The final assignment for one of my college theory courses was to write at least 32 bars of music for 4 voices, containing 3 key and 2 time signature changes, that demonstrated 6 of 10 special techniques that we’d been taught, all while adhering to the standard rules of 4-part harmony.  And rather than simply writing it out and turning it in, we had to perform it in front of the class.

We were given the final assignment halfway through the course to ensure that we had plenty of time to complete it.  The last week of class was entirely devoted to performing our assignments. Some people played their pieces on piano.  Some dragged string or brass quartets into class. My best friend did his as a barbershop quartet.

The performances were good – most of the class were talented musicians – but the compositions were mostly ‘exercise-like’.  I hate academic exercises. I did then and I do now. I need work to have purpose and meaning beyond simply ‘that’s the assignment’. So while most students stood up and said something like, “this is my final assignment, it was really hard, I’m not a composer, please be nice to me”, I took a very different approach. I went to the front of the class and said something like this…

Our reluctant hero, a young peasant Boy, is approaching the end of his quest. He and his travel companion, an aging Wizard who has mentored the boy throughout their journey, stand on a bluff overlooking a lush green valley.  At the opposite end of the valley is the gleaming city where the Boy’s quest will finally come to an end. The Boy, eager to complete his quest, struggles to contain his excitement, but the Wizard motions for the Boy to come sit by his side.  The Wizard sings…

Continue Reading Lessons from a Former Life #4

Capture d’écran de Musescore 1.2 utilisé sous KDE

When I first moved to NY, I wrote all my music out by hand.  I’d buy staff paper with the lines pre-drawn, and I’d fill in clefs, time signatures, key signatures, measures, notes, etc.  This worked great, except that it was extremely time consuming, labor intensive, and my music notation was almost as bad as my handwriting, so even I had trouble reading it.  Thankfully, at about the same time, affordable music notation programs were coming on the market and surprise surprise, I was an early adopter.  These programs connected a PC or Mac to a keyboard using the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and frankly, there were more than a few bugs in the system.

It was not uncommon for me to spend all day, playing music into the computer, reformatting, spacing it just right, and meticulously editing lyrics, only to have the program crash right before I took a break for dinner.  Just like working in word processors of the time, I learned to save my work often, but unlike word processors, saving work was not necessarily an indication that I could actually retrieve my work later. The midi files would often become corrupted at which point, none of my work was salvageable.

The first few tens of times this happened, I was completely dejected. All of my time and effort was wasted.  My brilliant compositions were lost forever, sacrificed to the fickle and wicked gods of MIDI.  I cursed the software, the computer, the keyboard, and myself for being such a lazy composer.  Mozart never had notation software, and he seemed to do okay.  Every time this happened I would sulk for a while, have stiff drink or two, and start all over again the next day.

Over time I began to notice a pattern emerging.  The work that took me all day to do the day before, only took half a day to complete the second time around, and in the process of recreating my earlier work, I invariably streamlined, simplified, and generally created something markedly better than I had done the day before.  This was universal.  I never once ended up with a worse piece of music having lost my original to MIDI corruption. Over time I came to relish in these opportunities.  I would rock up to dinner with friends, beaming with satisfaction and when they asked why I was so happy, I’d say “I lost all the music I wrote today to corrupt MIDI files.”  Needless to say, they thought I was nuts, but in my experience lost to corruption meant that I was going to create something even better the next day.

Continue Reading Lessons from a Former Life #3

Once upon a time

In my second year of college I started an independent study course with an associate professor to learn music composition.  I’d had years of study, and I figured I knew just about everything there was to know about the theory of music by that point.  I regularly spent hours in the practice room catacombs writing through-composed rock operas that would one day fill arenas of people all singing along.  I didn’t really need composition lessons, but I figured, what the hell, I’m good at this. I’ll get an assignment day one, turn it around in an hour and spend the rest of the week writing my own stuff.  Easy A.

On day one, I showed up and the professor asked me to play some of my music, so he could understand where I was in my development as a composer.  I played a handful of my latest hits.  These were pieces that all of my friends loved.  One was raucous and loud, with a catchy melody and wild bluesy piano riffs.  One was sweet and quiet, and guaranteed to make every girl’s mother cry.  Some were upbeat and fun, and some were boisterous and stirring.  I chose these pieces to show off my range of styles and emotions.

The professor was very complimentary.  It clearly wasn’t the kind of music he wrote or listened to, but he could appreciate my passion and recognized that I had talent.  He thought about it for a moment and said, “Okay, here’s your assignment for the week, I want you to write a melody.”

“Great, yep.  Any particular style?  Time signature?  Key?”

“Nope, I don’t care about any of that. But I want it to be a single stand-alone melody of at least 32 bars.”

“Cool, uh huh.  Got it. Can do.”

“Using only two intervals.”

I swear someone in the other room pulled a needle across a record at that very moment.

Continue Reading Lessons from a Former Life #2

via Giphy

When I was a young man, I hated practicing the piano.  Beethoven. Haydn. Schumann. Boring. And truth be told, I was never a very good pianist, but I loved playing the piano.  I would sit and play for hours, not any written music mind you, I was just exploring the keyboard, trying different combinations, listening to the various harmonies and dissonances that I could create.  My mother tells horror stories of hours of the same 4 chords played with slight variation, over and over and over again and again and again until she would scream, “Don’t you have some MUSIC to practice?”

My piano teacher knew I was never going to be a great pianist, but in the fifth grade she made a deal with me.  For every great masterwork I learned, I could create my own.  From that moment on, I always played two pieces at each recital.  One boring piece some dead white European guy (DWEG) wrote, and one brilliant original McClead composition. Continue Reading Lessons from a Former Life #1

I’ve gotten a bit of grief from friends and colleagues for starting a series of blog posts on lessons I learned from my time as a musician and composer that I now use every day in my capacity as a legal technologist, then building to the announcement that I’m starting my own consulting company, and then immediately dropping off the face of the earth again.  I will come back to that series shortly, I promise, but as you can imagine I’ve been all consumed with the new company for the last few months.

As I write this, I am sitting on a train from New York to Boston to attend the College of Law Practice Management Futures Conference, where I and Geek #1 will be inducted as fellows.  Toby and Casey are already fellows, so we’re quickly approaching Phase 2 of 3 Geeks World Domination, (ed. – First rule of 3GWD: We don’t talk about 3GWD, Ryan!) but my 4-hour train journey gives me a bit of time to reflect, regroup, and rewrite.

The interesting thing about starting a company in the midst of a series of posts about lessons from a past life, is that it makes me think a lot about how I’ll use the lessons I’m learning today in my future endeavors. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned in recent weeks that I’m planning to keep in mind as I go forward.

1) Approach new opportunities as if you know nothing. Continue Reading Lessons for a Future Life

In this episode of The Geek in Review, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert have an illuminating discussion with Christina Wojcik, the new Managing Director of Corporate for LexFusion. Christina has over 20 years of experience pioneering innovation in the legal services and technology space.

The conversation covers Christina’s diverse background and journey into legal tech, including formative experiences at companies like Pangea3, IBM, Seal Software, and Citi. She shares key lessons learned about the importance of visionary leadership, solving real client problems, and embracing a fearless, entrepreneurial spirit.

Christina provides insights into top pain points for legal departments today, especially at highly regulated organizations like major banks. She discusses the cautious approach many are taking with emergent technologies like generative AI—treating it like a “monster behind the door” to be carefully studied before fully unleashing.

Christina advocates for “failing fast” when testing innovations, allowing for rapid iteration in a safe sandbox environment. She explains her rationale for joining LexFusion and how she hopes to leverage her well-rounded expertise to drive value for legal tech providers and clients alike.

The conversation concludes with Christina’s predictions for the legal industry’s evolution in areas like AI adoption, CLM consolidation, and new service delivery models. She provides a fascinating insider perspective on the future of legal innovation.

Listen on mobile platforms:  ⁠Apple Podcasts⁠ |  ⁠Spotify⁠ | YouTube (NEW!)

Contact Us: 

Twitter: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@gebauerm⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, or ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@glambert⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠
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Voicemail: 713-487-7821
Email: geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com
Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠⁠

Transcript

Continue Reading Unleashing the Legal Monster Behind the Door – LexFusion’s Christina Wojcik (TGIR Ep. 221)

In this episode of The Geek in Review, hosts Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert interview Laura Leopard, founder and CEO of Leopard Solutions, about succession planning challenges facing law firms. Leopard explains that many firms have partners nearing retirement age but no concrete plans for transitioning clients and leadership. This lack of succession planning threatens law firms’ futures.

Laura mentions that to make matters worse, the path to equity partnership is getting longer, making it harder to retain promising senior associates and counsel. Firms have added non-equity partner roles, keeping equity partner numbers small to inflate profits per partner. Leadership lacks incentives to retire, with no retirement plans or continued compensation. All this will hamper recruiting efforts, as younger generations prioritize work-life balance.

She recommends that in order to retain mid-career attorneys, firms must rethink policies on remote work, billable hours, and flexibility. Virtual firms with better lifestyle offerings are growing competitors. But firms seem unwilling to change. Leopard argues everything should be on the table for analysis by outside consultants. Phased retirements and succession mentoring could also help transition clients and power.

Though Laura Leopard (and even Bruce MacEwan) cannot point to examples of firms that have executed succession planning well, it is possible with courageous leadership. She advises setting retirement age limits, crafting written plans, and easing older partners’ exits. A too-big-to-fail mentality persists despite serious business vulnerabilities if talent is not retained and recruited.

Looking ahead, Leopard predicts the rise of virtual firms will shake up the legal industry as they encroach on Big Law territory with alternative fee arrangements. The pandemic accelerated dissatisfaction with law firm partnership and policies. As generational divides grow, flexible virtual firms will keep gaining ground over more rigid large firms.

This engaging discussion unpacks the complex dynamics around law firm succession planning and existential threats posed by lack of preparation. As partners cling to power, can bold leaders emerge to implement creative solutions and secure these institutions’ longevity? Tune in for an insightful examination of forces reshaping the legal landscape.

Links:

Listen on mobile platforms:  ⁠Apple Podcasts⁠ |  ⁠Spotify⁠ | YouTube (NEW!)

Contact Us:

Twitter: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@gebauerm⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, or ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@glambert⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠
Threads: @glambertpod or @gebauerm66
Voicemail: 713-487-7821 Email: geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com
Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠Transcript

 

Continue Reading Laura Leopard on Law Firms’ Current Succession Planning: Step One – Do Nothing (TGIR Ep. 215)

Tony Thai and Ashley Carlisle of HyperDraft, return to The Geek in Review podcast to provide an update on the state of generative AI in the legal industry. It has been 6 months since their last appearance, when the AI Hype Cycle was on the rise. We wanted to get them back on the show to see where we are on that hype cycle at the moment.

While hype around tools like ChatGPT has started to level off, Tony and Ashley note there is still a lot of misinformation and unrealistic expectations about what this technology can currently achieve. Over the past few months, HyperDraft has received an influx of requests from law firms and legal departments for education and consulting on how to practically apply AI like large language models. Many organizations feel pressure from management to “do something” with AI, but lack a clear understanding of the concrete problems they aim to solve. This results in a solution in search of a problem situation.

Tony and Ashley provide several key lessons learned regarding limitations of generative AI. It is not a magic bullet or panacea – you still have to put in the work to standardize processes before automating them. The technology excels at research, data extraction and summarization, but struggles to create final, high-quality legal work product. If the issue being addressed is about standardizing processes or topics, then having the ability to create 50 different ways to answer the issue doesn’t create standards, it creates chaos.

Current useful applications center on legal research, brainstorming, administrative tasks – not mission-critical legal analysis. The hype around generative AI could dampen innovation in process automation using robotic process automation and expert systems. Casetext’s acquisition by Thomson Reuters illustrates the present-day limitations of large language models trained primarily on case law.

Looking to the near future, Tony and Ashley predict the AI hype cycle will continue to fizzle out as focus shifts to education and literacy around all forms of AI. More legal tech products will likely combine specialized AI tools with large language models. And law firms may finally move towards flat rate billing models in order to meet client expectations around efficiency gains from AI.

Listen on mobile platforms:  Apple Podcasts |  Spotify

Contact Us:

Twitter: ⁠⁠⁠⁠@gebauerm⁠⁠⁠⁠, or ⁠⁠⁠⁠@glambert⁠⁠⁠⁠
Voicemail: 713-487-7821
Email: geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com
Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠Transcript

Continue Reading You Still Need to Put in the Work: Hyperdraft’s Ashley Carlisle and Tony Thai on the AI Hype Cycle (TGIR Ep. 213)

Isha Marathe, a tech reporter for American Lawyer Media, joined the podcast to discuss her recent article on how deep fake technology is coming to litigation and whether the legal system is prepared. Deep fakes are hyper-realistic images, videos or audio created using artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate fake content. They are easy and inexpensive to create but difficult to detect. Marathe believes deep fakes have the potential to severely impact the integrity of evidence and the trial process if the legal system is unprepared.

E-discovery professionals are on the front lines of detecting deep fakes used as evidence, according to Marathe. However, they currently only have limited tools and methods to authenticate digital evidence and determine if it is real or AI-generated. Marathe argues judges and lawyers also need to be heavily educated on the latest developments in deep fake technology in order to counter their use in court. Regulations, laws and advanced detection technology are still lacking but urgently needed.

Marathe predicts that in the next two to five years, deep fakes will significantly start to affect litigation and pose risks to the judicial process if key players are unprepared. States will likely pass a patchwork of laws to regulate AI-generated images. Sophisticated detection software will emerge but will not be equally available in all courts, raising issues of equity and access to justice.

The two recent cases where parties claimed evidence as deep fakes highlight the issues at stake but did not dramatically alter the trial outcomes. However, as deep fake technology continues to rapidly advance, it may soon be weaponized to generate highly compelling and persuasive fake evidence that could dupe both legal professionals and jurors. Once seen, such imagery can be hard to ignore, even if proven to be false or AI-generated.

Marathe argues that addressing and adapting to the rise of deep fakes will require a multi-pronged solution: education, technology tools, regulations and policy changes. But progress on all fronts is slow while threats escalate quickly. Deep fakes pose an alarm for legal professionals and the public, dragging the legal system as a whole into an era of “post-truth.” Trust in the integrity of evidence and trial outcomes could be at stake. Overall, it was an informative if sobering discussion on the state of the legal system’s preparedness for inevitable collisions with deep fake technology.

Links

Listen on mobile platforms:  Apple Podcasts |  Spotify

Contact Us:

Twitter: ⁠⁠⁠⁠@gebauerm⁠⁠⁠⁠, or ⁠⁠⁠⁠@glambert⁠⁠⁠⁠
Voicemail: 713-487-7821
Email: geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com
Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠Transcript

Continue Reading The Rise of “Post-Truth” Litigation: ALM’s Isha Marathe on How Deep Fakes Threaten the Legal System (TGIR Ep. 209)

At present, the most universal priority for law departments is “controlling outside counsel costs” per 85% of respondents to the most recent TR Legal Department Operations Index.

I understand. I also doubt the marginal utility of simply pressing harder on the traditional levers of cost control (discounts, panels, RFPs, outside counsel guidelines, AFAs). My sometimes solicited, alternative advice:

  • Package work. Identify opportunities to enter portfolio arrangements, including integrated law relationships with New Law offerings.
  • Move work. Right source, including greater use of legal marketplaces to find the right talent at the right price.
  • Re-examine costs on autopilot. Major advances in ediscovery, ADR, court reporting, staffing, etc. present substantial, immediate spend-optimization opportunities.
  • Don’t stop investing in compliance by design. Embedding legal knowledge in business processes is the only viable, long-term approach to meeting the evolving legal needs of business in an increasingly complex operating environment.

If you want to discuss, call me, maybe.

Herein, however, I am not focused on being better. Rather, we will continue our exploration of avoiding worse. The unpalatable message remains that even when something must be done, doing nothing is superior to doing the wrong thing. Running in the wrong direction cannot be course corrected solely by redoubling our efforts.

Continue Reading Trust Fall: the limits of discounts, panels, billing guidelines, etc.