On this episode of The Geek in Review Podcast, we have a wonderful conversation with Steve Embry of the TechLaw Crossroads blog. Embry walked away from his AmLaw 200 partnership almost a year ago to follow his passion to become a full time legal blogger. He discusses how there is an art to storytelling, and as a lawyer, there are different ways to present those stories. Storytelling is a skill which needs to be honed, whether that is through legal blogging, or through leveraging technology to present your story in a courtroom environment. Embry’s passion in this new phase of his life is palatable throughout this interview and even inspires those of us who have been blogging for years to remember why it is we do it.

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Information Inspirations:

Ernst and Young is poised to swoop in and acquire Thomson Reuters’ managed legal services company, Pangea3. Marlene wonders what this means for the future of both the Big 4 entering the legal market, and what the future objectives of Thomson Reuters in the legal industry. Continue Reading Stephen Embry – The Passion Behind Legal Blogging

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?

On this episode of The Geek In Review, we talk with Joe Lawson, Deputy Director of the Harris County Law Library in Houston, Texas. With Harris County being the third largest county in the United States, there is a large number of attorneys, judges, and citizens who use the law library for various reasons. In 2018, there were over 24,000 filings of self-represented petitioners. That is a lot. Dallas County, by comparison, had 6,000 in the same time period. Lawson believes that there is a duty of the law library to help train lawyers, not to just be more efficient in their personal practices, but to help them have more capacity to help assist pro se litigants. Lawson’s calculation is that a 3% increase in capacity, through advancements in technology usage, could help eliminate a majority of the pro se issues in the county.

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Back from South By Southwest (SXSW)

Greg returned this week from SXSW and a trip to Northern California. Although the music was great, it was the educational sessions which took up most of his time in Austin. Panels on Gen Z, and the art of Storytelling where two of the topics that caught his attention.


Washburn Law School in Kansas allows their 3L students to finish their last year of law school actually working in the industry. In their “Third Year Anywhere” program, students receive first-hand experience working with mentor lawyers in one of six different areas. They complete their educational portion of the curriculum through online courses. Is this an outlier in legal education, or a potential trend for other schools to follow? Continue Reading Joe Lawson – How a 3% Increase in Lawyer Efficiency Can Solve a Pro Se Problem

Today’s Guest Post is from Shashi Kara, my partner in Sente Advisors. – RPM

This article about companies not getting the value from innovation that they were expecting, got me thinking. How do we know if an innovation is valuable?  I would argue that the value in innovation isn’t in a specific innovative product or process, but the knowledge gained over time as the flow of innovation leads to new learning and further iterations.

Apple G4 Cube

In July of 2000, one month after I started working at Apple as a doe eyed graduate, they introduced the Power Mac G4 Cube.  It drew lots of enthusiasts and fans because it stuffed so much into such a small package.  The only other “Power Mac” in Apple’s line up at the time was an enormous 30 lb tower.  Many point to the G4 Cube as being the beginning of the Apple’s modern golden age whereby design and hardware were so seamlessly linked that Apple was able to bring about products no other company could build. Continue Reading Innovating for the Power… and the Sex

It only took us 31 episodes, but Marlene decided that what the show lacked was a phone number for listeners to call in. So, we now have one, and we have a question for you to vote on.
“Should The Geek In Review create a video promo for upcoming episodes?” (Greg says he has the face for radio, so vote no… Marlene says it’s a great idea, so vote yes.
Call 713-487-7270 and leave your voicemail of “YES” or “NO” and what other ideas you may have for the show.

This week we have a great guest, Vishal Agnihotri, who recently returned from a world wide Legal Hackathon session, and she and her team (called the Femme LeGALs) created over 180 ideas and concepts. Besides idea generation at a phenomenal pace, Vishal is also the Chief Knowledge Officer at Hinshaw Culbertson in New York. She walks us through her journey through Knowledge Management and where she sees opportunities in law firm KM through data security.

Greg is spending the week in Austin at SXSW, and is live-blogging as much as he can here. Wish him luck, as he has taken to riding those electric scooters through the streets of Austin.

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Continue Reading Episode 31: Vishal Agnihotri on Legal Hackathons and her ‘Femme LeGALs’ team

RyanMinkoff [CC]
About a year ago something happened to me professionally that really set me off.  I fired up my laptop and spewed all of the venom in my heart into a ranty draft blog post.  Before posting it, I sent it to a few people for review.  They all agreed I’d been wronged.  Several encouraged me to publish immediately, a few suggested I should give it some more thought.

I was going through some personal difficulties at the time and I feared that some of my vehemence may have been misplaced anger, so I shelved the piece.  I left it in the drafts bucket on the blog and there it sat until last week.

Last week, through an unlikely comedy of errors, my rant was published here under the wrong byline.  If you receive 3 Geeks via feed, you may have received the unvarnished post.  It was picked up by a couple of aggregator newsletters too, but by the time you clicked the link to read the article in full *poof*, no post.  We had already realized our mistake and replaced my rant with the correct content.

Even though I wasn’t listed as the author of the rant, I received several inquiries from friends who had read the post before we fixed it. They recognized my style and were confused as to what happened and why had it been taken down.  Some were disappointed because they thought my post would start an interesting conversation about the free exchange of ideas in legal.  Some were dumbfounded because I was referencing ‘my marketing team’ when they know my new company (created several months after writing the rant) is too small to have a marketing team.  And a few were astonished that I would let fly a blue streak of expletives…no, a few were astonished that I would PUBLISH a blue streak of expletives. Had I gone forward with publishing at the time, I would have substantially edited the post.

I re-read my rant on the morning it was accidentally published, and even though I’m in a much better place personally than I was last year at this time, it turns out I’m still just as upset as I was when I originally wrote it.  So, with minimal editing (mostly for language), and in the hopes of starting a conversation about the free exchange of ideas, how to address plagiarism in a small community, and the abuse of pay-to-play events in legal, here is my Phantom Post.

Continue Reading The Phantom Post

Day 3 – Foggy, Rainy, but Uplifting… just like storytelling segments.



Tuesday, March 12, 2019 – 12:30 PM

Storytelling and Empathy in a Purpose-Driven Economy

Cheryl Houser
Founder & CEO
Creative Breed and creator of Generation Startup. (Movie)

[Ed. Note – I think it was Houser’s desire to make everyone in the audience have the “feels” and experience what it means to be a good storyteller. By the end of the session, I saw more than a few dabs of the handkerchief to the eyes by a number of audience members. – GL]

When it comes to marketing products, good marketers are no longer pushing products but rather creating a deep emotional need for the product. If you take care of the customers needs first, the brand of the company will be taken care of.


1. Feature people who are relatable and express the full range of emotions

Cast people who are universally relatable. They are most relatable when they are vulnerable. Fear. Self doubt. Love. Difference Continue Reading Live Blogging SXSW

On the 30th episode of The Geek In Review, we talk with Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian at the Chicago-Kent Law Library. Debbie was recently quoted in law.com’s “Where Are All the Women in Legal Tech?” So we cut right to the chase and ask that question to Debbie. She says that there are lots of women in legal tech, but that those putting on tech conferences need to take more action toward actively recruiting women for speaker and presenter opportunities. One profession where women are a majority, and are heavily involved in legal tech, is law librarians. The American Association of Law Libraries is approximately 75% women, and with the push toward knowledge management, analytics, competitive intelligence, and advancing the legal research and information tools, law librarians are an excellent resource when it comes to professionals in the legal tech market. Ginsberg also talks about the Women in Legal Tech Summit, held right before TechShow in Chicago. She mentions that there is an effort to expand the boundaries of women in legal tech beyond just women lawyers who are working in legal tech, and begin looking for other opportunities. Dovetailing nicely with that effort is Janders Dean, who is putting out a list of 180 highly qualified women speakers for legal tech on their Twitter page, and, Sarah Glassmeyer’s crowdsourcing list of underrepresented people in legal tech and innovation.

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Self-care isn’t selfish and can actually help your performance – Author Jenna Cho interviews one of Jackson Walker’s partners, Stephanie Sparks, who discusses how she was always waiting until the right time to take care of herself, and eventually realized that there was never a “right time” and she understood that she just had to make that time.  Cho’s article reminds us that we all need to take some time to listen to your body and mind, and remember that you can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself.  Continue Reading Episode 30: Chicago-Kent’s Debbie Ginsberg on the Value of Women in Legal Tech


I don’t play tennis, but I might after attending SOLID (Summit on Legal Innovation and Disruption)  West last week.  Playing tennis was a metaphor used by founder David Cowen of the Cowen Group to signify that we aren’t great at something right away—we must learn it. And that some are better at the game than others.

The SOLID summit has an energizing format—several TED-style talks, mostly from in-house representatives, guided roundtable discussion, then Town Hall where a few tables report to the larger group.  You switch tables a few times, so you get to meet LOTS of people.  There are also a few fireside chats and a couple sprint discussion panels.  There was very little vendor participation, other than the sponsors.  And while I appreciate the absolute value the exhibit floor, the lack of vendor involvement gave SOLID a different and welcome flavor.

The tempo was upbeat and fast-moving, which I enjoyed.  The presentations were curated and each one was valuable. Each one. Some of the main themes were:

  • General Counsel is now more integrated in business and innovative efforts (Alexia Mass)
  • Productizing of legal service will promote efficiency and distinguish firms (Stephen Allen, Kiwi Camara)
  • Industrialization of end to end process (Stephen Allen)
  • Data is unstructured. Structuring is hard, but worth it.  Choose what is important to you (Jay Angelo)
  • Building, not buying is what will set you apart (Jay Angelo, Stephen Allen, Ben Allgrove, Bennett Borden)
  • Successful change is evolutionary, not revolutionary
    • Shock therapy doesn’t work, client sourced demand is limited (Ben Allgrove)
  • Evidence based decision optimizes decision making (Bennett Borden, Eduardo Ruiz)
    • At one of my table discussions, I learned one firm does psychological assessments of potential laterals during the hiring process. They also use the same to build leadership profiles
  • Innovation from the ground up, not the top down—Activate the base!
    • Develop an Idea Channels flow and create an Idea Drop database where staff can input ideas (Anusia Gillespie)
    • Incorporate volunteer Innovation Ambassadors to spread the message (Ben Allgrove)
  • Collaboration-clients want it; teams need it (almost all speakers hit this theme)
    • Your team members are your clients, treat them that way (Wendy Callahan)
    • Firms, vendors and ALS need to work together to bring solutions to clients (Don Walther)
    • Reward efficiency and collaboration (Brett Tarr)
  • Importance of Design thinking (Don Ferguson, Patrick Barry, Bryant Isbell)
    • Don must listen to “The Geek in Review,” or “Make me Smart,” or be a student of Aristotle because he used the phrase “Nobody is as smart as everybody.” He is in good company 😊.
    • Don shared a unique example of applied design thinking where two large companies, desiring to collaborate on a large scale, used him as a facilitator so they would get the most out of meeting with each other.
  • Talent + Process + Tech= Innovation
    • Build your talent pipeline like major league baseball—farm systems, scout everywhere, play moneyball in hiring, ID MVPs and reward them (Michael Avalos)
    • Use talent tools for hiring and build work around industry, not practice group (Alexia Mass)
    • No more superhero CEOs (Michael Bryant)
    • There were some different approaches centered around teaching tech to attorneys One of the more interesting ideas I heard was that UnitedLex is working with several law school, including USC and Vanderbilt to establish a legal residency program with a focus not on tech, but on critical thinking that can be applied to business and tech.  After that, our table, complete with a Law School professor and a techie lawyer, had a robust conversation about tech knowledge of the digital natives in law school

I want to thank all the presenters and producers of SOLID West, along with my firm, for the opportunity to attend an excellent event.  Now to go work on my tennis game…



I was recently approached by the ARK Group to write a chapter for their forthcoming book about How Intelligence Functions within Law Firms Can and Should Support One Another. For years, and most recently in a series of ILTA webinars on CI, I have been advocating for collaborative intelligence. I may have even blogged about it here once or twice too.  While writing my chapter, with the same title as this post, I was able to articulate a few concepts that I thought were worth sharing and reiterating, even if they all seem obvious.

Data Doesn’t Make Decisions it seems obvious, but I think in all the AI, RoboLawyer hype we need to be reminded.  People are still central to decision making, data in its various forms and all the ranges of analysis from SWOT (simple) to AI algorithms (complex) still does require human intelligence and interaction to get at the nuance and understand sometimes complex emotional context. Continue Reading Data Doesn’t Make Decisions