Photo of Marlene Gebauer

We all know that the hybrid workplace is coming to our law firms. That is, where some lawyers are working every day from their office spaces, while others continue to work remotely. Many believe that this will be the permanent workplace of the future, and there is a Pollyannish attitude from some in the industry who think that the past seven months prove that we can do as much remotely, as we can from the office. Richard Hsu of the recruiting firm Lindsey, Major, and Africa is not one of them.

While Hsu understands that there is a paradigm shift in how legal services are provided to clients and that having a swanky office in a high-rent downtown district is not required for top-notch services, young attorneys need structure in their training and experiences. That upbringing of the next generation of talent cannot take place effectively in a remote environment. The current situation, where nearly all of the attorneys are working remotely is giving us a false sense of security that we can continue this success in a hybrid model. Hsu thinks that it will actually be the hybrid model that will accelerate the desire to get all of the lawyers, by and large, back to the office full time.

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Information Inspirations

Jerry David DeCicca, who provides the fantastic music you hear on this podcast, has a new album coming out on October 16th. Go check out The Accidental Optimist and His Domestic Adventures on Spotify or Bandcamp.

The legal tech industry is not lacking for tools, but it has lacked for a good method of finding the right tool for the right task. Nikki Shaver and Chris Ford talked with Bob Ambrogi about how they created a resource to help solve that problem. The LegalTech Hub is a searchable database of legal technology resources which allows customers to search for the tools they need, as well as developers and vendors to put their resource information on the site for free.

Today’s guest isn’t the only one who seems to think that remote work isn’t the best method. A Wall Street Journal article mentions that many business leaders also think that even a hybrid work model isn’t sustainable. Marlene has a few thoughts on why those leaders are being too narrow in their thoughts on the work model which may be around for years.

One other “feature” of the current work model is the need to work while wearing a mask. Harvard Business Review has a number of suggestions on how to make your work environment function clearly, even when your voice is muffled.
Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 91 – Richard Hsu on Why Law Firms Will Need Lawyers to Return to the Office

A few years ago, Robert Taylor and Jeff Marple of Liberty Mutual Insurance, along with Suffolk Law School’s Gabriel Teninbaum sat down at Back Bay Harry’s and hatched a genius plan over some truffle fries and sandwiches. The idea was to leverage Suffolk’s law school technology training for students along with Liberty’s desire for the law schools to help students actually learn how to address the issue of design thinking and how it applied to real-world legal issues they were facing. And while the truffle fries were still hot, the Boston Legal Design Challenge was born. On November 13th, 2020, the 4th Annual Challenge takes place, this time in a virtual setting.
Fifty participants, making up 10 teams of five students from around the country will learn more about Design Thinking, identify an issue within the legal industry which needs addressing, and at the end of the day, pitch that idea to a blue-ribbon panel made up of Cat Moon, Bob Ambrogi, and Jason Barnwell. The winning team walks away with a few thousand dollars, and all of the participants end up with significant new skills to differentiate themselves from their fellow students. The competition is not just limited to law students, or to those people within Boston. Bob, Jeff, and Gabe are looking for diverse teams made up of different schools, disciplines, and geographical regions.
Enrollment is open now, so go to LMI.co/BLDC to sign up.

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Information Inspirations
Sometimes efficiency comes from small improvements in processes. One basic efficiency for word processing is to keep your hands on the keyboard, and away from the mouse. Deborah Savadra at Legal Office Guru has a short 7 1/2 minute video showing how you can use shortcuts and macros to reduce the use of your mouse, and just be a better user of MS Word.
We’re all concerned about data privacy whether it is the type of browser, search engine, or messaging app we use. 


Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 89 – The Boston Legal Design Challenge with Jeff Marple, Robert Taylor, and Gabriel Teninbaum

Gender and diversity analysis is necessary to the success of law firmsIn fact, diversity metrics are quite openly a common ask from law firm clients.   Firms may not often have this sort of information readily available, due to siloed information and custodial/privacy concerns.  We get the scoop from  Phil Flora from Leopard Solutions about their new searchable gender and ethnic diversity platform, how it works, what it reveals, who can use it, and why.  We discuss what was found in terms of the top 200 and below in terms of racial diversity and there is room for improvement.  Quite a bit.  If firms want to establish a baseline for improvement, this platform might prove a good way to start.

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Information Inspirations

Mike Whelan, the author of Lawyer Forward, is doing something crazy. He’s starting 90 episode podcast series called the 90-Day Known Expert. During this time, he plans to teach lawyers how to leverage their writing and publishing skills to become both known in the industry, as well as seen as an expert in the industry. Best of luck on your adventure Mike!!

Professor Bill Henderson lays out a two-part series that wants to turn law firms away from their Rainmaker model into a team model. It worked for Goldman Sachs, why not for BigLaw? (Part One. Part Two.)

Christina Herrmann, Chief Talent Officer at Shipman & Goodwin penned a LinkedIn article reminding us that law firms are a business and that to have a competitive advantage, the C-Suite needs to be filled with the proper talent for what’s coming post-COVID.

Need a visual representation to help you identify common cognitive biases? We have a chart of 50 for you to peruse.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.
Transcript

[0:19]

Marlene Gebauer:  Welcome to the Geek in Review. The podcast focus on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.

Greg Lambert:  And I’m Greg Lambert. So Marlene, I just love reconnecting with old friends especially during this crazy year of 2020,

Marlene Gebauer:  who doesn’t love connecting with old friends?
Continue Reading The Geek In Review Ep. 87 – Phil Flora on Leopard Solution’s New Gender and Ethnic Diversity Tool

David Kamien is the CEO of Mind Alliance and is someone who understands that in order to truly collaborate with your clients, you have to understand their needs on a granular level. That means capturing the data in a way that proactively predicts legal and regulatory risks that companies like them are likely to face, but also list the probable impact that those risks are likely to impact them specifically. While this may sound like a pipe dream to some, and a delusion to others, Kamien thinks that improving the state of data in law firms through knowledge graphs and taking concrete, and logical steps toward improving and leveraging data, will help get law firms to where they can leverage the data in ways that will truly turn them into counselors to their clients. It means creating a data strategy for the firm that creates higher levels of sophistication so that the data turns into answers, and those answers turn into the types of action that clients are willing to pay for. Law firms should not sit back and wait for this to magically happen. If you want to generate value, you are going to have to collaborate very closely with clients. And in this day and age, that involves data.

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Information Inspirations
Most of us in the information profession have touted our skills as fact finders. In this time of misinformation on the Internet, that skillset is needed more than ever and seems to be showing up more and more in the media as they look for Misinformation Experts like the University of Washington’s Information School, Jevin West. West appeared this week on one of our favorite non-legal podcasts, Make Me Smart, where he uncovered some of the reasoning behind the cult that is QAnon, and why its ability to manipulate information makes it so popular, and so hard to convince those believers in the conspiracy that it really is misinformation.
Staying in touch with clients and others isn’t simply about setting up the next Zoom meeting. Julie Saravino produced a great list of ways to have that personal interaction with others in a way that “ups your game” and makes you stand out from those who still rely upon Zoom, email, and phone calls.
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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.
Transcript


Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 86 – Using Data to Really Know Your Clients and Predict Their Needs – David Kamien

A law firm’s primary function is to enable lawyers to practice law. In fact, many of us on the operations side of the law firm business have heard the complaints of lawyers that there are too many “other tasks” that take away from their practice of law. On today’s episode, we talk with the CEO of Williams Lea, Clare Hart, about the challenges she and her company have faced during the pandemic, and what she sees happening as we push through the current situation, and what will happen as we eventually find our way to the other side. Whether it is the issues of working in the office or at home, or it is outsourcing, virtualization, or elimination of tasks, the world is going to look far different post-COVID than it did pre-COVID.

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Information Inspirations

We know that you may be overloaded with webinars and online training, but trust us when we say that both Legal Value Network and Legal Operators are pushing out some great content. Marlene mentioned that in one of the webinars the presenter mentioned that “what go you here today, won’t get you there tomorrow. You have to improve with fewer resources.” So true.

Crisis brings out creativity. That is evident with the way that protesters across the country, and probably the world, are using CARRD to set up single-page websites that host relevant information for those attending the protests or looking to help or learn more. CARRD and other one-page sites combine easily accessible information with the elegance of web design, especially for the mobile devices that protesters rely upon while out in the streets.

Brick and mortar stores aren’t the only types of businesses that needed to find ways to pivot in 2020. Relation-based businesses such as Mary Kay also needed to change their business strategy, sales, and relationship models. Are there parallels between these types of relationship-based businesses and law firms? Most definitely.

If you’re looking for a fun couple of podcast episodes that combine libraries, true-crime drama, and legal podcasts, then Laurence Colletti over at Legal Talk Today has what you need. In a two-part interview with Travis McDade, they tell the story of how the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library ended up missing $8 million worth of artifacts and didn’t even realize it for years.
Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 85 – Williams Lea CEO, Clare Hart on Letting Lawyers Do What They Do Best… Practice Law

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, we have seen many firms expand and publicize their diversity efforts in the community. Many of these efforts are part of pro bono programs supported by individual firms. Brenna DeVaney, Director of Pro Bono Programs and Pro Bono Counsel at Skadden and the Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance (LFAA) have a different approach–leverage the legal and technical expertise of law firms and legal vendors as a whole while working with legal services organizations and race equity advocates to battle systemic racism long term. Brenna provides us with some insights into the mission of the LFAA and its plans for the future. [PDF of LFAA Mission]

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Information Inspirations
Bon Appétit? Apparently not if you have dark skin. Greg discusses how Bon Appetite’s popular Test Kitchen got derailed due to racist policies. He also ponders how individual freedom can hamper good solutions–in this case the use of COVID-19 tracing apps.
For those of you who can’t take being on another online call, Marlene has a hack for you. You can use pre-recordings. And while the end result is great, the effort might not be worth it. But if you do choose to pre-record yourself nodding and sipping coffee, spend your free time listening to Marlene’s summary of the recent copyright litigation of Thomson Reuters v. ROSS Intelligence.
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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 83 – The Law Firm Antiracism Alliance – Brenna DeVaney

How successful have firms been in handling the stress of adjusting to the needs of the market, knowing how to present that message to clients, and understanding how a sustained firm culture plays a critical role in their ability to cope? Barbara Malin, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Jackson Walker, LLP, and Jennifer Johnson, CEO of Calibrate Legal discuss the critical role marketing, business development, and firm culture play in times of crisis. Our guests tackle some very tough questions about whether firms know and embody their culture and if cultural bias hampers their ability to succeed. They also highlight how firms have adjusted their business development plans to support clients in light of COVID and anti-racism movements.

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Information Inspirations

Are you feeling inspired this August? We certainly are. From identifying songbirds via neural networks to Deloitte Legal’s AI pro bono project in the UK to pornography suits in Martha’s Vineyard, we share our thoughts on the news of the week.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.


Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 82 – Law Firm Culture and Marketing, and How to Market Law Firm Culture – Barbara Malin and Jennifer Johnson

We’ve been off for a month and we come out swinging for this #Barpacolypse #Diplomaprivilege episode. Each July, thousands of law students and attorneys are required to sit for and pass the bar exam in their states if they wish to practice. The fairness, bias, and necessity of the test has been called into question in the past (Note: the exam is a relatively recent method to determine attorney competency to practice), but COVID 19 may finally force states to do away with the bar examination. The public has called administration of the test into question, due to COVID 19 health concerns, and the response from state and national bar examination boards and state courts have been a hodgepodge of confusion and guarding the status quo.

Today’s guests, Professor Cat Moon from Vanderbilt University, Brian L. Frye, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law in Lexington, and recent Georgetown Law School Graduate, Stefanie Mundhenk are digging deep to expose concerns and implications surrounding the 2020 bar exam and to examine creative approaches, such as Diploma Privilege and supervised practice, that not only will protect their health but may prove to be a better gauge of attorney competency. And if you think the bar exam is a good gauge, please see an excellent My Cousin Vinny tweet thread.

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Continue Reading The Geek In Review Ep. 81 – #Barpocalypse – Cat Moon, Brian L. Frye, Stefanie Mundhenk

Since Justice Antonin Scalia was not available to be on the podcast, we reached out to Northwestern Law School’s John Paul Steven’s Professor of Law, Andrew Koppelman, and Jackson Walker Labor & Employment attorney, Sara Harris, to fill in. Justice Scalia believed in the concept of textualism when it came to the Court interpreting the law, without allowing one’s personal political bias to play a role. According to Merriam Webster, textualism is “a legal philosophy that laws and legal documents (such as the U.S. Constitution) should be interpreted by considering only the words used in the law or document as they are commonly understood.” The problem, according to Koppelman is that textualism has to be balanced with context. If a Justice were to apply or misapply the context of the issue, then textualism could be made to fit the outcome the Justice wants, regardless of what the text of the law says. In the Bostock v. Clayton Co., Georgia decision, the five conservative judges split 3-2 on how textualism applied to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title VII issue of “because of sex” discrimination, and gave the LGBTQ+ community a win in the process. We dive deep into the text, and the context of the decision.
Andrew Koppelman is also the author of the recently published book, Gay Rights vs. Religious Liberty? The Unnecessary Conflict (2020).

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Information Inspirations
After a bit of a hiatus, we bring back a few items that inspired us this week, and we hope to inspire you as well.
Greg may be retiring his In Seclusion Podcast at the end of this week (awwww), but there are plenty of legal podcasts to fill the void. Here is a couple.


Continue Reading The Geek In Review Ep. 79 – Text, Context, and SCOTUS’ Textualism in Bostock – Andrew Koppelman and Sara Harris