“When you let people participate in the design process, you find that they often have ingenious ideas about what would really help them. And it’s not a onetime thing; it’s an iterative process.”

Melinda Gates

A number of readers of my last post asked me: “What exactly makes a product’s design human or user focused?” Simply stated, it is understanding from the user’s perspective the task that needs to be accomplished and then building a product or service that helps them accomplish that task faster and easier, but in a way that is natural and intuitive for the user.  While it may sound simple, it is often the hardest part of product development.  Continue reading

“We don’t need different software, what we need is more lawyer discipline…”

Anonymous law firm IT Director

There is undoubtedly no end of reasons why a technology product fails, but the one that most often jumps out at me is when the product’s creators (or the persons making the purchasing decision) fail to understand their users. This is especially true when it comes to legal technology as lawyers tend to be far more reticent in changing their ways and behavior than almost all other professionals. Continue reading

“[Legal Services’] intrinsic growth rate more or less tracks global GDP growth…”

Bruce MacEwen

I recently read Bruce MacEwen’s book “Growth is Dead: Now What?”  Bruce’s fundamental premise is that the legal profession has excess capacity, which when coupled with stagnant demand and client pricing pressures, will lead to many law firms finding themselves “relatively marginalized and, yes, irrelevant.” Granted, Bruce’s focus is “Big Law,” but is this true for all lawyers let alone for Big Law? Are legal services in today’s world a zero sum game with all lawyers and firms fighting over a fixed or barely growing market for their services?

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“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

“End of the road.  Nothing to do, and no hope of things getting better.”


In connection with my meeting with a group of lawyers to discuss the future of the profession, a survey of sorts was undertaken to help gather the thoughts of the various committee members.  Without getting into the specifics of the discussion, the top ten words or themes coming out of the survey were all negative — including words like “problems”, “barriers”, “increased competition”, “concerns”, “challenges”, “pitfalls”  and “loss”.  I don’t know why, but the first words out of my mouth were “Who interviewed Eeyore?” Continue reading

“The legal tech space has become explosive. Investors are pouring millions into legal innovation as founders excitedly plan to disrupt the legal space.”

The Lawyerist, June 25, 2014

It goes without saying that over the course of the past 12-24 months, a lot of attention has been focused (at least amongst lawyers) on the increasing amount of investment capital going to fund legal technology startups.  The Lawyerist reported last week that there are 101 legal startups and that funding of legal startups in just the first 5 months of 2014 is estimated to be in the range of $77M.  Tech Cocktail reported in February of this year that $458M was invested in legal technology startups in 2013, which was a huge increase over the $66M invested in 2012.

Clearly something is afoot.  The question for practicing lawyers is whether these newly funded companies are working to lessen the role of lawyers in society, supplement the role of lawyers in society, and/or provide lawyers with the tools desperately needed to improve their practices, increase their efficiencies and lower their costs of services?   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

“Can we as a profession reclaim a sense of family and community, and along with it, improve our destiny?”

Marty Smith’s remarks in 2007 at the Shidler Center for Law Commerce and Technology

Seven years ago, I had the opportunity to give a talk at the University of Washington Law School in connection with the Sharon Nelson Leadership Award, given out by the school’s Shidler Center for Law, Commerce and Technology.  The title of my remarks was “Re-Creating a Sense of Family and Community in the Practice of Law”. In the course of my talk, I covered what I saw at the time as the fundamental challenge facing the soul and spirit of the legal profession, namely, a loss of a sense of family and community in our profession, our law firms and legal departments. I further hypothesized that this loss was spilling over into the personal lives of our lawyers and their immediate families in very negative ways.

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“The Grand Challenges serve as a ‘North Star’ for collaboration…” 
 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

The Problem: Our legal system and profession are in tumultuous times, with the decade ahead undoubtedly an inflection point of change for practicing lawyers, judges, law school deans and professors, law students as well as the lives of those utilizing or in need of access to legal services. The factors driving this change are becoming ever more difficult to ignore: 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 


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