“New Legal Tech Audit will scare lawyers into embracing technology.”

Financial Post

I read with interest that the “Suffolk-Flaherty Legal Tech Audit” went live last week.  This skills test or “audit” was created by Suffolk University Law School in partnership with Kia’s in-house counsel Casey Flaherty. The stated purpose of the audit is to assess “how well timekeepers and staff use basic law practice technology, such as word processing and spreadsheets, to complete commonly encountered legal tasks.”   Continue reading

 “Dentons has decided it will no longer report average profits per equity partner, and it hopes other law firms will do the same.”
 
ABA Journal, June 11, 2014

Kevin and I read with great interest the above report that Denton’s has decided to take a stand and will no longer report its average profits per equity partner (PPP), stating that the number is meaningless and has the potential to damage client relations.  Not surprisingly, American Lawyer editor-in-chief Kim Kleman stated that PPP is an important metric they will continue to track.

This story got us both to thinking about what are the metrics the legal profession should be tracking to gauge the health of the profession and of our overall legal system.  After diving into a discussion about PPP and its usefulness or lack thereof, our conversation turned (of all places) to global climate change. Continue reading

“I’m sad to see [our card catalog] go. This is truly the end of an era. But it is time to move on.”    

Paul Courant, University of MichiganDean of Libraries 

2-28-2010

At MetaJure, we often get asked “Where in your smart document management system is the document profile that our lawyers need to fill out?”  This question usually reminds me of a childhood friend whose dad told the story of his father’s reluctance to drive a car with one of the first automatic transmissions.  My friend’s grandfather believed that a car couldn’t’ possibly work if it didn’t have both a clutch pedal and a gear shifter.  What the grandfather didn’t realize was that technology had  significantly advanced and that there was a new, automated, more efficient way in which a car’s gears could be shifted. Continue reading

 
“Legal judgment, assessing actual risks, and problem solving are more often taught implicitly through legal practice in clinics, than explicitly as discrete skills.”
 
Deborah Maranville

As legal education attempts to implement an approach that systematically moves beyond issue spotting, we bump against the limits of both our knowledge and our curriculum. Consider the third and fourth tools in the Five Tool Lawyer framework:

Tool #3: “Use legal judgment to assess actual risks with spotted issues.”

Tool #4: “Problem solve for best way to meet client’s needs with minimal risk.”

How much do most lawyers know about how to “assess actual risks”? What does it mean to “use legal judgment” to perform that assessment? Continue reading

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Bill Gates

Last November, I was asked by Justice Charlie Wiggins of the Washington State Supreme Court to give a talk at the Centennial Celebration of the Washington State Temple of Justice.  The topic Justice Wiggins asked me to address was “100 Years of Legal Technology — Looking Back and Looking Forward.”   Continue reading

“Law practice is also, at heart, a personal-service industry. Nobody talks about disrupting the massage industry — at least not that I have ever heard of.”
 
Sam Glover

I was intrigued by Sam Glover’s recent post on the Lawyerist wherein he argues “The business of disrupting law practice is a crowded field of solutions looking for problems.”  While you can debate whether or not legal services are subject to disruption (and for some, I suppose, whether disruption is needed), I was primarily intrigued by Sam’s statement quoted above that law is at heart a personal service industry. His remark got me thinking about the delivery of legal services in the 21st century and whether this observation is 100% accurate.

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False Dichotomy “A situation in which limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.”

I keep hearing that one of the main problems with legal services is your typical lawyer’s proclivity to spot issues rather than solve problems.  Paul Lippe has even called issue spotting “Innovation Enemy No. 1.”  As law schools around the country look at revising their curriculums, there is a lot of pressure to de-emphasize issue spotting in favor of problem solving.  One law school has even gone so far as to say its mission is to create problem solvers, and in support of that mission, has established a Center for Creative Problem Solving.

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 Legal Malpractice: “The failure to render professional services with the skill, prudence, and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would use under similar circumstances” 

As we all know, the practice of law is a standards of practice driven profession with your work being judged by whether you have exercised the skill, prudence and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would under the circumstances.  If you could plot on a graph all lawyers’ approaches to handling a given legal issue, it would most likely look like the bell curve shown below.

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BloggBloggBloggNever underestimate the resistance to change from lawyers. Even more likely, never underestimate the ability of lawyers to describe virtual status quo efforts as revolutionary change.”

Stephen Poor, Chairman Seyfarth Shaw

Lawyers and law firms have a well-deserved reputation for resisting change and failing to embrace innovation.  Is there something about us, our training or our profession that makes us resisters of change and advocates of the status quo?  If so, is this good or bad for our businesses, the profession and the legal system?  Or is it a mix of both? Continue reading

“Artisan — a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods.”

Dictionary.com

Early in my practice, I found myself in need of a generic clause for use in a contract and reached out to my colleagues for samples.  While grateful for the many responses, I was astonished at the diversity of language for addressing what was a pretty straightforward task.

While several of the samples clearly came from the same “parent”, no two clauses were exactly alike.  In discussing this observation with colleagues, the conversation quickly turned to each colleague promoting the merits of their particular clause.  Continue reading