Three law school innovators, three law firm innovators, a law student, and a BigLaw Partner meet on a podcast… this podcast… and share thoughts on how to improve law students’ tech skills before they arrive at the firm. That is the setting for this episode of The Geek in Review.
Nikki Shaver, Director of Innovation and Knowledge from Paul Hastings got this conversation started on Twitter when she discovered that most of the New Fall Associates (NFAs) did not take any technology or innovation courses while in law school. This is not an uncommon story. There seems to be little incentive, either on the law school, or law firm side of recruiting which stresses tech competencies. But just because that’s the way it has always been, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. There is definitely room for improvement! So we wanted to get a group together and do just that.

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We asked Vanderbilt Law School’s Cat Moon, Vermont Law School’s Jeannette Eicks, and University of Oklahoma Law School’s Kenton Brice to cover the law school innovation perspective.
Nikki Shaver, Marlene, and Greg cover the law firm innovation perspective.
We also asked Jackson Walker Partner Matt Acosta, and Michigan State University Law School student, Kanza Khan to jump in and share their experiences with the expectations for legal technology skills.
We take a deep dive into the topic ranging from what law schools are actually offering students, what are law firms expectations for tech skills, and are law firm recruiting, and law school placement incentivizing students to be more proficient with tech before they arrive as NFAs?


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Makerspaces are becoming very popular in libraries, and today we talk with two librarians who are ready to bring the collaborative thinking and working spaces into the law school library environment. Ashley Matthews is at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Sharon Bradley is at the University of Georgia School of Law. Both believe there is a great benefit in carving out spaces within the law school library to allow students and faculty the ability to tinker and experiment with their creative sides, and potentially come up with the next big idea in the legal market.

Matthews recently wrote an article on makerspaces entitled “Teaching Students to ‘Tech Like a Lawyer’.” While some of us may see ‘tech like a lawyer’ as a way to stop technology, Matthews and Bradley think that the law school library environment can be the perfect place to teach law students the analytical skills they’ll need in their practice to truly understand how a legal issue can benefit from technology, and how to issue spot, reason, analyze, and resolve legal issues more effectively with technology.

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Information Inspirations

The Dangers of Categorical Thinking

The human mind is build to categorize the things we see and do in the world. It just helps us make sense of the world, whether it’s the fight or flight between seeing a stick and a snake, or the business decisions we make in selecting the perfect candidate out of a pool of ten qualified applicants. We group the hard skills and the soft skills. In this Harvard Business Review article, the authors warns not to be so caught up in the larger categorical picture, and lose sight of the details and nuances that really make the difference in the end.
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While we could talk all day with the husband and wife team of Andie Kramer and Al Harris about being BigLaw Partners, it is their work on women’s conflicts and bias in the workplace which brings them on the show today. Andie and Al recently released their second book, It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace: Women’s Conflict at Work and the Bias That Built It. And we jump in with both feet to discuss how the workplace environment, even at law firms (or maybe, especially at law firms), is designed to place women in adversarial roles against one another. Andie and Al have mentored women, conducted speaking consultations, and have written books on the subject of gender communications for over 30 years. Because they bring both the female and male perspectives into this very difficult conversation, they pack a one-two punch for their audiences and definitely grab their attention. When we asked Al Harris how important it was for him to bring in men into this conversation, his answer was, “in a word… VERY!”
We take a deep dive into the issue of gender bias in the workplace, and the environment which contributes to that very bias. You can learn more about Andie Kramer and Al Harris, including a question guide to their books, at their website, andieandal.com. Definitely check out the website after you listen to this week’s interview!

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What Does Your Family Think You Do??
We have one more story this week about a family member who thinks that being a library manager is a glorified file clerk job. We imagined that Thanksgiving that year was a little awkward. If you have a story to share, leave us a message at 713-487-7270 or email us your story at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com.

Information Inspirations

Come on men… it’s 2019!!
The Pence Rule of a man not being alone with a woman in the workplace, or attending a social event with alcohol without having a man’s wife present is affecting work environments, including law firms. American Lawyer senior columnist, Vivia Chen’s article, #MeToo Backlash Is Not Going Away, shows how men are less likely to work in one-on-one situations with women at a higher rate in 2019, than in 2016. This is having a significant effect on the ability for women to have equal access to opportunities and advancement. Vivia puts it best when she says “Considering it’s 2019, it’s frick’n unbelievable.” We couldn’t agree more.


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Andre Davison was literally a sixteen year old student when he began his career in law firm libraries. Now the Research Technology Manager at Blank Rome’s Houston office, Andre has taken a leadership role both within his firm with technology and diversity programs, and has been rewarded for his efforts with multiple awards. Andre was awarded his firm’s Nathaniel R. Jones Diversity Award for his diversity efforts, and he was the American Association of Law Libraries’ Innovation Tournament winner for his Seamless Access to Secondary Sources (SASS) which enabled lawyers and others at his firm to dive into the portions of research materials directly, and without having to worry about usernames, passwords, or client numbers. Previous TGIR interviewee, David Whelan, has a great summary of his experiences as a judge for the AALL Innovation Tournament.

Andre’s work expands past his award winning efforts at his firm, and he has taken on leadership roles on the local level with the Houston Area Law Libraries (HALL) as the current President. The local chapters are a wealth of professional development, and local community efforts which he says brings a family-like environment to him and his peers.

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How does your family describe what you do?

Speaking of family, we share stories of how our families describe to others what we do for work. As might be expected, it doesn’t always match the reality of the situation. Greg thinks that it might have been easier on his family if he worked at Walmart. We’d love to get more stories to put on the show of what it is that your family members think you do. Leave us a voicemail at 713-487-7270 or email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com and share your story!

Information Inspirations

How Should Law Schools Adjust for Gen Z?


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Welcome to the 50th Episode of the Geek in Review!!

American Lawyer Media Reporter, Dylan Jackson, joins us this week to discuss two of his recent articles which focused on the mental health of law firm staff, as well as the persistent caste system which still exists in the large law firm environment. Jackson talked with a number of people within law firms regarding how firms view the mental health of staffers, what firms are doing (or not doing) to address the issues, as well as how firms value their staff’s contribution to the success of the firm. While the days of having a chair tossed at you by a partner might have faded in the past couple of decades, the stress placed on staff to handle more work, and to take on much more strategic missions for the law firm has significantly increased over the past ten years. Jackson found that it is still difficult for even the most senior of staff to get a seat at the table within the law firm, and that old barriers still exist to separate lawyers from the professional staff. In the end, these professionals need to be recognized for their contribution, and they want to be treated with respect.

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Information Inspirations

The Dark Side of Personality Tests

Many law firms are conducting personality assessments on their lawyers and staff. The idea is that if we better understood each other’s personalities, we can communicate better. Author Quinisha Jackson-Wright points out in a New York Times piece a significant flaw in personality tests when other use it to “fix” the other person, rather than adapt their own behavior. It’s important that workers don’t feel like they are being “outed” by being a certain personality type. (Plus some extra reading)
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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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