The law is the law, and should be in the public domain, right?? Well, you’d think so, but it may be up to the US Supreme Court to make that determination in its next session when it takes up The State of Georgia v. Public.Resources.org. We talk with Tom Gaylord, Faculty Services & Scholarly Communications Librarian at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, about his thoughts on why the Court granted cert. on an issue that hasn’t been on its radar, and how he thinks a minimum of five justices may align on the issue. Tom breaks down possible arguments and what could happen if the Court rules in favor of Georgia’s claim of copyright of its statues, or if it creates a bright line rule that statutes are not copyrightable. This is going to be one interesting case to follow.

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Information Inspirations
Marlene discusses Carolyn Elefant’s article on Whose Data Is It Anyway? and brings up the age old question of just because we can, doesn’t mean we should, when it comes to data collection of client information. Lawyers have a special relationship with their clients and must be careful not to damage that relationship through the use of data collection (even if that collection is ethical, and with client consent.


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It seems that the current workforce is looking for more flexibility in where they work, and how often that means in an office setting, a home office, or in some other remote location. We conducted a semi-Elephant Post episode this week and asked our listeners to call in and leave their stories about the pros and cons of remote working. We have a diverse group of 13 stories ranging from marketers, librarians, attorneys, techies, and more from North America and even from Europe. Key factors are trust, transparency, flexibility, and a fast Internet connection. Walk with us as we celebrate The Geek in Review’s first anniversary of podcasts by listening to a baker’s dozen of stories of why working remotely works, or doesn’t work for people.

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Information Inspirations

By demand, we bring back the Information Inspirations to the beginning of the episode.
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There’s more to strategy than having a shelf full of binders labeled “Strategy [Insert Year].” That’s what this week’s guest, Matt Homann from Filament, tells us. Matt’s influence in the legal market goes back a couple of decades, and he’s been a voice in the blogging sphere for a number of years. At Filament, he works with legal, as well as other industries (like the St. Louis Cardinals) to help leaders better relate and guide their organizations. As he puts it, “we help smart people think together better.” Matt believes that the way we tell our stories will help people join in on the overall efforts and strategies of the organization. It’s easy to tell our stories to like-minded people, but we also have to tell (and sell) our story to those who are opposed to the strategies. More importantly, we have to reach those in the middle, who could go either way. If you convince that 50-80% of people willing to join you if you give them the right motivation, it can change the entire momentum of your organization’s efforts. (5:25 Mark)

Links to Topics Covered:

Monday Morning Meeting Newsletter
Unreasonable Request Post (and Poster)
Idea Quarantine
Powerpoint Bingo

Information Inspirations

We flip this week’s episode and try something new. Our information inspirations segment will come after the interview. Let us know (@gebauerm or @glambert or call 713-487-7270) and let us know if you like or hate this new setup.

Why isn’t data privacy a bigger deal?

There’s a great episode of Make Me Smart which discusses Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. That section is responsible for the social media and overall Internet that we have today. What caught Greg’s ear on this show was that co-host, Molly Wood, went on an absolute rant about how private and government entities are still not taking our privacy data as seriously as they should. Just this week there was a breach at US Customs where facial recognition data was hacked. With things like DNA databases, and other personal data out there in unsecured databases, and with penalties being relatively light, Molly was not a happy camper. (36:32 Mark)
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Brad Blickstein, Principal at the Blickstein Group, a research and advisory firm for both in-house and outside law firms, joins us to talk about legal operation, and his recent experiences at the 2019 CLOC Institute in Las Vegas. As with many great conferences, the programming between 9 AM and 5 PM is good… but the conversations from 5 PM to 9 PM (or 5 AM, this was Vegas), are what makes the gathering really special. We’re calling it #CLOCAfterDark.
There’s a lot going on in Legal Operations, and the Blickstein Group has put out a Law Department Operations survey for over a decade. He gives some great insights on the relationships between in-house counsel and outside law firms. While there’s a big difference between the business operations in a company versus a law firm, the attorneys tend to be cut from the same cloth. Groups like CLOC are positioned perfectly to help lawyers understand the roles they need to play to protect their organizations. Blickstein stresses that Legal Operations is a broad topic, and that CLOC is part of that movement, but is not all there is within the movement. There’s a lot going on, and the opportunities are pretty expansive these days. (12:00 mark)

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Information Inspirations
Copyright is not something to LOL about. The Houston Independent School District was slapped with a $9.2 Million copyright violation for copying study guides. Even though they cleverly blocked out the warning on the guides that “copying of these materials is strictly prohibited.” Be careful out there when it comes to thinking it’s okay to copy and distribute materials which have copyright protection. It can cost you millions. (2:50 mark)
AI Sharecroppers. We all know that data is king these days, but not all data can be automatically gathered. At least not effectively. There is an underclass of labors out there who are being used to help gather and identify data needed to power AI programs, known as “human labeling.” As the name “sharecropper” might imply, they do a lot of work… but don’t make a lot of money. (5:25 mark)
Algorithm Problems creates Human Liabilities. We rely upon automation, AI, machine learning, and other technology to advance our society, but when those fail, it’s not the automation that takes the blame. It’s usually the human that is around at the time. MIT Technology Review talks about how we have a 21st Century tech problem that’s being adjudicated under 20th Century morals and laws. (7:05 mark)


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In our 40th Episode, Greg and Marlene interview Erin Levine, an attorney and founder/CEO of Hello Divorce, a service that makes divorce more human and accessible by offering legal help and wellness support throughout the process of dissolving a marriage.   Offered in California, Hello Divorce offers access to resources and tools and different service levels, from basic to concierge to a la carte access to independent fixed fee attorneys.  Erin highlights that the legal process can be confusing, dis-empowering and expensive and that Hello Divorce is a necessary guide to help people navigate the system in a way that doesn’t destroy them financially and emotionally.  While divorce representation is a consistent legal need, Erin highlights that there are many other parts of the process that are also necessary which don’t require attorney skills.  She leverages various forms of process improvement including outsourcing, automation, smart contracts to make the service application scalable.

Part of what is interesting about the discussion (and there are lots of interesting parts) is that Erin stands the idea of aggressive and hostile divorce action on its head.  While Erin has critics, she maintains the benefit of taking down level of tension and fear between the parties.  In fact, 92% of divorces started with hello Divorce have concluded without having to refer out to full rep attorneys. (10:17 mark)

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Information Inspirations

According to  Aliqae Geraci from Cornell and Shannon L. Farrell from University of Minnesota wrote an article entitled “Normalize Negotiations!” we teach librarians a lot about management skills, but we’ve lacked in teaching them basic skills like salary and promotion negotiation skills. There is a place for the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) to teach their members these skills. (4:05 mark)

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Jim Hannigan, the Director of Legal Project Management at Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP and a member of the leadership team and standards committee at SALI Alliance walks us through the importance surround data standards when it comes to legal matters. Creating standards is the first step in allowing those of us in the legal services industry to speak the same language, and create ways of comparing apples to apples when it comes to marketing pitches, prior experience, or matter pricing. Hannigan discusses why SALI was created, the release of the first set of matter standards in January of this year, and what to expect at the LMA P3 Conference next month.

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We also discuss the current situation with Wolters Kluwer experiencing a ransomeware attack which shut down most of it’s online resource tools. WK has been very open about what happened, and is keeping a public statement page open as they begin to bring services back online – although, others may not agree. Just another reason to watch out for those phishing emails!

Information Inspirations

Legal innovation needs to learn some new tricks.” Rae Digby-Morgan at Wilson Fletcher, tells us that you can’t just slap “legal” or “law” onto a process and think that it makes it special. In fact, the legal industry may be a bit too much insular and should open up to non-legal experts to come in and advise us on how to improve our processes. She also reminds everyone that process improvement does not equal innovation. The value-add results of process improvements are expected by our clients… and is the floor, not the ceiling. If you want to separate yourself from the competition, being truly innovative will help.

How a Google Street View image of your house predicts your risk of a car accident. Standford University and the University of Warsaw in Poland have tested Google’s Street View images of individual’s houses to determine how likely they will be to file an auto insurance claim. Reportedly, they improved predictability by 2%. Scary! Marlene wonders what are the next factors in determining future actions? If you run 5K’s, or donate to non-profits?

Kim Kardashian and Legal Team Help Free 17 Prisoners in 90 Days. Although neither Greg nor Marlene watch KUWTK, or follow Kim on Instragram, they have nothing but good things to say about her work to help free 17 people who were imprisoned and drug related charges. Some serving life sentences. If you’re going to have power and fame and a platform, using it for social justice is a great way to use it.

Listen, Subscribe, download Jerry’s music, and Send Us Tweets and Voicemails, Too!!

Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and comment. You can tweet @gebauerm and/or @glambert to reach out. Call us at 713-487-7270 with suggestions. And, thanks to Jerry David DiCicca for the music!


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Welcome to a mini-episode of The Geek In Review. Shot on location in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Law School Stress??  No Kidding!

This week, we continue our discussion on how law students can have a stressful time in the three years they are in law school. We can’t change what happens during law school, but we’ve asked some experts to tell us what they do to help law students reduce stress as they prep for finals, and what they can do to be successful as summer associates in law firms.

We finish our series about how law schools are reducing stress by hearing from the following schools:

  • Howard University
  • University of Hawaii
  • University of Houston
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Georgia State University
  • University of Texas

We appreciate these schools (and the ones from last week) taking the time to tell us what all they are doing to help students deal with finals.\

Hey Summer Associates… Listen Up!

We also talk with a number of AmLaw 100 firms about what their expectations are for how summer associates can have a successful tour of duty at their firms. Greg and Marlene were at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, and they asked a number of their fellow attendees what they do to help summer associates succeed, or what their expectations are for how law schools should prepare them for this work, and what they allow from outside vendors in regards for training as assistance during the Summers’ time at the firm. 
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David Whelan, the Director of Legal Information & the Great Library Society of Ontario, discusses his recent article “The No Legal Research Provider Landscape,” and how lawyers, law librarians, and the legal industry looks at legal information services. Do you need to have multiple resources like Westlaw, LexisNexis, Bloomberg or others, or can

One of the best things about the legal industry is that there are multiple pathways to success. We are all trained issue spotters, and our guest on this episode identified an issue and founded a new company to fix that issue. Brian Powers is the CEO and co-founder of PactSafe, a high-velocity contract acceptance platform used by such major companies like Angie’s List, UpWork, BMC, TIVO, and others to handle large volumes of clickthrough agreements. We talk with Brian about what motivated him to take on this challenge, and how he sought out to change the way businesses approach these types of contacts, and bring efficiency to the market place, and the legal industry through technology and process improvements. Brian is just one more example of those in the legal field who has found an alternative path through identifying inefficiencies, and finding ways to correct them.

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Hat tip to Kristin Hodgins for her tweet this week when she saw that someone said that if law firms are going to us AI, we need ways to collect structured data. Hodgins tweet reply was spot on when she said “Guess who are experts at structured data? Librarians. Google didn’t destroy us; it help us by reducing low-value work like rote retrieval from our duties & allowed us to focus on high-order skills. AI will do the same.” Well said!

Information Inspirations:

We’re doing AI Wrong

Zach Warren interviewed Brad Blickstein in a law.com article this week about how law firms are looking at AI the wrong way. When it comes to AI and law firms, Blickstein says that “[AI has] become a top-down thing: What are we doing about AI? It’s like asking, what are we doing about databases? It’s a crazy question. The question should be, what problems do we have, how do we solve them, and is AI or some semblance of AI a potential solution for that?”  Brad’s company, Blickstein Group, is producing a Legal AI Efficacy report that is due out this summer. 
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Not many people can make the transition from Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics, and then to the legal analytics field, but Dr. Carla Rydholm is someone who did just that. For nearly the past decade, Dr. Rydholm has been leading the charge of data analytics at Lex Machina. She is charged with not only acquiring the data large amounts of data but also maintaining that data as it is updated. Dr. Rydholm stopped by Greg’s Houston office, along with episode 10’s guest, Kyle Doviken to tell us about transitioning from pure scientist, to her current role, and what drives her passion for data analytics, and how the data is used to tell the story, and help attorney’s understand what’s previously happened, and use that as a guide to better understand where they may be headed. It’s a very insightful conversation.

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Marlene WIns an Award!

The Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLL-IP) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is giving Blogger of the Year status to our very own Marlene Gebauer for her outstanding work on this podcast. Congrats Marlene!!
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