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

I had the good fortune to attend the first in-person CLOC Global Institute in three years. It was an extremely positive experience. Unfortunately, I came home to find I was different kind of positive (new reality; unsurprising after three weeks of travel). I was therefore not able to timely complete my final CGI Dispatch for Artificial Lawyer. Blogs, however, have no deadlines.

To recap:

Dispatch #1 discussed the rise of legal ops in the context of ever-increasing scale, organizational complicatedness, and legal complexity.

Dispatch #2 covered the stellar pre-conference Legal Ops 101 session, highlighting the importance of education when most legal ops roles are net new and, therefore, being filled by individuals with no prior experience.

Dispatch #3 reported on the first day of CGI, which was bookended by sessions on storytelling (one of my favorite topics).

Dispatch #4 was to be a reflection piece. While I could have done without the multiple days of fatigue and brain fog, I am glad I had the opportunity to truly reflect.

Let me set the scene.

LARGE CONFERENCE ROOM — BELLAGIO, LAS VEGAS — CLOC GLOBAL INSTITUTE — LEGAL OPS 101

The presenters are lined up on stage at the end of a three-hour session built around the CLOC Core 12. The Q&A session is commencing. I am part of a sold-out audience of 170+.

Question: At a company where legal ops is new, which of the Core 12 would you start with?

Presenter1: Well, I began by getting the DMS under control.

Me (mouthing silently): What? No?

Presenter2: Typically, ebilling and outside counsel rates get attacked first.

Me (shaking head and whispering): But…but…

Presenter3: Knowledge management.

Me (clutching table and muttering compulsively): No! No! You start with the business! The business!

Presenter4: Department budgeting.

Me (spontaneously combusts)

END SCENE

The above is not a literal transcript. But it is a fair recounting of the conclusion of the excellent Legal Ops 101. What was unfair was my reaction.

While I have been wrong many times before (here, here), I stand by my substantive point in this instance. I am a broken record (most recently, here) about the importance, and unfortunate absence, of centering business needs in law department planning.

But being right is different than being fair.
Continue Reading CLOC Global Institute – Reflection (Delayed)

We all know that it takes some “outside of the box thinking” to help improve the legal system in the United States, especially when it comes to Pro Se litigants. Courtroom5 CEO and co-founder Sonja Ebron does exactly that with her startup focused on guiding Pro Se litigants through complex court processes. Ed Walters, CEO and co-founder of Fastcase wants the legal industry to stop trying so hard to reinforce that “box.” Together, Ebron and Walters are creating a process to help litigants access and navigate the court system through a combination of case process instructions, legal information, Artificial Intelligence, and collaboration with legal professionals. Eventually, Ebron would like to see the courts themselves leverage Courtroom5’s abilities to help those seeking legal recourse.

Walters stresses that the “North Star” of legal practice should be the wellbeing of clients. In a system where according to The World Justice Project, over 75% of legal needs go unmet, and some 80% of citizens seeking judicial action do so without the use of legal professionals. Part of that solution lies with the courts and the need to focus on the ability “to filter out people who need lawyers helping people who don’t.”

Once again, this is not about replacing lawyers with robots, or encouraging Pro Se litigants to not seek legal assistance. Courtroom5 and Fastcase are seeking ways to improve the overall process of placing the right information in front of litigants, at the right time. Even if those instructions are to highly recommend seeking legal counsel.

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Jerry David DeCicca

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 160 – Sonja Ebron and Ed Walters Collaborate on Courtroom5 and Fastcase to Help Pro Se Litigants Access Justice

When three legal innovators gather together in their town of Houston, the topic drifts toward the interesting innovation and creativity hubs happening around the city. Both inside and outside of law firms. In a special “after-hours” episode of The Geek in Review, we talk with Norton Rose Fulbright US’ Head of Innovation, Zack Barnes. The conversation is a diverse as the city. We talk about the The Ion innovation epicenter and Zack’s interest in how these types of innovation hubs can use help from the law firms within the city to help guide entrepreneurs in the early stages. 
In addition to the conversation revolving around legal innovation and creativity, we also talk on Zack’s experiences with creating and writing patents as a start-up entrepreneur himself, and finding other start-ups to invest in for companies like Halliburton. One big difference between innovation within corporations and innovation within law firms is the story that the innovators need to tell. At corporations, it’s about establishing a viable product, where at law firms, the story is more around the value and the relationship enhancements to the clients.
Zack also describes how he went to college to be a mountain bike racer and how that love of speed expanded to a faster, but less bone breaking hobby of racing Corvettes. To top things off, we lubricate the discussion with some wonderful local Houston beers. Buckle up and grab your own favorite beverage as we talk all things innovation and happenings here in our favorite city of Houston. Let us know if you are ever in town and we can take you to one or more of the great innovation and brewing spots around town.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 159 – After-Hours with NRF’s Zack Barnes

We are all pretty familiar with the phrase “Legal Tech.” Maya Markovich and Yousef Kassim would like you to also become more familiar with the phrase “Justice Tech” as well. In fact, they have a new trade association focused on this issue called the Justice Technology Association or JTA. Justice Tech is defined as those companies which build tech solutions which are designed to improve or open access to legal rights, improve outcomes, and increase equity within a system that is stacked against users who are often going it alone in the justice system. Yousef Kassim’s product, EasyExpunctions.com is one example.
Maya Markovich is the Executive Director of JTA, and along with founders like Yousef Kassim and a diverse board of advisors, JTA is looking to leverage technology to help those seeking access to justice. This group of founders and advisors are not limited to lawyers, as access to justice is not a problem that can be solved by lawyers alone. JTA brought in engineers, policy advisors, academics, venture capitalists, and a wide range of other professionals to help guide the mission of the trade association. You can learn more at JusticeTechAssociation.org.
LegalWeek Crystal Ball Question:
We wind down our series of LegalWeek Crystal Ball responses with another former guest, Steve Embry. Steve recently wrote on his TechLaw Crossroads blog about the desire to be in the office less, and what that means for law firms when it comes to office space, training, and culture. Embry doesn’t see it as all doom and gloom as some law firm leaders might.
Links:

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Music: 
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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 158 – Justice Technology Association’s Maya Markovich and Yousef Kassim

For many of us, what we think of when we hear “American Lawyer Media”, we think of lots of print newspapers, magazines, The American Lawyer, and the AmLaw 100/200 lists. Bill Carter, CEO of the newly re-branded ALM, sees the tremendous value of the data that ALM collects much more than just the news articles it produces. When Carter took over the reins at ALM in 2012, he evaluated the company like a consultant, and determined that the best path forward was through consolidation of titles through the evolution of law.com; moving away from individual subscriptions to an enterprise model, and; focus on the wealth of data compiled by ALM and find ways to leverage that data as the path forward for the company. We have an amazing look into what ALM is doing these days and a peek at what Bill Carter would like to do in the near future.

Links to Items Discussed:
LegalWeek Crystal Ball Answer

This week’s Crystal Ball answer comes to us from Ken Crutchfield of Wolters Kluwer. Ken is monitoring all of the exciting legal technologies that are springing out of the AI explosion and who will be the winners, and who will be the losers as things shake out.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 157 – ALM’s Bill Carter – It’s All About the Data