Photo of Toby Brown

We give you the true “3 Geeks” experience on this week’s show as we are joined by an OG (original geek) Toby Brown. Toby, Marlene, and Greg talk with Litify’s President and COO, Ari Treuhaft, and Pam Wickersham, the VP of Product and Engineer there at Litify. One of the taglines at Litify is that they #BreakLegalSilos. Treuhaft and Wickersham explain what that means, and how they focus on providing an operating system, built on Salesforce, that creates transparency between Corporate Counsel and their law firms.

Both Ari and Pam got their start in Financial and Professional services, so they come at these business problems with a different approach. With Pam’s engineering background, and experiences at Google, she brings in a unique perspective on how to build the technology through the lens of the customer. Ari’s experiences with the Financial Services industry going to the cloud over a decade ago also positions him to better understand the naysayers in the legal industry who are still resistant to placing data in the cloud.

It’s a great conversation. We want to thank the great folks at City Acre Brewery in Houston, Texas for letting us record this episode there. And, for not laughing too hard as Greg destroyed his laptop by spilling an entire Maple Porter into his brand-new laptop. We hope this is a semi-regular event! (Recording at City Acre… not pouring a beer into laptops!!)

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Crystal Ball Question

Toby Brown takes on our question this week by talking about the fact that attorneys are resistant to changing behaviors, not because they are unwilling to adapt to new technology, but because this is an industry that is very reputational based.

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Twitter: @gebauerm@glambert, or @gnawledge
Voicemail: 713-487-7821
Music: Jerry David DeCicca


Continue Reading Creating Actual Transparency Between Law Firms and Clients – Litify’s Ari Treuhaft and Pam Wickersham (TGIR Ep. 182)

The Answer: Pay for it.

Recently I saw a marketing email from a company that sells its services to in-house legal departments. It was titled something like “Steps to Improve Diversity.” To be honest – I didn’t read it. However, this topic has been top-of-mind for me for some time now so it generated this

A recent mini-epiphany got me thinking again about legal innovation. This epiphany came during a review of some survey results on the culture of large law firms. And like many epiphanies, it came from just one small comment, which served as the straw.

The survey was of law firm business professionals on their roles and

I recently attended a conference that included both law firms and clients. One of the clients had a slide showing his company’s savings by bringing work in-house. It was the classic approach of comparing billing rates for law firm lawyers to hourly compensation rates of equivalent level in-house lawyers. Even though this lawyer was not

For years the prevailing wisdom has been there are no economies of scale for law firms. In the classic economics sense this is true. Having more lawyers does not reduce the amount of time it takes to perform legal tasks. So it does not matter whether you work at a firm with a few lawyers or with hundreds of them. The work has always been very manual so larger scale does not impact the time it takes to get things done.

However … there are other economies of scale to be gained from size in a law firm. These economies exist and are emerging on the business side of firms. One might jump to the conclusion these will primarily be IT based, automating lawyer functions and such. But those functions are still early stage and not yet having widespread impact. Instead these economies of what I will call value, are coming from other corners of the firm.

This thought came to be recently when discussing diversity goals with a client. My firm has just over 1000 lawyers. At this size we can afford to have a chief diversity and inclusion officer (who is awesome by the way). A firm with 100 lawyers is unlikely to afford such a role. A firm that size is more likely to task a partner with that function, so it is not their day job.
Continue Reading Economies of Scale for Law Firms?

Having recently attended a conference on law firm innovation, I came to the realization that Blockchain has lost its pre-eminent place in the legal BS stratosphere. This is a sad day. Blockchain had a good life and provided tons of opportunities for people to opine on how ‘everything’ will change because of it. I recall one especially insightful article on emerging crypto-toilet paper offerings. Too bad we will never know the warm comfort of crypto-paper making a pass around the seventh planet.

Moving right along – we now will enjoy six to nine months of “innovation” articles, seminars, conferences, white papers, case studies and booze-induced discussions.

Oh sweet pessimism.
Continue Reading Law Firm Innovation – The Newest BS Phrase


I hate it when an article title present a question and then draws out the answer until you are over half-way through the material. So I started with the answer on this post.

Of course you could have guessed that answer pretty easily. But as I have been thinking about this issue lately, another dimension to this question came to mind.

Turning the way-back machine to 1999 – I was involved in a start-up as part of the Dot.Com boom (and bust). We had a technology that provided Enforceable Online Transactions. We calculated that there were 50 billion transactions every hour, or something like that, on the planet. And we only had to capture a fraction of that to get rich. Sadly – that was not the result. But at the time many people would ask me if I was afraid to take the risk of having a job like that. Start ups are a risky place to be. I could lose my job at any time.
Continue Reading Is Your Job Safe?

After (more than) numerous times of trashing on task codes in pricing presentations, a few people prodded me into doing something about it. In those presentations on pricing, the topic of task codes would always come up. I suggested that maybe task codes aren’t the place to start when focusing on pricing, budgeting, etc. Instead we would start by setting standards for the type of work being performed. In other words, you should understand what type of matter is involved before you worry about task or other segments of work under that level.
Continue Reading The Legal Industry Now Has a Standards Body: Announcing SALI

[Ed. Note: Today’s post comes from guest blogger, Steve Nelson from The McCormick Group. Steve suggest the next generation of COOs will need different skills and perspectives to be successful. He is right. – TB]

A recent article in Bloomberg Big Law Business detailed the increasing sophistication of Chief Operating Officers at law firms, pointing out that many of the new COOs have managed corporate organizations, other major professional services firms, and large government agencies.

But the article misses an important factor in what law firm leaders need in today’s environment. Much has been written lately about the challenges that the AmLaw law firms are facing because of the increased scrutiny by clients and their own “chief operating officers”, as evidenced by the growth of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). What has changed, particularly since the recession, has been a complete reevaluation of the “law firm engagement”. Clients have taken a much more comprehensive view of their outside counsel retention, not just in terms of billing rates and alternative fees, but in the way that their work is handled. This ranges from billing practices, composition of teams, and the reporting of even minor “event changes” that impacts the engagement as a whole.Continue Reading The Law Firm COO of the Future