed and that’s another part of it. If things are if you’re working really hard on something or if you’re if you’re you know in the juice and you just got a ton of stuff to do more things are not going smoothly. When you’re both in it together, you don’t have any sort of downtime. And you don’t have that downtime at home. Because you’re always thinking about it in your partners. They’re like you mentioned Greg at dinner, are you talking business, it’s really hard to turn off. Right? It’s, it’s, we make a conscious effort to do things with our kids, and to spend time on things that we love and our own hobbies and things. But it’s hard to turn off when you’re with your partner and your business partner and thinking about work.

Greg Lambert 20:31
Have there been things that you learned during the pandemic, or at least during the lockdown that you’ve been able to continue? As travel restrictions have

David Skinner 20:41
One Hundred Percent. We pivoted our business massively, we used to be, again, 95%, in person, everything we did, whether we were teaching a course, or it didn’t matter, we were in person. And the pandemic taught us and everybody else that you don’t have to be in person, you can still be if you’re creative, you can still be very effective. And we took all of our courses that we taught live in person, and we recorded them. Yeah, so we have a compendium of different courses that are available online, asynchronously, so you can sign up and watch it when you want to. And the great thing is you can listen to us talk at double speed, we sound better like chipmunks than we do in this fashion. So we pivoted in a sense that we took all of our course content, and brought it online.

Karen Dunn Skinner 21:33
We also what we also did is really developed the coaching part of our business, so that it allowed us to do a lot more one on one, we now have a group coaching program called practice accelerator, where we have two different cohorts, a Tuesday group and a Thursday group. And so we built out, and then we also have one to one coaching. And again, we’ve built that out. And because we’ve been able to do what we do remotely using some good technology, so we use Zoom, we use Mira, we can do all kinds of process mapping, and process improvement in streamlining using our remote tools. And that’s been great, because it’s actually opened us up to a market that we really enjoy working in, which is the smaller firms. We’ve done a lot with like amla, 100, firms in the Seven Sisters in Canada, and, and, and that’s great. But working with the smaller firms and the solos, it has been a real eye opener there, they feel the pain more immediately, it’s much easier to make changes, because you’re only having to change the minds of a couple of people. It’s much easier, as I like to say to turn the canoe than it is to turn the Titanic. So it’s, it’s, it’s been great. And I think if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, we probably wouldn’t have built out that part of our practice.

David Skinner 22:47
Well, you say seal the pain, they feel the pain more immediately, but they also feel the benefit more immediately. And that’s partly because turning a canoe is faster than turning the Titanic. It’s hugely rewarding. We build up this great relationship we get deep into the business of our of our clients. And someone more than one person refers to us as the regular therapy session, because it’s not just talking about the business of law, it’s talking about what motivates them in life, where are they trying to get to? Right? What’s the destination? What journey are they on, when they understand where their life where they want their life to be in, say, three to five years, we’re not huge advocates and saying 10 to 15 years because in 2024, the world changes, autonomy changes, circumstances change faster than ever before. So we pull back from a strategic perspective and just say, Listen, Greg, Marlene, where do you want to be in three to five years time, when you understand where you want to be personally in your relationship with your kids, your family, your community? Then you can start to say, well, then what does what do I have to accomplish my business to enable me to achieve the goals I have in my personal life? And we really enjoy that dialogue with our clients. So

Marlene Gebauer 24:03
I mean, you guys have similar last name. So maybe people figure this out. And you do work in the in the, in the same in the same company. But do you have situations where, you know, you’re meeting people for the first time and you know, maybe they don’t make the connection? You know, what kind of what kind of reaction do you get when when you tell others you know, you work in the same company with Karen

Karen Dunn Skinner 24:24
really funny they a lot of people don’t and then there’ll be kind of halfway through a workshop with us or they’ll be you know, we’ll be like on day two of a week long process and bourbon engagement, happy like, wait a minute, like, married to each other?

Marlene Gebauer 24:41
to each other.

Karen Dunn Skinner 24:43
And, and it’s funny, a lot of people call us the Gimbals. Once we find that out, or they or they do realize that we’re we’re a couple and then they’re like, yeah, we’ll bring in the Gimbals that we’re gonna get the Gimbals to help us

Marlene Gebauer 24:54
not become your company and your last name. So

Karen Dunn Skinner 24:58
it’s funny and it’s It’s entertaining. But you know, it’s fine. We, we, we are happy with the decisions that we’ve made about building the business and about working together. And it’s given us a lot of freedom to, you know, we work like crazy, because, you know, when you’re entrepreneurs, you work hard, but it’s given us a lot of freedom to and I wouldn’t change it, it’s, you know, it’s not always easy to, to work with your spouse, because like they would mentioned, you work together all the time. And it’s hard to turn off. And it’s hard to, to, you know, not talk about work when you’re sitting there with your kids. And it’s hard to, to kind of get time away. But on the other hand, it’s given us a lot of freedom, we really are able to resolve a lot of issues, because we’ve had 34 years of resolving issues and, you know, getting over disagreements and so nothing really sticks. I think it’s alleviated a lot of some of the politics that I’ve experienced in other offices that I just don’t want to deal with and don’t have to deal with because they just don’t have to, because I’m with my partner.

David Skinner 26:07
And we know each other incredibly well. Obviously, we’ve been together for 3334, almost 35 years. A some people find it off putting, because we’ll be up, walking around a room, talking, engaging, teaching, and will interrupt each other. He’s other we’re interrupting each other, it’s that we’re completing each other’s thoughts, because we’ve done it so often. And we know what each other things, often we both open our mouths, and we say the exact same thing completely unprompted. It’s kind of goofy. It’s a little it can be off, putting the interruptions can can seem off putting, but it’s just two people who know each other better than anybody else. And we seamlessly engage. It’s kind of fun. It’s actually really fun.

Greg Lambert 26:52
I imagine this probably difficult, David, because I could see when you interrupt Karen, that somebody could think, Oh, somebody’s mansplaining this

David Skinner 27:00
Oh my gosh, Greg. We’ve had that a number of times I kid you not. We’ve had that a number of times. We’ve actually had comments in a presentation, whether it was a a webinar, or it was a course, sometimes we have tightly scripted, what we’re going to say, we’ve got great slides, but we’ve tightly scripted what we want to say, because we’ve got a mission. We’re trying to accomplish something we’ve got a tight timetable. So we will script it out, including interruptions. But

Karen Dunn Skinner 27:35
that not really interruptions. No, I’m interrupting him again. That way. They’re their breaks, because you know, it can get boring when you’re listening to one person learn blah, blah, blah. So we break the text up,

Marlene Gebauer 27:46
you take a pause, have a little chat. Go back. Yeah, yeah.

Karen Dunn Skinner 27:50
But people interpreted that breaking up of the text and switching speakers to interruptions. And using learning lesson for us

David Skinner 27:57
what is into that point, it’s not even necessarily taking a pause and sort of chit chatting. It’s, if we’re trying to make a point. And we’re high speed, we’ll switch speakers. And I’ll start a sentence. And then in the script, there’s an ellipse dot, dot dot, and Karen knows that search you to jump right in and leave no gap. So it sounds like she’s interrupting me. And we’ve been called out on it. People say we don’t like, you know, David sounds like he’s interrupting Karen. What they don’t realize is it’s tightly scripted. Yeah. And it’s the goal is to keep it dynamic, and interactive, and change it up constantly. Because there’s nothing worse than listening to one talking head at the funnel.

Marlene Gebauer 28:38
Now we know now everybody knows, okay. Well, we

Karen Dunn Skinner 28:41
do it differently now, though, because right? What What would we do we get feedback. And we make incremental improvements, because we’re process improvement people. So now we have met, we have slides where we do many more slides, where we have much shorter content. And we frequently just switch speakers when we switch slides. And that avoids that problem. So so we got to process the permanent actions.

Greg Lambert 29:05
How do you guys and I imagine this involves, again, some more sticky notes on on the wall, but you know, as things change, or your you need to, you got a new situation that you may not both come to an immediate agreement on? How do you handle a situation where you need to do something and you may not be on the same page? How do you how do you guys work that out?

Karen Dunn Skinner 29:32
Well, we’re actually in the middle of a renovation right now. So let me tell you about not being on the same page. See that? So you know, but we have a house and that house is gonna get renovated, and we’re gonna compromise. I mean, you go ahead because you were gonna say something.

David Skinner 29:51
Well, I was yes, I was to take a slightly different direction. That is to say that we actually find the difference of opinion as a string. If we’re present into clients, whether it’s in a zoom call coaching call, and it’s people that we don’t know terribly well, we’re pretty quick out of the gate to say, You know what, this is what it’s like working with us, you may think we’re interrupting each other. And sometimes we do, sometimes you fill in each other’s words. And also note, we will not always agree. So someone who asked a question, I’ll say, I’d like to go first. Now, I’m gonna give you my thoughts, but I’m pretty confident Karen’s gonna say something very different. You can put it in the brain and scramble around and decide what you think is right. But after 34 years together, we do not agree on everything. And that’s actually a strength. And people are like, Okay, go with it. So it happens. We don’t agree. I’ll say something standing up in a roomful of 40 people, I’ll say, ABC, and Karen will say, You know what? I disagree. And here’s why. And that’s okay. Because then we can engage each other in a conversation with the client with the clients, and they get the benefit of two different views, sometimes three or four, because we’re lawyers, and every lawyer has multiple positions on any one given point. Yeah. And that’s okay. And people accept it. And they and they move on. I don’t think we’ve ever had like a major disagreement in a professional context, or

Karen Dunn Skinner 31:12
anything, or really anything we don’t fight.

Greg Lambert 31:16
That’s good.

Marlene Gebauer 31:17
That is good. So you guys, you’ve guys have touched a little bit about about like, how you guys do your your work life integration. I’m wondering if you have like best practices in that regard, that that you guys actually do to kind of keep that, that integration balanced?

Karen Dunn Skinner 31:40
So yeah, we do we have some routines that are a combination of sort of work and life. The first is that we have a morning meeting every single morning. And in that morning meeting, we do a couple of things. We talk about what’s coming up for the day. And that includes what’s coming up for the day, in our personal life, do we have to shop, whatever we need to do, you know, whatever. And it also includes, you know, what’s on the calendar, what do we have to prep for all of that. But we actually do that with really, really nice cappuccinos that we make in our with our lovely machine, and we do it in our hot tub. So we have our daily meeting every day in the hot tub. So that’s, it’s kind of it’s very relaxing. It’s very personal to just the two of us. And we talk a little bit about work. And we talk a little bit about life. So that’s one way that we do it. It’s an important ritual. Yeah. And we also do other things together and apart like I do watercolor painting. And so that’s kind of my thing. And I do my paintings, and I’m very, it makes me very zen and it gets me into the flow. And David does. He works for a rescue unit here in like Claire, in the part of Montreal where we live. And he’s also a ski patroller at Trump law. So when we’re up north skiing, he’s doing his ski patrolling. And then we’ll get together and we’ll see a few runs. And so we skate and we’ve been skiing together since we started dating. And so that’s a big part of our family life. That’s a big part of what our kids do. It’s a big part of what we do together. And it’s totally unrelated to work. So, you know, it’s just a really nice outside activity that we do.

Marlene Gebauer 33:14
Yeah, I have. I’ve gotten to travel a lot. And I have to say it’s, it’s I’ve loved it. We did a family trip there. And it was just great.

Karen Dunn Skinner 33:22
I’m glad you liked everybody out there. Let us know. Yeah, I will do that. David in his red red jacket. You’re welcome to

David Skinner 33:28
see him at Red Jacket. Just not in an official capacity. I

Greg Lambert 33:30
was gonna say no, I

Marlene Gebauer 33:31
don’t want that. No sled dogs No, no need to protect

David Skinner 33:38
them. For some people. It’s the base the highlight of their day. Like thank god, you’re here after and they have fun with little kids. I said, look on the way down the hill, I really want you to put both arms out and go. This is the best one you’re gonna have other than skiing you better than than injuring yourself. But yeah, John’s right. It’s it’s a question of I think having some external passions. Karen’s one of her passions is is painting. And mine is volunteering, working with my community as a first responder either on the ski hill or working in a search and rescue capacity in both in our municipality, but also in the wilderness. That’s our away time from each other.

Greg Lambert 34:17
Well, back to back to Gimbal and LegalTech. With what some exciting things that you guys are working on right now.

Karen Dunn Skinner 34:24
Oh, well.

David Skinner 34:25
Karen is doing a lot with AI

Karen Dunn Skinner 34:27
Yeah, I am. I’m really getting into using AI I’m really getting into learning about how to prompt different systems, how to generate the content that you want through through feeling refining how you prompt it and how you interact with AI. So I’m in looking at it right now from a content generation perspective. And also reading as much as I can on other ways that particularly small firms can use it. I’m really excited. I’m going to be starting while David and I together are going to be starting a reg Killer column. I don’t know if you know Colin, the Sean’s Greg? Oh, yeah, no, yeah. Collins launching a slaw on, which is a Canadian legal blogging site, launching an AI page or a certain subset of slaw. And he’s asked a number of people thought leaders in the industry to contribute. So we’re going to be contributing from the perspective of small firms and tools and how they can they can use AI tools to really do what we want them to do, which is be successful without having to work so hard, and streamline their processes. So I’m, I’m very excited to be learning more and more about that, and starting to write about that, although I’d say our first article that we’re putting out, is going to be about FOMO, and avoiding FOMO. And all the things that small firms and solos really need to get in place. First, before they get sucked into the rabbit hole of all the cool things they could do with AI. So they need to get some streamlined processes in place they need to get, you know, they need to upskill their, their their existing staff, they need to get, you know, do a really decent audit of what they’ve already got to figure out what they need. And, and, you know, they need to get their financial house in order, there’s just a few things you need to do before you really get sucked into all the amazing things that you’re going to be able to do with AI you can’t people get, they get, you know, shiny butterflies, and they

David Skinner 36:22
want to I want to pick up on that. Because I think that I think the syndrome is that people don’t make proper use of the tools that they already have. And they will go to these, you know, ABA tech show, or Clio con or whatever it may be. And they’re always some set. Fabulous. I mean, there’s some great stuff for sure. But they sort of go Oh, Wouldn’t it be neat if we could and someone turns around and goes, you know, you can do that in word right now. Like, wait, what? So it’s a question. And particularly when you’re solo or small, firm, and your margins are tight, margins are tight, and you’ve got a limited budget, and you’ve got limited hours in the day to figure stuff out new software, for example, really, you’re gonna get a better bang for your buck, if you just take a step back and go, Okay, we’ve got this suite of tools that we already pay a lot of money for. Yep. What are we not using to its full potential, I mean, we know firms that spent literally millions of dollars on licenses and maintenance contracts. And there may be using those the existing software platforms, they have to 1520 25%, maybe more, I was like,

Karen Dunn Skinner 37:31
exactly, it’s like yourself, there’s just there gonna be a few things in that first article about where to start. And then after that, we’re gonna be looking at how to use different tools for different time and effort saving tasks in particularly for small firms. And so I’m, I’m really excited about that. And then the other thing that I I geek out about all the time, is, there’s a particular platform that we recommend to everybody for flat fee pricing, and it’s called Old fee. And we love the folks that don’t fee and we’re really looking forward to working with them more. And and using that fee as a way to build out flat fee engagements for clients of ours and clients of their so, so we’re very excited about the opportunities there with their software. And I’m sure there are others as well. But they happen to be the one we we know the best. And you know, for small firms, they can make so much more money if they get flat fees. Right. And there’s just a lot of obstacles around that. So we’re going to be, you know, using technology to help them price more effectively. And I think that’s going to have huge value.

David Skinner 38:40
The soft side of all of that are the mindset shifts. Yeah, right. So there’s, there’s, there’s tech hardware, there’s the tech software. And then there’s the soft, soft stuff, which is just mindset shifts, change management, helping people understand that there is a better way that just because you’ve always done it this way is a really bad foundation for how you should do it going forward. And so we try to combine these mindset shifts of we could do that if rather than we can’t do that, because avoiding however, the five worst words you can have in any process improvement engagement, which hopefully you’ve tightly scoped, which is a wouldn’t it be wonderful if he is not one of the words? Wouldn’t it be wonderful with five words? And the answer is, yeah, that would be wonderful. But it’s out of scope. Let’s stay focused, and figure out how to use the tools we have, for example, before we go off and scope, a new piece of software that we’ve learned about and which certainly would do wonderful things for us. But we don’t really need it right now. We’ve got to get our house in order, as Karen says first, and

Karen Dunn Skinner 39:41
and then really, it’s like, there’s so much you can do with technology. And every day there’s something new that comes across our desk or there’s a vendor that reaches out to us that has a solution that looks amazing. And and it’s just figuring out the right fit for those with our clients with other small firms. You know, it’s got to be software that you’re going to use. It’s got to be software It’s fit for the purpose you want to put it to. And it’s got to take your existing process and make it better. Because often people will just buy technology and they won’t necessarily have thought about the underlying process and the technology doesn’t solve the problem. So you know, we’d like to get their house in order. As David said, we’d like to get those processes in place, and then find the right technology that really makes a difference for them.

Marlene Gebauer 40:22
So we have reached the point in the podcast where we normally answer ask our crystal ball question, but we’re calling this the the Valentine question. And so what advice would each of you give to another couple who are considering working in the same field or in the same business?

David Skinner 40:45
You want to go first, you want me to go first?

Greg Lambert 40:48
This is one of those where they’re not gonna agree. Right?

Karen Dunn Skinner 40:51
Okay, I guess that’s it. Like that’s, that’s the key piece of advice is you don’t have to agree. And just because you don’t agree, doesn’t mean you can’t do something really fantastic together. And you’re never going to be, nobody’s ever going to be perfectly aligned. And you just have to kind of go with it. I mean, if you want to start and work together in business, you just have to be really willing to, to go with the flow. When it’s your partner, I do think there, there are some complications. But then there are some things that are easier if you have good, you know, if you have really good conflict resolution strategies in your relationship, if your relationship generally has low levels of conflict, and you are really good at resolving problems, when they arise with your partner, you’ll be fine in the business, if you’re in a position where or in a relationship where you do conflict a lot about things where you’re not so great at resolving those conflicts where you hold grudges, which I know is the case for some people, obviously, if they’re thinking of starting a business together, maybe that’s not the case. But for a lot of couples, the you know, people hold grudges, and if that’s the way it is, you’re you’re not going to be successful. But if you are, if you have a strong relationship, where you have those conflict resolution skills, where you’re okay, with a certain level of disagreement and just going with it, it’ll be fine.

David Skinner 42:09
I would say that life is short. If you love your partner, and they’re your closest friend, then why not find ways to spend more time together. And we have done some amazing things, we’ve been to some amazing places. And we’ve had a tremendous amount of freedom, in terms of managing our schedule, and being able to be present in real time, with our kids, with our families, with our friends, with our community. And I think that that sort of that notion of Keeping Up with the Joneses, and making sure you’ve got the best of the best, and, you know, you’re Forget it, life is short,

Karen Dunn Skinner 42:44
we have a family van

David Skinner 42:47
fun, and enjoy each other’s company. And I would say if you’re thinking about it, think about it some more, and then jump in with both feet. It is not easy. It is full of challenges. You’ll never make as much money as well, I shouldn’t say Never you mind. But a lot of people will will look at the Joneses and go oh my gosh, If only I hadn’t become an entrepreneur, the question remains the same whether it’s with your partner, your life partner, or, or it’s either on your own being an entrepreneur can be very, very scary. And if you’re in it with your partner, then you have less of a safety net. Today’s reality is that most people, most couples, both people work. So it’s a bit of a safety net, one crimper one person who often followed their passion while the other one holds down the fort. In our case, we threw the fort out. And we both went towards our passion, which is helping people realize their full potential. And, you know, it hasn’t been easy all the time. But we’re still together. We still love each other.

Karen Dunn Skinner 43:54
And still, we all have regularly during conference call. We are

David Skinner 43:57
each other’s best friend. And I think, yeah, life is short. So if you’ve got someone that you are really close to, and you want to spend more time with them, then working together might be a way to achieve that. It’s not for everybody, for sure. But so far, it’s worked out well for

Greg Lambert 44:13
us. Oh, well. Karen, I’m glad you didn’t hold a grudge for David giving away that last talk. And law school. So what about Karen and David Skinner? Thank you very much for coming on the geek and review and sharing your love and legal tech story.

David Skinner 44:30
It’s been a pleasure.

Karen Dunn Skinner 44:31
Yeah it’s been fun.

Marlene Gebauer 44:33
And I will note all the cool people have a family minivan right, Greg?

Greg Lambert 44:36
Absolutely. Does your minivan have Wi Fi?

David Skinner 44:40
No does not use Wi Fi when you’ve got a fallen? Yes, true as true, right. Maybe having my Wi Fi in would not help anybody.

Karen Dunn Skinner 44:50
It would be just be one more Wi Fi to pay for.

David Skinner 44:52
Yep. Oh my goodness. Don’t get me started.

Marlene Gebauer 44:57
And thank you to all of our listeners. 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 @gebauerm and on Threads at @mgebauer66.

Greg Lambert 45:15
And I can be reached on LinkedIn and on x at @glambert. And on threads at @glambertpod. David and Karen, if someone wants to learn more about you, or about Gimbal, where would they? Where would they go look?

Karen Dunn Skinner 45:30
Oh, well, you can find out all about Gimbal at And you can find me on LinkedIn, Karen Dunn Skinner, and I used to be on X but I’m not there anymore. And but you can find me on threads from time to time and on Instagram. And again, it’s just I think it’s just Karen Skinner. And you’ll see all my paintings there too.

David Skinner 45:49
You can get a hold of me on LinkedIn, David Skinner, maybe David F on Instagram, also David F. Skinner. I’m not on Facebook never have been never will be. And I gave up X when it became x. So that’s how to get ahold of us. And the rest is there.

Greg Lambert 46:09

Marlene Gebauer 46:10
Awesome. The love and legal tech music that you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca and Eve Searles. Thank you very much Jerry and Eve.

Greg Lambert 46:17
Yeah, thanks, Jerry and even Thanks, everyone.

David Skinner 46:21
Thank you.

Karen Dunn Skinner 46:21
Thank you.