When mega-legal publisher, Thomson Reuters, acquired regional legal publisher, O’Connor’s in January 2018, there were many Texas lawyers and law librarians who worried about what would happen to this very popular publisher. Greg sits down with former O’Connor’s Vice President, Jason Wilson, and talks about the history of O’Connor’s, why they focused on information design, and the plain English style of writing of their books. Wilson says the secret to good publishing, is spending a good amount of time preparing the material, and a systematic approach to organizing the material in a way that makes sense to the attorneys. While O’Connor’s has be gobbled up by Thomson Reuters, Wilson thinks that there is still a lot of room for small and regional legal publishers. In fact, he says it makes perfect sense for large publishers to license some of their more regional or niche materials to smaller vendors so that they can give it the attention to detail those topics need.

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Information Inspirations
In a world where you can’t swing a swag back at a legal conference without hitting a vendor claiming to have AI which will transform the industry, is ROSS Intelligence pushing it a little too far when they claim that they’ve pulled legal research out of the “dark ages” and that they’ve eliminated the need for humans to compile information found in traditional secondary sources (AKA treatises)? Greg suggests that when you read PR like this, have your law librarian test it to see if it really is transformative, or if it is purely PR speak.
Thomson Reuters recently published a white paper called The Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color (pdf). In a legal industry which is 85% white, and 64% male (compared to US stats of 76.6% and 49.2% respectively), TR sets out to interview 23 attorneys of color across the country to find out what they see white/male attorneys are doing to advance and retain lawyers of color. There are three themes picked up by TR in the interview which cover:


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Ian McDougall is the General Counsel for LexisNexis, as well as the President of LexisNexis’ Rule of Law Foundation. According to the Foundation, The Rule of Law is made up of four parts:

1. Equality Under the Law
2. Transparency of Law
3. Independent Judiciary
4. Accessible Legal Remedy

For there to be a true existence of Rule of Law, all four parts must be present in the governments which rule the people. McDougall says that no country has mastered the Rule of Law, and that ideals like democracy and justice can cause significant barriers to the Rule of Law. Without the Rule of Law, there is no true access to justice. Without the Rule of Law, commerce doesn’t flow. McDougall is working with partners, including the United Nations, NGOs and corporate operations to establish stable environments, for people, as well as commerce.

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Information Inspirations:

We live in an age of massive data, analytics, business intelligence tools which allow industry leaders to gain insights on their organizations, industry, and competition. With all these resources, data, analytics, and insights at their fingertips, Deloitte’s recent survey of over 1,000 industry leaders exposes that a majority of these leaders still desire the simplicity of spreadsheets. To borrow from Henry Ford, they desire a faster horse.
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On this episode of The Geek in Review, Anusia Gillespie, the US Head of Innovation at Eversheds Sutherland, sits down with us this week to discuss what she refers to as the “New Big Law” market’s inverted approach to innovation. In a market filled with problem solvers, sometimes the innovation we create solves a problem first, and then sets out to find the problem for this solution. Gillespie finds that innovation is disciplined and structured in its approach, but broad and creative in its thinking. Innovation definitely doesn’t live in any one discipline. Innovative solutions might require technology expertise, but it could just as well only require professional development expertise or strict legal expertise. She’s convinced that we need to move away from this type of anchoring bias to ensure that, in this time of rebuilding law into New Big Law, legal innovators finally design and implement correct and smart solutions. With the various professionals needed to identify problems, and create solutions, you need leadership, structure, a bit of fun mixed in, and a champion-forward approach. We dive into issues ranging from an overview of how Eversheds defines innovation to case studies of Gillespie’s publication on smart solutions for lateral recruitment and lateral onboarding.

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Information Inspirations
There are five very good podcast recordings from Legal Talk Networks “On the Road” series from the American Association of Law LIbraries (AALL) conference in Washington, DC. Interviews include a number of AALL members, such as, DIana Koppang, Jean O’Grady, Steve Lastres, and Catherine Monte, and other innovators like Dean Sonderegger, Gabe Teninbaum, and others. Check it out! Subscribe to it (and to The Geek in Review whle you’re at it!!)


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The Geek In Review Podcast – Episode 45

After a week of Washington, DC heat and humidity, we are back to discuss all things legal information with a slant toward technology and management. We have a recap of the American Association of Law Libraries annual conference, #AALL19, where Marlene runs through her packed schedule of events which she attended, presented, or wished she’d attended. Greg was just happy to rotate off the AALL Executive Board, which he’s been a part of for most of this decade. Don’t worry…. there’s still plenty of other AALL work for him to do.
On this episode, Marlene and Greg go international for the topics. We talk with Lluis Faus and Masoud Gerami of vLex about the recent merger of Gerami’s longtime foreign legal information platform, Justis. Faus and Gerami tell us the story of how they were able to blend the two platforms together, and the process of how they are able to pull together information from over 30 different countries, all with different levels of transparency and access to their legal information.

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Information Inspirations
France recently outlawed the use of judicial analytics which allows for the searching and identifying the names of the judges. We reached out to Tara Tubman-Bassirian, a French lawyer practicing in the UK, about the reasoning behind France’s criminalization of judicial data. Tubman-Bassirian says that the reasoning rests somewhere between the country’s effort to protect its Civil Law structure and the anonymity of the judges, and a flat out fear of what technology might be bringing in the ways of analytics, AI, and other unknown advancements.


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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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