On this episode of The Geek in Review Podcast, we have a wonderful conversation with Steve Embry of the TechLaw Crossroads blog. Embry walked away from his AmLaw 200 partnership almost a year ago to follow his passion to become a full time legal blogger. He discusses how there is an art to storytelling, and as a lawyer, there are different ways to present those stories. Storytelling is a skill which needs to be honed, whether that is through legal blogging, or through leveraging technology to present your story in a courtroom environment. Embry’s passion in this new phase of his life is palatable throughout this interview and even inspires those of us who have been blogging for years to remember why it is we do it.

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Information Inspirations:

Ernst and Young is poised to swoop in and acquire Thomson Reuters’ managed legal services company, Pangea3. Marlene wonders what this means for the future of both the Big 4 entering the legal market, and what the future objectives of Thomson Reuters in the legal industry.
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On this episode of The Geek In Review, we talk with Joe Lawson, Deputy Director of the Harris County Law Library in Houston, Texas. With Harris County being the third largest county in the United States, there is a large number of attorneys, judges, and citizens who use the law library for various reasons. In 2018, there were over 24,000 filings of self-represented petitioners. That is a lot. Dallas County, by comparison, had 6,000 in the same time period. Lawson believes that there is a duty of the law library to help train lawyers, not to just be more efficient in their personal practices, but to help them have more capacity to help assist pro se litigants. Lawson’s calculation is that a 3% increase in capacity, through advancements in technology usage, could help eliminate a majority of the pro se issues in the county.

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Back from South By Southwest (SXSW)

Greg returned this week from SXSW and a trip to Northern California. Although the music was great, it was the educational sessions which took up most of his time in Austin. Panels on Gen Z, and the art of Storytelling where two of the topics that caught his attention.

INFORMATION INSPIRATIONS

Washburn Law School in Kansas allows their 3L students to finish their last year of law school actually working in the industry. In their “Third Year Anywhere” program, students receive first-hand experience working with mentor lawyers in one of six different areas. They complete their educational portion of the curriculum through online courses. Is this an outlier in legal education, or a potential trend for other schools to follow?
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It only took us 31 episodes, but Marlene decided that what the show lacked was a phone number for listeners to call in. So, we now have one, and we have a question for you to vote on.
“Should The Geek In Review create a video promo for upcoming episodes?” (Greg says he has the face for radio, so vote no… Marlene says it’s a great idea, so vote yes.
Call 713-487-7270 and leave your voicemail of “YES” or “NO” and what other ideas you may have for the show.

This week we have a great guest, Vishal Agnihotri, who recently returned from a world wide Legal Hackathon session, and she and her team (called the Femme LeGALs) created over 180 ideas and concepts. Besides idea generation at a phenomenal pace, Vishal is also the Chief Knowledge Officer at Hinshaw Culbertson in New York. She walks us through her journey through Knowledge Management and where she sees opportunities in law firm KM through data security.

Greg is spending the week in Austin at SXSW, and is live-blogging as much as he can here. Wish him luck, as he has taken to riding those electric scooters through the streets of Austin.

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On the 30th episode of The Geek In Review, we talk with Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian at the Chicago-Kent Law Library. Debbie was recently quoted in law.com’s “Where Are All the Women in Legal Tech?” So we cut right to the chase and ask that question to Debbie. She says that there are lots of women in legal tech, but that those putting on tech conferences need to take more action toward actively recruiting women for speaker and presenter opportunities. One profession where women are a majority, and are heavily involved in legal tech, is law librarians. The American Association of Law Libraries is approximately 75% women, and with the push toward knowledge management, analytics, competitive intelligence, and advancing the legal research and information tools, law librarians are an excellent resource when it comes to professionals in the legal tech market. Ginsberg also talks about the Women in Legal Tech Summit, held right before TechShow in Chicago. She mentions that there is an effort to expand the boundaries of women in legal tech beyond just women lawyers who are working in legal tech, and begin looking for other opportunities. Dovetailing nicely with that effort is Janders Dean, who is putting out a list of 180 highly qualified women speakers for legal tech on their Twitter page, and, Sarah Glassmeyer’s crowdsourcing list of underrepresented people in legal tech and innovation.

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INFORMATION INSPIRATIONS

Self-care isn’t selfish and can actually help your performance – Author Jenna Cho interviews one of Jackson Walker’s partners, Stephanie Sparks, who discusses how she was always waiting until the right time to take care of herself, and eventually realized that there was never a “right time” and she understood that she just had to make that time.  Cho’s article reminds us that we all need to take some time to listen to your body and mind, and remember that you can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself. 
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Not all Data Scientists wear lab coats to work. Intapp’s Jennifer Roberts wears a cape!

On the latest episode of The Geek in Review, Marlene and Greg dive into the wonderfully geeky world of data science and its application within law firms and the legal industry. Jennifer Roberts, Manager, Strategic Research at Intapp, discusses exactly what it means to be a data scientist, and why law firms are leveraging them to help run their legal operations. When it comes to “the business of law,” Roberts says this is where the results of data science steps in and shows its value. Data science can help answer questions like, “how can we predict the price of legal services?” “How can we predict the scope of a matter?” “How can we help with legal project management?” And even “how can we predict what a client’s needs are?” Or, “what will these clients buy from us in the future?” Data science and analytics help uncover the facts that not all lawyers and not all legal matters are totally unique. Roberts also helps us answer those naysayers who claim that they do not have enough data, or that they have Filthy Data™. Jennifer brings us some fantastic insights on how law firms are leveraging internal and external data sets to help with the practice of law, and the business of law.

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We finish our LegalWeek question of “how are you changing the legal industry” with our final four responses. This week we hear from:

Michael BoggiaLoopup
Damian JealHubshare
Kevin O’KeefeLexBlog
Martin GouletWolters Kluwer

Information Inspirations

For anyone following the happenings (and large fines resulting from) the EU’s GDPR, Marlene thinks perhaps this is something that may make its way across the pond. In a recent Corporate Counsel magazine article entitled, “Cisco’s Chief Legal Officer Expresses Support for American Version of GDPR” (subscription needed), Mark Chandler of Cisco supports the need for more regulation on privacy. We are already seeing versions pop up at the state level … we’re looking at you, California. But, it might take federal regulations to help clarify how we protect privacy online.


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“All Problems Are Communications Problems.”

This is Greg’s go to phrase when it comes to working with and leading others. Marlene actually beats Greg to the punch this week when they talk with this week’s guest, Heather Ritchie. Heather is the Chief Knowledge and Business Development Officer at Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP in Toronto, and as her title suggests, she wears multiple leadership hats at her firm. In her recent ILTA KM article, “12 Ways Marketing & Business Development Can Leverage Library & Knowledge Management Teams,” Ritchie walks us through the value of collaborating between the Marketing/Business Development, Knowledge Management, and Library operations of a law firm. Knowing who brings what talent to the table is key to creating stable and successful environment which results in wins for the law firm. 

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How Is Your Business Changing the Legal Industry?

In part two of our three part series, we hear from four more providers of legal industry products on how they are changing the industry. This week we hear from:

Information Inspirations:
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Vanderbilt Law School Professor, Cat Moon, doesn’t just have one of the coolest names in the legal industry, she also brings insights and a perspective on the human element of legal project management. Human centered design thinking is a core function of her teaching. It all goes back to the fact that you can teach law students, lawyers, and legal managers all the concepts in the world, but it’s all for naught if you leave out the human element. Professor Moon also gives a brutally honest view of why women in the legal field tend to leave law firms in order to pursue their creative and life passions outside the firms.

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Marlene and Greg are recently back from Legalweek in New York. While there, they went around to a number of vendors to ask a simple, but relevant question, “what are you doing to change the legal industry?” This week, we get the perspective of four vendors:

It is a fairly easy question, but one company that had a hard time answering? Thomson Reuters. It was a disappointing response from the company that probably has changed the industry more than any other. The marketing cuts that TR has taken for conferences was painfully apparent at Legalweek. One suggestion: if you’re going to cut the quantity of your representation at conferences, make sure you increase the quality of your presence.

Information Inspirations

James Goodnow interviews American Lawyer Editor Gina Passarella
Fennemore Craig, PC Managing Partner, James Goodnow asks AmLaw Editor Gina Passerella what she observed from the panels at Legalweek. Passerella notes that clients are craving data analytics, but that law firms are not producing them. Perhaps because it is not in the firm’s best interest to do so?? Greg isn’t sure that the full reason, but it needs to be a part of a conversation, which many clients and their firms simply are not having. All problems are communications problems. It’s easy to talk on a panel about what’s wrong… it’s tougher to have that conversation face to face. But that’s what needs to happen.
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On our 25th episode of The Geek In Review, Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert sit down and talk with Ivy Grey, Director of Business Strategy for WordRake. Ivy’s recent Above the Law article, “Curiosity Is The Foundation For Innovation” discusses the disconnect between employers who think they promote creativity in their employees (80% think they do), versus employees who think that their bosses actually stifle creativity in the workplace (some 60%.) Ivy breaks down the nuances between creativity and innovation. Innovation has become a buzzword that is actually having a negative effect in the workplace. Instead of trying to drive innovation, law firms should look at encouraging the creativity and curiosity of their employees (not to be limited to the lawyers, mind you.) Ivy points to law firms like Reed Smith, who are actually giving their attorneys and others (approved) time to come up with creative processes, and letting the employees build upon these ideas. The key is to allow people to think and be creative, and imagine possibilities that don’t even exist.

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On that note, we’d like to point out that Baker McKenzie announced the hiring of a couple of creative and curious rock stars, fellow geek, Casey Flaherty as their new Director of Legal Project Management, and Geek in Review interviewee Jae Um, as their Director of Pricing Strategy. That’s a shed load of creativity coming Baker McKinzie’s way. Hope they are ready for long memos filled with emojis!

Greg flew through Dallas Love Field this week during a Herb Kelleher celebration. Southwest’s original CEO was well known for creative marketing, and Greg was a little disappointed that he didn’t get a free bottle of Chivas when we got off the plane. For a great story of how Southwest got its start, check out the Business War’s Podcast on Clearing the Runway.

Information Inspirations

Microsoft Assistant General Counsel, Jason Barnwell, wrote a timely piece called “Bricklayers and Architects.” His own experiences on being able to come up with a creative process to streamline and M&A deal back when he was an associate at a BigLaw firm, dovetails nicely with Ivy Grey’s discussion. That great idea which would have saved a lot of time in creating the closing binders???  Stifled. Why? You probably already guessed it. The billable hour.
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With the partial government shutdown approaching one month, Marlene and Greg attempt to make some sense of what this means for those of us who rely upon the information produced by the US Government. On this episode, we have an extended talk with Emily Feltren, Director of Government Relations at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) to uncover what’s working and what’s shutdown. While the federal courts are still functioning, they are running on borrowed time, and are scheduled to run out of funds on January 25th. The Pew Research Center has listed a number of data sources which are not being updated during the shutdown. The OMB also has a list of agency shuddered at this time, and assume that the libraries are also closed. If you’re hoping to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request… good luck. Agencies my accept them, but they may not have anyone to process them. Basically, it’s a cluster-fudge right now in D.C.

Joel Lytle, Director of Information Security at Jackson Walker, talks with Greg about the issue of .gov sites which are unable to renew their security certificates during the shutdown. It may not be all that bad… for now. However, there are already reports that the shutdown of sites like donotcall.gov and identitytheft.gov are already having some effects on consumers.

Joel’s advice… trust but verify. If you have questions about the website, call your technology security team and have them take a look at it. This is their area of expertise, so reach out to them.

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Information Inspirations:

The law library world lost a legend this month with the passing of Eileen Searls. In addition to being an influencer in the law library world, she is also the aunt of Eve Searls, who along with Jerry David DiCicca, performs the music you hear on The Geek In Review.
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