Photo of Greg Lambert

Librarian-Lawyer-Knowledge Management-Competitive Analysis-Computer Programmer.... I've taken the Renaissance Man approach to working in the legal industry and have found it very rewarding. My Modus Operandi is to look at unrelated items and create a process that can tie those items together. The overall goal is to make the resulting information better than the individual parts that make it up.

Five years ago, Dr. Heidi Gardner, Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School and co-founder, Gardner & Co, wrote the book, “Smart Collaboration” where she laid out the “why” behind smart collaboration efforts. In her upcoming sequel, “Smarter Collaboration: A New Approach to Breaking Down Barriers and Transforming Work,” Dr. Gardner explains the “who” and the “how” behind collaboration. The issues that law firms face today are incredibly complex and multifaceted. And in an industry famous for “going it alone,” that approach exposes firms to much greater risk than those who find ways of implementing “smarter collaboration” techniques. 
Smarter Collaboration helps increase revenues, profits, and efficiencies while reducing risks and improving client relationships and positive outcomes. While the idea of collaboration may sound like a “soft topic” for law firm leaders, Dr. Gardner points out that there is empirical data behind this and if firms are not engaging in smarter collaboration when doing the “real work” then they are either doing something that is pretty low value, or that falls into the realm of commodity work.  
In addition to data driven analysis, Smarter Collaboration also includes a number of examples of how companies and law firms thrive through the use of Smarter Collaboration. Plus, there is a test on determining behavioral tendencies when it comes to collaboration. This psychometric tool helps identify seven different dimensions which can lead to great collaboration within the organization, or may be barriers to collaboration. And, as strange as it may sound to those of us in the legal industry, law firms are not unique when it comes to collaborative behaviors. In fact, Dr. Gardner says law firms are more different from each other than they are from other professional services industries or large corporations.
Listen in for more details on the upcoming book, Smarter Collaboration.

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AALL Crystal Ball Question
This week we have John Beatty from the University of Buffalo Law School answer our crystal ball question where he points out that the pipeline of traditional law librarians for law schools may be running dry.
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Continue Reading Increased Revenue, Profits, and Efficiencies through “Smarter Collaboration” – Dr. Heidi Gardner (TGIR Ep. 169)

This week, we talk about the experiences that law students and recent law grads have during their internships, summer associate positions, and their judicial clerkships. While most of us work very hard to make sure that these (traditionally young) associates and clerks enjoy and learn from their experiences, today’s guests understands firsthand that not all of these experiences are positive. Aliza Shatzman, the co-founder of the Legal Accountability Project, talks with us about her judicial clerkship, which essentially derailed her legal career before it even gets started.
While Shatzman’s dream of becoming a Homicide Prosecutor was taken from her, she took this negative experience and used it as motivation to start the Legal Accountability Project with her WashU classmate, Matt Goodman. The Project’s purpose is to “ensure that as many law clerks as possible have positive clerkship experiences, while extending support and resources to those who do not.”
The Legal Accountability Project is partnering with multiple law schools to create a post-clerkship survey that allows them to share their experiences (both positive and negative) through a database which will be shared with future clerks so they are better informed on what to expect from the clerkships. The idea is to use the data collected to quantify any issues and to craft effective solutions.

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AALL Crystal Ball Question: Emily Janoski-Haehlen
Our Crystal Ball answer this week comes from the Dean of Akron Law School, Emily Janoski-Haehlen. Dean Janoski-Haehlen stresses the need for more legal skills training to better prepare students for legal practice. As a tie-in for the main interview, she also covers what questions her school asks returning summer associates and clerks and how they use those to help identify what is working and what needs improving.
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Continue Reading Aliza Shatzman – Turning a Horrible Judicial Clerkship Experience into the Legal Accountability Project (TGIR Ep. 168)

HyperDraft’s Tony Thai knew he could produce a better method of practicing law and producing legal documents. He viewed processes more like an engineer than a lawyer and understood that there were more efficient ways to do the work, not for the sake of efficiency, but because like any good engineer, he was lazy. Or, as he describes himself, “aggressively lazy.” Not lazy in the traditional sense, but rather lazy in the way that many of us understand that the current way of working is just wasting everyone’s time, and there has to be an easier/better/faster way of doing it. The good kind of lazy.
So after months and years of waiting for the industry to find ways of creating a better process, and failing to actually do it, he jumped in and just did it himself. The idea that he’d been working on and developing to make his own corporate law work better, became his full-time gig and the launch of HyperDraft. This year his fellow BigLaw colleague, Sean Greaney joined HyperDraft as its first General Counsel.
We talk about their journey to create a commercial product. Along the way we ask if creativity, innovation, and producing viable commercial products like HyperDraft means that lawyers at firms have to split off from that firm? The answer is a mix of yes, no, and maybe. One thing that both point out is that while the idea may be viable, a young associate really doesn’t have the legal experience needed to understand the nuances involved in creating a deliverable that scales and fits the overall needs of the lawyer and the client. That’s why Tony and Sean stuck around for a few more years to learn the in’s and out’s of the processes before leaving to launch HyperDraft. It’s a lesson that many entrepreneur/lawyers may want to learn before launching their own startups.

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AALL Crystal Ball Questions:
We recorded a number of crystal ball answers at this year’s American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) annual conference in Denver. This week, Susan DeMaine from Indiana University Maurer School of Law looks at the effect that inflation is having on law schools and how she and other law school professors and administrators are needing to do to stay ahead of those effects.
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Listener Perk:
HyperDraft is providing Geek in Review podcast listeners with a complimentary month free of its document automation software.
Save 90% of the time drafting legal documents. Click here to try HyperDraft for free.
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Continue Reading HyperDraft’s Tony Thai and Sean Greaney – The Compatibility of BigLaw and Innovative Lawyers (TGIR Ep.167)

Imagine working in a toxic workplace where you’ve recently laid off a third of your employees and the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Then a few weeks later, that toxic leader pulls the rest of the leadership team into a conference room for a “all hands on deck” meeting, where he starts the meeting by stating that he loves this team and he cares about all of them. Sounds strange? Well, according to Jeff Ma and Frank Danna, co-authors of Love as a Business Strategy, they thought someone had swapped bodies with their CEO. But, it turns out that this CEO, and fellow co-author of the eventual book, found the motivation to change his behavior and transform himself, and the team, so that they led with love in how they worked with each other, and with their clients. It ultimately saved their business, and their relationships with each other.
Jeff Ma stresses that they are still on the journey into this transformation and that it doesn’t get easier, it actually gets harder. There has to be tough conversations where co-workers commit to the accountability that they have for one another. Honesty is stressed over harmony. And as Ma puts it, “it sucks sometimes to be honest.” Otherwise you end up with what Frank Danna calls “unforgiveness.” That situation where, because the issue is never addressed, it festers and causes a rift, and that unforgiveness grows and grows. So stressing honesty over harmony prevents this air of unforgiveness and leads to a better work environment.
We discuss the six-pillars defined in the book:
  • Inclusion
  • Empathy
  • Vulnerability
  • Trust
  • Empowerment
  • Forgiveness
Even in the law firm environment, Love as a Business Strategy has a place and can improve the overall performance and culture in the workplace.

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Continue Reading Leading with Love as a Business Strategy with Jeff Ma and Frank Danna (TGIR Ep. 166)

A few weeks back, we talked with Norton Rose Fulbright’s Zack Barnes on how law firms can invest in their communities through local innovation hubs like Houston, Texas’ Ion District. We wanted to dive deeper into that law firm/local innovation idea, so Zack is back with us and introduced us to Joey Sanchez, Senior Director of Ecosystems at The Ion Houston. With his weekly “Cup of Joey” innovation gatherings, Sanchez says his responsibility is to “engineer serendipity” in the innovation community.

The Ion Houston is a lesson in “fail fast.” The original idea revolved around the bid to lure Amazon’s second headquarters. And despite being the fourth largest city in the United States, Houston didn’t even make the top 20 of Amazon’s list. What that told the innovators in Houston, along with the biggest backer of the project, Rice University, was that Houston needed to reevaluate itself and make a concerted effort to organize its innovative community.

The Ion is not just a beautiful reimagination of a 1930’s era Sears building. It is a 12 block district in the center of Houston that is looking to reimagine a city that has long been viewed as having a cowboy culture rooted in the fossil fuel industries. While the rest of the world may think of Austin as the hot area for innovation, Sanchez reminds us that Houston has the biggest potential for growth with its variety of industries like the Medical Center, NASA, the Port of Houston, the influx of alternative energy companies, and its large, diverse population.

The legal industry is also taking note of what is happening in the Ion District with firms like Baker Botts, Norton Rose, Hunton Andrews Kurth, and other law firms making a presence for themselves among the startups. Entrepreneurs are looking for protections for their intellectual property, reducing risks associated with being a new company, and for guidance through the legal and regulatory landscape. Having innovation districts in large cities like Houston are a prime spot for law firms to position themselves to help innovators within their local communities.

Links Mentioned:

The Ion Houston
The Ion District
Cup of Joey
Blue Tile Project
Texas Startup Manifesto

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Music: Jerry David DeCicca

Transcript


Continue Reading Engineering Serendipity with The Houston Ion’s Joey Sanchez (TGIR Ep. 165)

It has been almost three years since the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) held its last in-person conference in Washington, DC. Since that time, both the New Orleans (2020) and Cleveland (2021) Conferences were replace with an online event. Needless to say, many members are ready, albeit still with some concerns, to meet their colleagues in person once again. From July 16th through the 19th, nearly 900 members will gather in Denver, Colorado to enjoy the educational and social gathering of law librarians. Another 60+ vendor organizations will also be at the Denver Convention Center under the gaze of the iconic Blue Bear.
We asked current AALL President, Diane Rodriguez, along with AALL Vice-President, Beth Adelman, to take time out of their busy preparation schedules to come in and talk with us about what members and vendors should expect from the conference. Those of us who attend AALL conferences understand that it is truly a technology conference where vendors go to show their enhancements to existing products or to launch new products to the tech savvy end-users of many of their products. Even Bob Ambrogi has put this as one of the top legal tech conferences in the legal industry
Rodriguez and Adelman have spent the last year preparing AALL for a post-pandemic presence in the legal industry and focused not only on returning to in-person events, but also creating a new Strategic Plan for the Association headed by Beth Adelman. In addition, the organization continued its fight for access to justice and legal information. Diane Rodriguez penned an article for the ABA Human Rights Magazine earlier this year titled “Putting the Spotlight on Civics Education: How Law Librarians Are Helping to Bridge the Access to Justice Gap.”
Of course conferences aren’t all educational programming and vendor interactions. We all are working in some baseball, concerts, books stores, and art exhibits while we are there as well. For more information visit the AALL Conference Website.

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Continue Reading Diane Rodriguez and Beth Adelman on AALL’s Preparation for an In-Person Denver Conference (TGIR #164)

[Ed. Note: This week marks The Geek in Review’s 4th Anniversary. We thank you all for listening, subscribing, and telling your colleagues about what you hear. We’d love to hear more from you on what your favorite episodes are or what topics you’d like us to cover. Tweet us at @gebauerm and @glambert with your thoughts. Thank You Listeners!! – GL/MG]

We all know the saying “High Risk, High Reward.” But when it comes to data security, Peter Baumann, CEO and co founder of ActiveNav, we derive the value of the data because we just can’t get through the risk. There are three things always facing businesses whenever there is data involved, and that is the protection of the business’s reputation, the costs involved in non-compliance, and then the exponential growth of data within the organization. We are so focused on reacting to these three variables, that we simply cannot do anything on the value of the data itself.

Peter talks with us about the number of existing patchwork of regulations around the world, and how it makes it too difficult for business and organizations to comply. And while most experts suggested that regulations like GDPR would only govern those with businesses or people in Europe, it’s become the de facto compliance bar for privacy and data security for many businesses. He suggests that the US Government needs to step in an set a clear regulatory path around data privacy and security so that businesses know what the rules are, and the legal industry can better advise their clients on what steps they need to take to be compliant.

We dive deep in this episode and talk about what is structured and data. And how the existence of “dark data” within a business is what brings the highest risk of all. While doing data assessments on Terabytes and even Petabytes of data is extremely expensive, data breaches are even more expensive. The goal in Peter’s mind is to get to “zero dark data” so that you can stop worrying completely on the risks, and start understanding the value within your data.

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Music: Jerry David DeCicca

Transcript


Continue Reading ActiveNav’s Peter Baumann: There is So Much Value In Your Data… Once You Control the Risks (TGIR #163)

While we are still struggling with COVID outbreaks this summer, the 2022 Summer Associate ranks are faring quite differently than their 2021 counterparts according to a recent survey conducted by Law360. Kerry Benn, Director of Series Surveys and Data at Law360 breaks down the results of the survey and explains how the struggles differ significantly this year. One of the biggest shifts from 2021 to 2022 was around mentorship and the need for the summer associate to “connect” with the lawyers of the firm in face to face interactions. While many law firms still stressed the need access to mentorship, the summers had much less of a concern for that this year versus last. One stressor that did rise this year was the ability to handle the workload being placed upon the summer associates this year. 
Not surprisingly, the preferred places to work as a summer associate were Kirkland & Ellis (the new #1), Latham, Cooley, Skadden, and Sidley Austin. One thing that was surprising was the salary ranges for those summers who did not land a BigLaw job. Some firms were paying as little as $15.00 and hour. That made some law students reconsider working at a law firm, or going back to Target or Olive Garden and make more. The flexibility of law firms to allow for associates to work remotely continued and seems to be something that may have a long-term affect going forward for a number of years. However, 92% of summers said they would be willing to work in the office, so there may be some flexibility on both sides of this equation.
We also ask Kerry Benn about future surveys that Law360 is producing including the second part of the Summer Associate Survey that reviews their actual experiences, the Glass Ceiling Survey, and Diversity Reports. Benn looks into her crystal ball and projects that there will be more demand for LGBTQ+ and additional diversity surveys and how law firms are implementing alternative structures in their fee arrangements with clients.  

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 162 – Law360’s Kerry Benn on 2022 Summer Associate Preferences, Challenges, and Options

The legal operations community was barely nascent a decade ago. Now there is a booming LegalOps profession and a number of professional associations have sprouted up to help the community learn and collaborate. Legal Operators is one of those communities. We asked the founder of Legal Operators, Colin McCarthy, to come on the show and talk about why he took a small legal ops community that started with a few people doing TED-Talk style presentations over drinks, to a community of thousands. Legal Operators produces online learning programs, a list of legal operations software and services, job board, and an innovation hub in order to support the growing legal operations profession.

Recently, Legal Operators created a magazine with the planned distribution in the tens of thousands. While this may seem outside of what you would think a technology-forward operations would do, McCarthy says he believes in doing the unexpected, and providing the best platform for the distribution of knowledge and information. Even if that means going “old-school” from time to time. Check out the online version of the Legal Operators Magazine here.

In September, Legal Operators is hosting the Summit By the Sea at Half Moon Bay, California. The September 14-16, 2022 curated, in-person event is designed for 100 legal ops professionals to gather together and share in conversation, networking, and best practices exchanges. There are a few seats still available.

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Information Inspirations

If you are looking for great podcast content that includes some of our peers in the legal community, check out Steven Poor’s Pioneers and Pathfinders podcast where he’s recently brought on the likes of Ed Walters, Colin Levy, Bob Ambrogi, and more.

Speaking of Bob Ambrogi, check out his article, “Why Legal Tech Fans Should Attend AALL in July” on his LawSites blog. Bob is a long-time supporter of the law library and legal information profession and has said for years that the AALL conference is truly a legal tech conference as well as an information conference. Add to this, it is in Denver this year, and you now have multiple reason to attend.

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Voicemail: 713-487-7270
Email: geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com
Music: 
Jerry David DeCicca

Transcript


Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 161 – Colin McCarthy of Legal Operators on Building a LegalOps Community