The legal industry relies upon the writings and communications of lawyers, judges, and lawmakers. For the citizens and clients who are subject to these legal writings, understanding the legalese is painfully frustrating. We were asked by a fan of the show (in full disclosure, it was Greg’s sister-in-law Wendy) why lawyers can’t write in plain English. We pulled together a panel of four experts on legal communications and asked them just that. It turns out that writing in plain English is not only possible, but it is the preferred method of legal writing.
Our guests on this episode are:

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Information Inspirations

Greg got to drop in on a Houston Young Lawyer Association meeting for First-Generation Lawyers on the topic of lawyer recruiting. The meeting was great, but the biggest impact was made by a question a minority law student was asked on why his experience as a person of color would bring value to the firm. Is that something a firm should even be asking?

Marlene geeks out over Evan Parker’s article on How to Talk Data and Influence People, Including Lawyers. This dovetailed nicely with our guests’ discussion on presenting the information in a way that tells a story and presents information in a way that is understandable by the reader. Data analytics is just another method of communicating. The trick is communicating in a way that actually makes sense and informs.

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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.


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If there’s one thing that many of us need these days, it is a cybersecurity expert on retainer. Luckily, law professor Steve Black, visiting professor at the University of Houston fills that need. Prof. Black talks with us on a number of issues including what motivates hackers and cybercriminals (spoiler: it’s money), the dark web, how law firms and business approach information stored in the cloud, and what process automation means for data security.
Law firms might be a weak link in the eyes of cybercriminals when it comes to acquiring information. Professor Black discusses the different tactics cybercriminals use, the vulnerabilities found in law firms, and the actions that we need to take with our equipment, our network, our people, and our data. We guarantee that his discussion would be the highlight of any party.

Information Inspirations
While some still think of Millennials as the new kids in the workforce, that isn’t really true. In a recent white paper from Thomson Reuters titled, “Becoming the firm where millennials want to work,” the authors discuss the needs of a generation which is now the largest percentage in the workforce. Greg ponders the idea of there actually being two subsets within the generation of those in the workforce through the Great Recession and those who entered after the downturn. There is almost a decade of lawyers who have never actually experienced what it’s like to work during a recession.


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The social media platform Fishbowl is designed to create an anonymous but verified space for professionals to socialize with others in the same profession. CEO and co-founder Matt Sunbulli joins us this week to talk about FIshbowl’s entry into the legal industry social media space. It’s been about eight weeks, but there is already a large number of attorneys and other legal professionals using the platform to discuss issues ranging from what’s an appropriate salary range, to advice on lateral moves, to is it okay to vape in the workplace. The answer to that last one is a solid, NO!
Fishbowl creates an optional identification for its users which range from anonymized job title (Attorney, Partner, etc.), to “works at X law firm,” to full identification, based on the user’s needs on individual interactions. Because users have to sign up with their real names and be verified by your work email and LinkedIn profile, there’s a self-policing aspect to the platform. This seems to have tamped down the Troll factor you find on other platforms like Reddit. Because it allows for anonymity in the posts, users are more comfortable about asking questions to peers or others in more senior roles. It’s a very interesting concept of professional anonymity that brings us some very interesting conversations that we just don’t find on other professional networks like LinkedIn.

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Information Inspirations
The American Association of Law Libraries has allowed for full Open Access to the Law Library Journal and Spectrum magazine. The Open Access movement in professional journals and publications is something that has been occurring in academic circles, and once again, AALL is leading the way for other professional organizations to promote professional writing and promotion for its members.


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While we may have had a tough time pronouncing things correctly, this week’s guests said all the right things when it comes to being a leader within their organizations. Laura Toledo, Communications and Marketing Manager at Nilan Johnson Lewis PA in Minneapolis, and Kevin Iredell, Chief Marketing Officer at Lowenstein Sandler LLP in New York, discuss their year-long experience in the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute. Both are leaders within the Legal Marketing Association, which sponsored their attendance at the institute. While people in leadership positions may feel that they need to have all the answers, Toledo says that she learned it is okay to be patient and learn more about the situation before just going with her gut reaction. Iredell stressed that the key to being a great leader is making sure that you’ve given those who report to you all the tools and support they need in order to succeed. The Institute brings together leaders from different industries and helped both of our guests understand that the legal industry does not have a monopoly on stressful situations and the need for solid leadership. Take a listen, and learn more from their LMA article, “Leadership That Pays it forward.”

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Information Inspirations

Greg points to a recent TED talk article from Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic called “Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? And what can we do about it?” The article and video are about as harsh as the title implies. While Chamorrow-Premuzic takes liberties at the expense of men, pointing out that the traits of bad leaders skew toward men, the traits of a good leader do not have a gender bias. We have a tendency to value confidence over competence, narcissism over humility, and the belief that leaders can do anything rather than know their limitations. This inspiration dovetails nicely with our guests today.
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While we try to put out a Geek In Review podcast episode weekly, we average about 40 episodes a year, so the math tells us that we skip a week every month. Still, not too shabby if we say so ourselves.

We have a number of interviews and ideas lined up for 2020, but we wanted to take a quick look back one last time at 2019 and point out a list of episodes that were popular with our audience. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet, give it a try and let us know what you think.

Before we start the list, we wanted to thank all of our guests who have taken the time to talk with us and put up with the joys of building a garage band style podcast… and all the technical difficulties that entails. We’d also want to thank Jerry David DeCicca and Eve Searls for the music that you hear on the podcast.

Let’s jump into the ten most popular episodes:

Number One: The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

We have twelve stories from legal professionals and what they see as the benefits and detriments of working from non-traditional spaces.

Number Two: Data Science Superhero

Jennifer Roberts discusses her work as a Data Scientist in the legal field. She thinks that law firms are just scratching the surface when it comes to the value of data.
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The past ten years have been what University of Tennessee Law Professor Ben Barton calls “the lost decade” for law schools. In his new book, Fixing Law Schools: From Collapse to the Trump Bump and Beyond, Professor Barton walks us through the issues he sees with the current structure of legal education in the United States, and ways to actually fix it. The book focuses on three areas that need correction:
  1. The cost of legal education is simply too high, and cannot be maintained.
  2. Technology has to be leveraged within the educational curriculum to help future practicing attorneys to do more work, charge less, and make more money in the end.
  3. Regulations have to be focused on the outputs of legal education, and be given teeth so that students are more likely to succeed.
While the book title is about the lost decade of the 2010s, the root of the problem goes back well over a hundred years. Professor Barton talks with us about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go so that we really are Fixing Law Schools.

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Information Inspirations

We keep it short and sweet this week (mostly because neither of us has finished our holiday shopping.)
Wireframes are becoming less relevant — and that’s a good thing – In his Medium article, Sean Dexter argues that using wireframes is basically old school now, especially given the rise of Agile product development, and Lean UX processes. Today’s visualizations require more on-the-fly modifications which standard wireframes just don’t allow. Newer products like Think Sketch, Adobe XD, or Figma are the modern tools you might want to check out.


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The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org and we take a deep dive into the issues in this matter. Kyle Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard University, and Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase have strong opinions in this matter, and were both involved in submitting Amicus Briefs on behalf of Public.Resources.Org. Join us for this engaging and informative conversation as we look at what the arguments are from both sides, and how Justices’ questions may shape the outcome of this case.
For more information on this case, check out the oral argument transcript [PDF], or listen here, and a primer with supportive materials from Ed Waters’ on Medium.
We also catch up with Emily Feltren from the American Association of Law Libraries to hear what else has been going on in Washington, DC in regards to legal information (we skip the impeachment stuff.) Believe it or not, there are things actually getting done in DC despite all the obvious gridlock.

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Information Inspirations

Our very own Toby Brown is the inaugural guest on the new podcast, Pricing Matters. Toby is well known for his contribution to the establishing of pricing professionals within large law firms, and he gives us a peak behind the curtain of what he has accomplished over the past decade and a half. He even gives us a parallel story of how pricing issues resemble actions taken by HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines. Check it out!
KM Is Dead… Long Live KM. It turns out that if you want to be innovative in law firms, look no further than what your Knowledge Management team has been working on for some time now. There’s been a big boost lately in how KM is helping innovative law firms move forward with a 360 degree view of their knowledge, and better understanding their clients.
Sometimes we inspire ourselves. Greg recently read about an Australian law firm going through an identity crisis on whether it should see itself as a law firm, or as a professional services consultant on legal issues. The story line fits almost any company, industry, or organization where there is a paradigm shift in what they do. Check out his LinkedIn article where he reworks the story to fit nearly anyone facing change.
Is Data Science dying? Marlene says no. However, firms trying to implement data science techniques are finding that dirty data and antiquated ideas are limiting its results and driving data scientists away from working for them.

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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.


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We all love our pets and think of them as part of our families. Even though we might love them as much (or more) than we love people, the legal system does not allow them the same protection. That doesn’t mean that there are no rights for animals, in fact, there are many specific laws designated to protect them. In this episode of The Geek in Review, we bring on four experts in researching Animal Laws, not just in the US, but worldwide. We talk with the following members of the American Association of Law Libraries’ Animal Law Caucus:
  • Alex Zhang – Law Library Director and Professor of Practice at Washington and Lee University School of Law
  • Stacey Gordon Sterling -Law Library Director and Professor of law – Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana
  • Katie Ott – Reference Librarian – Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford University
  • Sarah Slinger – Reference Librarian and Lecturer at Law – University of Miami Law Library
Whether it is legal issues ranging from which parent gets the pet in a divorce, or how an orangutan is granted “personhood” in Argentina, to animal testing on cute beagles (yes… that’s still going on in the US), our experts from the Animal Law Caucus cover these issues and more.

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Information Inspirations
There is a lot of tech opportunities in America, but one of the unrealized places are on Native American Reservations. The Make Me Smart podcast talks with a Native Financial Officer about the upcoming Wiring the Rez conference.
One Texas Federal Judge asks if you submit a brief more than 10 pages long, that you make a recording so he can listen to it, rather than read it. Sounds like an opportunity for some talented legal podcasters with better voices than Greg.
Despite some of the best efforts to make things better, even allies can come up short when it comes to racial bias in the workplace. One leader in the Social Justice non-profit area shares her story, and it mirrors some of the same situations we see in the legal industry.
To understand Algorithmic Bias, you must first understand the different types of discrimination, and how they apply to the bias. It’s very complicated, but here’s a primer to get your started.


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