A couple of episodes ago, we had Richard Hsu discuss the need to eventually bring as many of our lawyers back to a physical office in order to have a successful working environment. Stephen Embry of LegalTech Crossroads Blog reached out to us after listening and wanted to argue that while he understood Richard’s argument that in order for there to be a level playing field for all lawyers in the firm, that there were actually ways to create a successful environment where lawyers could continue to work remotely. In fact, that with the right strategy, training, support, and flexibility, that it would actually attract better talent and lead to better satisfaction from not just the firm’s own lawyers, but also from the firm’s clients as well.

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Information Inspirations

Halloween is the weekend, and like any good legal nerd, you’ll want to know where to find some law review articles on the topic. Our friends at the Ohio State University Law Library have curated a list just for you.

While our guest today talks about the value of online depositions, Above the Law recently wrote about one lawyer’s desire to get back to the good old days. Which we will probably never see. But, he can keep wishing.

Dalhousie University Law School in Halifax, Nova Scotia is working to help startups in Eastern Canada work through some of their basic legal needs. This subscription-based service is designed to get the startups some help, but at the same time, not actually compete with law firms. Read more about the initio Technology and Innovation Law Clinic and its Director, Jacqueline Walsh.

Is the US Supreme Court forever going to be surrounded by the political whims of the other two branches of government? Probably. But, under the right circumstances, it may not need to be.

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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. 93 – Stephen Embry – The Future of the Law Office Won’t Need Everyone to be in the Office

For most of us, meetings are unavoidable, uninspiring, and an overall waste of everyone’s time. But, they don’t need to be. Douglas Ferguson, the founder of Voltage Control discusses how we think of meetings as passive ways to convey information when in reality, a meeting should be the place where we take action and get things done. The way Douglas and Voltage Control look at meetings is in much more of a diagnostic method. What works? What doesn’t? Can we borrow from one approach to make another work better? By applying a good design process, the meeting ends up being the place where we actually accomplish projects more than just handing out action items to hopefully complete before the next meeting. In fact, meetings should become mini-retreats and action items replaced by commitments from members of the team who come to a meeting with the understanding of what the mission and goals are, and are already taking ownership of a part of the outcomes.

If you are not satisfied with the way meetings are run at your firm or company, then Ferguson’s discussion is a great place to start. There are a number of templates and guidebooks on the Voltage Control website as well to get you started.

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Information Inspirations

As many in the media and information fields worry about disinformation/misinformation, one acronym to think about when reviewing the credibility of information is “EMAIL”. (Yes, everyone knows it is a terrible abbreviation, so we’ve pitched “MAILE” (pronounced my-Lee) as an alternative.) Think of the Evidence, Motive, Activity, Intent, and Lables surrounding the information you have. Is it questionable, or too good to be true? Both reporters and information professionals rely upon credible information and sources, or we lose our own credibility. For more on this, check out the New York Times The Daily podcast about the issues surrounding the NY Post’s release of what they thought was the October Surprise, but what we ended up talking about was the process of how reporters verify possible hacked and leaked information.

Speaking of elections, it is very easy to get caught up in the emotions this political season. The Five Thirty-Eight Blog helps both calm some of those fears and gives you some tips on how to handle the stress everyone is feeling in 2020.

Large law firms are still finding ways of creating safe and productive work environments for their lesbian, gay, and bisexual attorneys and staff. While many have updated policies and procedures to protect sexual orientation, they are still way behind when it comes to gender identity for Trans and Queer attorneys and staff. If you’re behind on those policies, now is the time to start updating them as there will certainly be more professionals who identify as gender nonconforming entering the legal industry. Whether it is trans partners making equity status in firms like Goodwin Proctor, or a partner from Patton Squire Boggs identifying as nonbinary, there will be more people coming out in the years to come. Time to prepare.

One problem with propaganda is that once you release it into the world, it can take on a life of its own. While many may think that “Fake News” is a modern phenomenon, the Woodrow Wilson administration actually used these tactics in 1912 with the Committee on Public Information. Seems that history does have a way of repeating itself.
Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 92 – Douglas Ferguson on Doing the Work in the Meeting

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

In order to measure what matters, it is important to have the data available to help. Sarah Lin is the Information Architect & Digital Librarian at RStudio, PBC, and is also a law librarian. RStudio wanted someone to help them manage their digital morass and to Marie Kondo their digital information. Is there anyone better than a law librarian with some tech skills to do just that?
Sarah discusses what the R Programming language does, and how she got interested in the profession of statistical computing. While some may not see a direct link between being a law librarian and an R programmer, there are actually a number of skills librarians possess which make them well suited for data analytics. One skill is our ability to understand, clean, and organize information. For RStudios, the Chief Scientist, Hadley Wickam created Tidyverse which helps in handling the clean data tasks. And there are also resources like Shinyapps.io to help organize. Throw in a law librarian to have it all make sense and tell a story and you have a fantastic combination of skills and tools. And we should mention that it is free open-source software.

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To learn more about the R language check out:
 
Information Inspirations
Roy Sexton from Clark Hill lays out what law firm marketing does as opposed to what law firm business development does in the latest episode of Steve Fretzin’s Be That Lawyer. Roy’s advice of the “Rule of Three” when it comes to promoting yourself and your marketing products makes this a must-listen episode.
Adam Smith, Esq. covers the new initiative by our friend Phil Flora and Leopard Solutions on ranking law firms by their vitality and resilience, not just once a year, but in real-time.
Feeling the effects of COVID, the election, the environment, or the hundred other stressors in your life? Maybe take Prof. Eric Janssen’s advice and put down your phone and go for a walk.
Did you know there was a Pirate who was a 17th Century Anthony Bourdain? Marlene teaches Greg about this culinary outlaw and also teaches him about breadfruit.


Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 90 – Using Data Analytics to Tell Your Story with RStudio’s Sarah Lin

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

No matter what happens during this economic, political, health, and social crisis, Olga Mack reminds us that our skills are ours to keep. Olga is the CEO of Parley Pro, and brings her wisdom to the podcast on what lawyers and other legal professionals need to do to take care of themselves and thrive through the good times and the bad. Olga is the CEO of Parley Pro, a company that developed an innovative contract lifecycle management (CLM) tool, but she is so much more than that. A prolific speaker, a thought leader in the legal industry, a litigator, a transactional attorney, an in-house, as well as BigLaw attorney alumni. If you can name it, she’s probably mastered it. We sit down with Olga to talk about a range of topics and share in her wisdom and experiences. Come along for the ride.

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Information Inspirations
Artificial Lawyer and Legal Examiner both covered stories about a unique type of litigation funding company called LawAsYouGo. While they tout their ability to enhance Access to Justice (A2J) issues, there are a number of issues that we’d like to see addressed with how they actually create a positive influence on the A2J movement.
Our friends at Legal Innovators produced a White Paper called “Restoring Lost Hope: How to finally achieve meaningful diversity and inclusion in the legal industry.” Bryan Parker and Jon Greenblatt cover the issues of current and historic racial discrimination in the legal industry and suggestions on how to move forward. One major issue that we worry about is the fatigue that seems to be setting in on certain segments of the population. Now is not the time to rest, or think we’ve learned enough. Sharing this paper with the powers that be at your organization might be one way to help power through and look for meaningful ways to encourage diversity, inclusion, and equality.
In a recent Lindsey, Africa, and Major survey, women partners are paid an average of $332,000 less than their male counterparts. Business Insider looks at this report and explains how one of the best options for female partners to increase their pay and their happiness, is to leave and go to somewhere else.
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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 88 – Olga Mack on Valuing Your Skills, Reputation, and Determination

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

The i.WILL professional networking forum is a culmination of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP’s CIO, Andrea Markstrom’s passion for empowering women. i.WILL (Inspiring Women Igniting Leadership & Learning) works to connect, professional women across different industries and leverage this network to help give these women the guidance to build upon their leadership skills. i.WILL now has a foothold in New York, New Jersey, Minneapolis, Fort Lauderdale, and (with Marlene’s help) soon coming to Houston. There are over 400 members within the network and growing. Andrea discusses the three pillars of the organization of Networking Events, Giving Back and Paying Forward, and the Grant Fund called i.WILL Accelerate. Andrea puts it best when she describes the mission in that, “We are strong women. We are smart women. We have experience. We all have a story to share, and we can learn from each other.”
To learn more about i.WILL, contact Andrea via LinkedIn and she can get you on the mailing list. There is an upcoming event called the Board Boot Camp in coordination with The Fourth Floor.

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Information Inspirations
While we talk about the value of Data Scientists, it could be Social Scientists like Dr. Zeynep Tufekci who are really the best situated to understand how information (or “the truth”) needs to be exposed to the public. Trying to manipulate the truth because you’re afraid that the public might do something bad with it, is actually not a good idea. (See Dr. Tufekci’s keynote at the 2015 CALI Conference)
What can you do with professionals like Firefighters who have open work schedules? Perhaps a version of the gig economy might leverage them into a B2B model. David Heim-Buck is trying that very thing with his new start-up, Hidrent.


Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 84 – Andrea Markstrom and the i.WILL Forum. Women Empowering Women