Law Firm Technology

Ep 93 – Legal Tech, Podcasts, and the Future Proof Law Firm

We talk haunted law firms, technology competence, startups, podcasting, and more with The Podfather himself, Bob Ambrogi.








How Can Lawyers Guarantee They’ve Reached the Required Level of  Technical Competence (Yes We Are Asking Seriously)?

Today’s Hot Take comes to us from,” OK, We Get Technology Competence, But How Do We Get Technologically Competent?” by Robert Ambrogi. In it, he writes:

“By now, you’ve probably heard of the duty of technology competence. As more and more states adopt it, more and more articles get written about it, and more and more CLEs get presented about it. But the focus of all this is largely on the nature and scope of the duty. One aspect we hear little about is how lawyers can get and remain technologically competent.”

So now that 37 state bars have adopted a tech competence aspect to the model rules for lawyers, how can lawyers guarantee that they’ve reached the required level?

A new tech certificate from Suffolk Law with an online course is an answer maybe – schools adopting tech indexes tracking how firms are adopting tech, prototyping tech courses in schools, and people like  Michele DeStefano with EvolveTheLaw prove that there is no shortage of ideas here.

“We distinguish between the study of legal-service delivery innovation and technology , on the one hand, and the study of law where it intersects with technology (i.e., law applied to technology, what we call ‘law and [technology]’ courses), on the other hand.”

Tech for work – tech for life – tech for calendar – tech for marketing – tech for clients – the end result isn’t being able to use all the tech, but to adapt and enhance your problem solving toolkit to include tech and innovation – knowing it’s possible…..competence is the point, and seems like Bob feels the same way.

This article is encouraging. We have heard the “lawyers are slow to adapt” lament from various sources, but there seems to be little to no follow-up with regards to solutions. While certifications may not be the end-all method, at least it is a starting point – in the digital marketing /internet arena, there are many certificates that both address a minimum competency level as well as ensure people are up to date by requiring recertification. It’s a good model, and if it gets some credibility and or endorsement from larger organizations/legal providers / schools it’s a great foundation to build on.

To quote Daniel Linna Director of The Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law:

“We should be teaching lawyers about the business of law, process management, how to use data, and how to be entrepreneurial,” “We want to give law schools a roadmap for how to do this.”

Who’s the Cat That Won’t Cop Out When There’s Danger All About?

Who’s the lawyer, consultant, author, podcaster, covering the intersection between legal and tech for well over 20 years? Besides multiple books, award-winning podcasts, and prominent blogs, who makes appearances at legal tech events the world over? Who’s been an editor, a fellow, a president, a founder, and who’s been recognized as one of the law’s smartest, and most courageous innovators? We are of course speaking of the PodFather himself, Mr. Bob Ambrogi, who was generous enough to join us on the show today, for which we are truly honored and can now cross one of the top items off the podcast bucket list.

Learn more about Bob Ambrogi HERE

Get More Information About Technical Competence, Tech Innovation for Law Firms and Being A Podcasting Badass

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for information and conversation about legal tech competence, tech innovation and the ABA Tech show as well as some amazing commentary from an epic guest.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 90 – FrankenFirm: Piecing Together Innovation & Legal Tech

We talk legal innovation, tech adaptation, and how lawyers are piecing together solutions, and then we chat with lawyer, consultant, and legal tech mad scientist Jess Birken.







As Seen On:

“Halloween-Themed Legal Tech Podcast in Case That’s Exactly What You Need for The Holiday”

Legal Innovation in Tech: Why, How and What For?

Today’s Hot Take is from “Innovation In Legal Services: A Pipe Dream Or A Necessity?” by favorite of the show Nicole Black.  This is her write up of  a book by Michele DeStefano, author and Professor of Law at the University of Miami, “Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in the Law,” She writes:

“These days there’s a lot of talk about innovation in the legal profession. Debates abound on whether the legal industry is immune from the disruptive influences of technology. Legal futurists and their ilk assert that the answer is a resounding “no;” the practice of law is already undergoing a dramatic transformation. Meanwhile, many lawyers steadfastly disagree, all the while digging in their heels and practicing law as they’ve always done, insisting that analytical thought and legal guidance simply can’t be replaced by machines.”

We’ve had Michele on the show and she discussed innovating and solving problems in innovative ways at a law firm. But there’s also problems – from Michele’s workshop description:

“We give the teams big crates… full of tools — things to play with during our exercise (e.g., LEGOs, crayons, and spaghetti). And we play. We play with markers and crayons because it inspires us. We play music because it moves us. We play improvisation games because they change us. And we laugh hard.”

Nicole writes,” In all honesty, this entire scenario sounds horribly uncomfortable to me. I can’t imagine interacting in this way with my professional colleagues, and I’m not sure I’d even enjoy this type of activity on my own time with family or friends. And I can’t imagine that most of my lawyer colleagues would feel any different.”

So my take is, and what we find out later with Jess, is the desire to want to adopt the small fixes that will get you to the goal, is more important than the tech – a resilience and a willing to test and sew together different solutions towards a bigger goal.

Hack Your Practice

Jess Birken is the owner of Birken Law Office, where she helps nonprofits solve problems so they can quit worrying and get back to the mission. She got her JD from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, got her Masters in Nonprofit Management from there as well – she has a Bachelors in Sociology she’s a Certified Transformative Mediator and so she’s probably reading our minds right now….with a track record that impressive and a Twitter presence impressiver, we’re so thankful that Jess is haunting our hallways on this very special episode of LAWsome.

Learn more about Jess Birken HERE.

Get More Information About Innovation, Management and Tech for Law Firms

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for information and conversation about innovation, finding tech solutions for your law firm – and how to implement them the right way – and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—





Ep 88- Data Security in the Law Firm

We’re talking cyber security, ransomware, and data recovery with an article from Above The Law, and then we are joined by the cyber security good guys Nathan Little and Christopher Gerg of Gillware.








Data Security & Cyber Security In Law Firms: How Good Is It?

Today’s Hot Take comes to us from AboveTheLaw, “Lawyers And Cybersecurity In 2019: How Does Your Firm Compare?” by Nicole Black, who is awesome. She writes:

“In 2019, cybersecurity is an issue that is — or should be — on the minds of lawyers in firms big and small. This is because lawyers have an ethical obligation to preserve the confidentiality of client information. And as lawyers increasingly move their data into digital format, that obligation necessarily shifts to the firm’s data stored online.”

According to the most recent ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, the types of security measures used vary greatly from firm to firm. Ideally, effective network and data security should include the following at minimum:

Password-protect all devices
Physical protections for firm hardware
Password managers
Secure computing in the cloud
Security assessments

“How does your law firm compare? Are you doing everything that you can — and should — be doing to secure your law firm’s data and systems? If not, there’s no better time than now to increase your firm’s security by performing a security audit and establishing additional security procedures for your firm.”

The Cyber Security Good Guys

Gillware offers digital forensics, incident response, and ediscovery to businesses ranging from large to small, as well as law firms across the country.

Nathan Little is the VP of Digital Forensics & Incident Response – Nathan joined as an engineer writing custom software, and has since helped to develop Gillware’s proprietary data recovery tools.

Christopher Gerg is VP of Cyber Risk Management, and a technical lead with over 15 years of information security experience. Chris has worked in numerous roles building, testing and breaking into information architecture at high-level corporations, he’s also authored the book “Managing Network Security with Snort and IDS Tools”

And if all that wasn’t enough – Chris and Nathan have decided to break into our podcast, give us their data, and record this interview.

Learn More About Gillware HERE

Get More Information About Law Firm Data Security, Network Protection, CyberSecurity For Law Firms and  More

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for information and conversation about keeping your online data safe, keeping your office free from cybercriminals and ensuring your law firm doesn’t get snagged by the latest ransomware because Chip in the research department opens every email attachment he gets no matter how many times you talk to him about not doing that.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 84 – Expert Testimony & Trial Marketing

We talk about the love/hate relationship lawyers and expert witnesses have with an article from the ABA and then we talk about accident reconstruction, forensic engineering, and expert trial prep, with Justin Holderness from Kineticorp.








The Love/Hate Relationship Lawyers Have With Experts

Today’s Hot Take is from the “Expert Witnesses – You Can’t’ Try a Big Case Without Them, and You Can’t Kill Them,” by Ross Laguzza. Ross writes:

“Do you love your experts? Not me. I don’t like them. Not even a little. Why not? First, this is nothing personal. I have met and worked with many expert witnesses over the years and have found some to be quite personable and fascinating people. Yet, as necessary a part of litigation as they are, I find them to be a burden. Here are a few of my top reasons why, and tips to help mitigate them.

Jurors Don’t Care about Experts
Experts Forget Who Their Audience Is
Experts Are Often a Bit Less Than Scintillating
Experts Can Be Introverts
Trial Lawyers Over-Identify with the Experts”

Paul: I really like this – “During practice question-and-answer sessions, it’s like a non-player listening to two experienced gamers talking about Dungeons & Dragons. The gamers know what they are talking about, but the rest of us will be left in the dark if somebody doesn’t intervene. That somebody often is somebody like me, but it can be anyone on your team tasked with making sure you don’t forget your audience.”

Jake – Paul likes to say that poker isn’t a card game played by people it’s a people game played through cards – It’s all about humans interpreting humans – the roles of experts in trials and even well-before the case gets to court, is to help lawyers and jurors and judges to perceive the problem better – it’s all about narrative and sometimes it’s best to have someone else do the heavy lifting in convincing.

“The most important thing is not to assume that just because someone is a credentialed expert or has had successful testifying experiences that person will be effective in your case. I find that there is no shortcut. You have to start at the beginning in each case and help the witness craft his or her message and develop effective communication strategies.”

Forensic Visualization, Accident Reconstruction and the Strength of Conclusions in the Face of Cross-Examination

Justin Holderness is the Director of Expert Relations at Kineticorp, an accident reconstruction firm based out of Denver. After receiving his Bachelors in Business from Northern Arizona University, Justin established his career in legal marketing with Network Affiliates, a nationally recognized ad agency that represents personal injury law firms. Justin is an avid blogger, content creator and speaker and brings all that, and a bag of crisps to the LAWsome podcast today

Learn more about Justin Holderness and Kineticorp HERE

Get More Information About Forensic Investigation, Accident Reconstruction & Animation and Trial Preparation for Lawyers

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for information and conversation about accident reconstruction, the proper preparation and utilization of experts as well as a side road off into the land of legal marketing.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—




Ep 79 – The DIY Law Firm

Why Legal Tech Remains the Domain of the Legal Elite, where the opportunities are for those who are making them, and then a talk with lawyer, marketer and legal tech DIYer, Justie Nicol.






Who Is Legal Tech Actually For?

Today’s Hot Take is from, “The Reason Why Legal Tech Remains the Domain of the Legal Elite: It’s All About The Money,” by Carolyn Elefant. It’s a response/comment on an article by PodFather Bob Ambrogi, where he points out that most of the legal tech currently being developed is aimed at big law. She writes:

“Bob expressed disappointment that last week’s Legal Week and Inspire.Legal conferences both focused on technology and innovation primarily at big law to the exclusion of notably “the roughly 90 percent of lawyers who practice outside the large firm/large corporation ecosystem” as well as “those the legal system is failing.” Spoiler alert: no surprise here. The truth is that if you want to find the big money, you find it at big law.

— The buffet of solutions for 10% of big firm market, while 80% of the market get’s nothing or has to pay out the nose for it? Courage to run a solo law firm – the ability to switch into a new plan – new strategies – new tech – at scale, at larger firms it just does not work – so most folks are left listening to self-help podcasts and accepting the information to apply to their unique problems –

Bob’s post about the recent legal tech conference and its echo chamber is spot on – the question is, will things ever change? Technology alone hasn’t been enough – so far – to make a dent in the A2J problem – though to be fair, technology has made solo and small firm practice more viable and opened the doors for women by giving them more options for work/life balance. Yet at the end of the day, history has shown that time and again, money and power can buy justice. Tech alone isn’t going to change the course of history unless we change our priorities.

Make It Yourself, Or Make Do Without

Justie Nicol is a feisty, nerdy, dog & toddler mom with a variety of legal experience who’s actually a person (human first, then attorney) helping her clients seek the legal advice they deserve. Justie got her JD from University of Denver, worked as deputy district attorney in the 18th judicial district, is founder and co-owner of the Nickle Gersh Law Firm, a criminal law firm based out of Colorado, she’s a fantastic follow on Twitter and friend of the pod and we’re delighted to have here her today.

Learn more about Justie Nicol HERE

Get More Information About Law Firm Management, DIY Tech for Lawyers

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for information and conversation about making what you need yourself (it’s easier than you think!), business development, law firm growth and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—



Ep 65 – Legal Upheaval

Buzzword-laden legal tech articles that miss the point, and a chat with Michele Destefano that hits every point! What does it take to innovate, understand, and upheave the legal services industry?







Is Your Law Firm On The Blockchain Yet?

There are two articles we discuss in today’s Hot Take, both dealing with the idea of “new tech” for law firms:
Three Technologies Transforming the Legal Field By Bruce Orcutt – Is your law firm using analytics, OCR, or blockchain yet? A fine leap from text analysis of PDFs to blockchain – which is confused here with automation of smart contracts….Bruce is a product marketer for ABBYY, which is a legal tech vendor.
NewLaw New Rules: A Conversation About the Future of the Legal Services Industry By Brett Chalmers – talking about this new law lingo – but he is ALSO a product marketer for a company that does data management for law firms.

The thought here is – and it echos Paul’s thoughts about ABA TechShow in February, which is that there are a lot of people making things that not many people need or will use. We’re not getting down on legal tech or the ABA or anything, but the very real issue is that if you make a product that serves few people, you will cap your market and that’s it. Or as Greg Garman from LawClerkLegal said on our show – “more folks on a small slice of a pie that needs big, fundamental change”

Unfortunately the fallout from a lot of this misguided dev work, earnest or well intentioned as some of it may be – is these tech vendors who just barnacle themselves onto existing paradigms, and aren’t pushing for a full change, or even any change at all beyond “help us move a couple more units.” You can see it at these software companies, none of which do ANYTHING with blockchain, or at least, we can’t see that touted on their site…. as we discuss later with Michelle, innovation isn’t a quick fix otr a one-size-fits-all solution. Not saying it has to be difficult and drawn out in every situation, but there is a difference between pushing for breakthroughs as opposed to trying to force the latest shiny object on your office staff.

Moving Lawyers, Moving Law

Recognized by the ABA as a Legal Rebel, Michele Destefano is a professor of law at the University of Miami, Guest Faculty at Harvard Law School, and the founder of LawWithoutWalls, a multi-disciplinary, international think-tank of over 1000 lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, and law and business students that collaborate to hone new skill sets and mindsets and create innovations at the intersection of law, business, and technology.

Her new bestselling book, Legal Upheaval – focuses on collaboration and innovation in the law – and it’s this book and her amazing work on social media and within legal tech that brought her to the attention of the show, and we couldn’t be more honored to have Michele on LAWsome today.

“There may be no “i” in team, but there’s two “i’s” in innovation.”

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Michele about having an “aha moment” and how learning how to find problems is more important in some cases than learning how to solve problems, which most lawyers are already good at: 

Jake: …I’m curious, when you say that the law firm owners or the practicing lawyers were the ones that got the most out of it, meaning in a business sense or a problem-solving sense or just like a different way? You know, we talked about an “aha moment” before. I mean, can you see like a light bulb go on over these people and, you know, they suddenly realize there’s a different way to think about practicing law or…? I’m just interested what you were leaning towards there?

Michele: Yeah, so probably, I would say two things. First, it’s not about problem solving. Because we teach lawyers how to problem solve, and research shows that lawyers are off the charts great at complex problem solving. What we aren’t as strong at is problems finding. So Tina Seelig and Daniel Pink, both authors who I admire and read everything they write, both of them talk about how the best problem solvers are the best problem finders. And what problem finders do is they spend more time on the problem up front, so that they don’t end up solving a symptom or rushing to solve and missing the mark. So they ask more questions. And it’s not that lawyers aren’t inquisitive. But in LawWithoutWalls, you learn how to do the 5 Whys, and you learn how to sit back and problem find for a lot longer, almost so long that you’re uncomfortable. And that is the difference.

Lots and lots of law firm partners will say to me at the end of it, that their team back at their firm, not the LawWithoutWalls team they’re working with, but their team back at the firm will say, “Oh, my gosh, what have you done with Craig?” Meaning, not “I’ve disappeared with this team,” but, “I approach meetings differently. I approach how I lead differently. I approach teaming and collaboration differently. And most importantly, I approach collaborative problem solving differently.” And it’s that, yeah, different approach that makes the difference and is the aha moment.

Jake: I’m having a little bit more of an aha moment, maybe a side dish, to the aha entrée. The Promethean kind of idea of going and getting the fire and bringing the fire of knowledge back to your tribe. You know, there is this egoic plucking of the string that doesn’t really comport with the actual work that needs to get done. And, I think, a lot of people quest for self-betterment and mastery to make themselves better and not a law firm and not a model and not for their people.

And it seems like this project is helping because there’s people who are hustling, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, you know, all these people, you know, “You gotta hustle. You gotta lead. You know, you gotta be a general,” you know, and all these things. But it’s actually not that. The real work, the real innovation is not this leading military strategic thing. It’s actually this collaborative, working together, finding problems. And I just think for some people who are questing for mastery, how do you help break their ego from it…do you deal with that?

Michelle: Yes.

Jake: Is this ancillary aha thing or what?

Michele: Well, I mean, so Chris Avery wrote this book years ago, 15 years ago. And I mean, the title, it’s one of those situations where, “Yes, it’s a great book. Yet the title says it all. And his title is, “Teamwork is An Individual Skill.” And this is something that people often forget. And we have to work on ourselves first. So we talk a lot in LawWithoutWalls about the fact that there may be no “i” in team, but there’s two “i’s” in innovation.

And those two “i’s” are one, the identity of the lawyer as a lawyer. And how immediately when we put our little lawyer robe on, we act a little bit differently and perform to that role. I mean, granted, it’s true. Oftentimes, lawyers are the most educated people in the room in terms of the number of years that they’ve been in school. So there’s this lawyerly role. And then the other “i” is the lawyer as the individual.

And Carlos Valdes-Dapena, in his recent book, “Lessons from Mars.” And he doesn’t mean like out of this world. He means the candy bar company, although I’m sure they don’t want to be called the candy bar company, because they do a lot more candy bars.

Jake: Sure, sure, sure.

Michele: Anyway, he talks about this as well. And he talks about how this other “i” is the individual. Look, we’re all born to only focus on ourselves, right? If you’ve ever played with any three-year-olds or four-year-olds, it’s, “Me, me, me, me, me.” And so you take the combination of the lawyer identity and our role and that individual intrinsic motivation that’s just natural to self-preservation, and we’ve got some problems. And so we actually, everybody at our kickoff, we talk about the lawyer’s mindset, the lawyer’s temperament, and the lawyer’s training and how that, actually, creates two crutches for us and prevents us from being collaborative. And so we try to break down that I at the same time recognizing that if you’re not gonna commit as an individual to working on your own issues with collaboration, we’re not going to get anywhere.

So we try really hard to strip that ego down. So I mean, and there’s tons of…if you think about training programs, where you go to them to become a better leader or become a better mentor, or whatever it may be, and it’s a week and you get inspired, and maybe you leave home with a couple things. But after another week goes by, and then another week goes by, another week goes by, how much do you really keep a hold of in terms of change?

Get More Information About Innovation for Law Firms

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about innovation for law firms, finding and solving problems and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 62 – Making Legal Writing More Betterer

On the show today, we rundown the grammar with an article from the ABA and then we talk about plain language, legal writing and finding enthusiasm in your writing tasks with the creator of BriefCatch, Ross Guberman.

writing for lawyers








Guess What – Law Is Not Creative Writing…

…but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative.  Today’s Hot Take is an article called, “The Move Toward Plain Language” by  Cynthia Adams.  Interestingly enough it turns out it was the government that made the initial push for clarity in legal writing, and still continues to be a driving force, encouraging those in the legal profession to be clear and use plain language that can be understood by non-legal readers.  She writes:

“Clarity, conciseness, and precision are the hallmarks of writing excellence. But for centuries drafters of laws, litigation documents, and contracts have aimed for precision with little regard for whether the writing was clear or concise. This “traditional style” of legal writing is notorious for its unnecessarily complex words, legal jargon, and convoluted sentences that can obscure meaning and create ambiguity. Laypeople have often criticized or ridiculed this style of writing, finding it difficult to read and comprehend. And many jurists have agreed. Judge Learned Hand once stated, “The language of the law must not be foreign to the ears of those who are to obey it.”

A complimentary piece we also talk about is “Legal Writing Matters: 4 Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Law Students,” by Samantha Moppet in the Suffolk Law School blog. Her four main points to better prepare law students for legal writing and creatively writing for legal is:

1 – Encourage them
2 – Provide instructive feedback
3 – Integrate humour in lessons
4 – Collaborate

So be clear, don’t use “lawyer language” that can be difficult for outsiders to understand. Don’t discourage creativity, just understand what aspects of it to apply and how to encourage it, primarily through collaboration. Both good articles – check them out, and stop using comic sans in place of actual humor.

Helping Attorneys and Judges Write More Effectively

Ross Guberman is the president of Legal Writing Pro LLC, a training and consulting firm as well as the creator of BriefCatch, a legal editing add-on to Word that helps lawyers and other professional writers catch mistakes while drafting.

Winner of the Legal Writing Institute’s 2016 Golden Pen award, Ross hops the globe conducting seminars and programs for prominent law firms, judges and courts, as well as any other agencies, corporations, and associations.

Ross is an active member of the bar and a former attorney, holds degrees from Yale, The Sorbonne, and the University of Chicago Law School, and has worked as a translator, professional musician, and award-winning journalist.

Learn more about Ross Guberman

On Legal Writing and Law School

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Ross about where law schools succeed and where they fail with regards to legal writing:

Jake: Explain to us this disconnect between legal education and legal experience when it comes to drafting and crafting these documents. How are schools getting it right and maybe how can they step up their game, and is there a place in there for BriefCatch to sort of work its magic?

Ross: Well, I can address the last part, by the away, because it’s timely. Because in the last couple of weeks, several law schools actually have bought BriefCatch for the entire student body and faculty. So, I mean, I think that’s a good idea, even though I’m obviously biased. But to go to your more, you know, in your core question, I’ve grown to have a lot of sympathy for the legal writing professors of America, and I actually did teach the class once. And I taught an upper level class many years after that.

So I also understand a little bit what kinds of pressures they’re on. So they become sort of punching bags for this, you know, this alleged gap between graduating law students skills and what lawyers need in practice. And I don’t think much… A lot of the criticism is fair because they can’t be held responsible for every single thing that one might not have going into law school and everything from writing rhetoric to oral communication, interviewing skills, and the like. So it’s easy, it is tempting to try to blame them, but again, for some reason, nobody blames the doctrinal professors, or even the clinics, or the deans, or anybody else. They seem to take it all out on the legal writing teachers.

So that’s sort of my sympathy, and it’s very genuine, and I feel it very strongly. On the other hand, I’ve noticed, especially in the last seven or eight years, that the legal writing courses have started becoming a little bit more nebulous in their focus. And they are seeking to not just teach writing, or maybe not even teach writing primarily, but become vehicles for discussing theories of rhetoric and client communication skills. And all that is great, but the truth is I can tell you for sure, with certainty, and a lot of experience, that law students today need a lot more writing training, not less.

And the idea that writing would just be sort of a part or maybe even a major part of one class, I think is really not that sensible given what employers are demanding and frankly very often complaining about. So obviously, there are ways to address this in upper level classes, having more creative or innovative writing base classes, maybe doing more with clinics. But really there’s only so much law schools can be expected to do especially when it comes to core writing skills that frankly don’t have that much to do with legal writing or legal documents themselves.

Get More Information About BriefCatch and Legal Writing

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about legal writing and how to use BriefCatch improve your legal documents. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—


Ep 56 – Who’s Down With O.P.I.P. – The Future of IP Law

We discuss Ideas, Intellectual Property law and the Internet of Things – then we interview CEO of TurboPatent Corp, Jim Billmaier to learn what the future of ideas and IP law looks like.

the future of IP law









Protecting Intellectual Property – Can The Law Keep Up With IP & The Internet Of Things?

Setting up legal frameworks around the internet of things isn’t just a necessity to move the legal market and profession forward, it’s almost an existential and national security decision. What loopholes are available for exploitation in all areas where sensitive ideas and privacy exist? Should lawyers view them as  necessary to help build our companies and dreams? Taking information security and data privacy seriously isn’t just for policy wonks anymore. There is another aspect that hits a little closer to home – the potentially thousands of documents a law firm may have on clients and vendors and staff. . . oh boy.

We have two articles we discuss in today’s Hot Take touching on the internet of things and intellectual property protection. Both are in-depth and have some good take aways – the one from Forbes even has an enumerated list! – so dig in here:

Can the Law Keep Up With the Internet of Things? by Jeffrey N. Rosenthal and Thomas F. Brier Jr.

10 Effective Ways To Protect Your Intellectual Property by Forbes Technology Council

Revitalizing and Reinventing the Patent Process with Automated Invention Protection

Jim Billmaier is the CEO and co-founder of TurboPatent Corp., the creators of the TurboPatent® automated invention protection solution, and is the author and originator of the concepts contained in the book “Inventioneering: The smartest CEOs will fuse engineering and invention to dominate the next decade,”published in 2017. In 2005, he founded Patent Navigation Inc., an IP strategy consulting company.

Jim has also served as Chairman and CEO of several companies including Asymetrix, Digeo, Inc., and Melodeo, Inc, a cloud based media platform company acquired by the Hewlett Packard Corporation in 2010. And as if all that wasn’t enough, Jim has decided to pad his resume with an appearance on LAWsome and we are grateful he made the time to join us on the show.

Flat Fees, Procurement and Corporate Legal Purchasing

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Jim about how much has changed in the past ten years, why it’s important to understand how corporations and procurement departments approach purchasing and the fee structures they want:

Interviewer: So, just right off the bat, the fact that billable hours was a protected kind of thing, we need to go through all this stuff. So, if you automate that process, you take away those billable hours. Is that kind of essentially what you’re saying is that’s sort of the frustration there? Can you get into that?

Jim: Yeah. Here’s what happened because we actually kind of test marketed it in, like, 2006… to see, hey, if we went and did this, and we talked…I’ve had a lot of…obviously, I’d met a lot of patent attorneys. And they gave us that answer. It’s like, “Oh, the firm is never going to do that. That’s going to just reduce our billable hours while we’ve always done it this way,” so on and so forth.

But there was a change that happened leading up to 2008, the Great Recession, that corporations started putting the hammer down. And more and more of the large corporations started saying, “No more billable hours for at least the production, the preparation and prosecution of patents.” They said, “We’re going to fixed fee.”

So, you’ve got companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, these kind of big companies, they don’t pay billable hours. In fact, they pay compressed fixed fee. So, now there’s more of a motivation to be able to make high-quality patents but do it in less time. So, we are seeing that, you know, that was sort of what we viewed as kind of a change point.

Now, I suggest at least in the technology space, probably 60%, 65%, maybe even more of patents are build on a fixed fee as opposed to just let the clock run. So, that has been a change that really has made the market more appropriate for us at this point.

Interviewer: Just to keep wandering down this path for a second, we’ve had several guests on the show who are looking at the procurement side of things. I’m curious your thoughts on that where there’s this relationship that’s being developed between legal and procurement where people are looking more for that the same way that they would look at, like, a supply chain. And I’m just kind of curious what you think about that particularly talking about flat fees or a service-based fee as opposed to this hourly rate.

Jim: Yeah. You know, I do see a trend where… let’s go back 10 years. It was unheard of to have a purchasing person involved in the “buying process” of doing legal work, right? So, the standard method was, “Well, I worked with this guy at a firm I worked at before I came here.” So, it was a very [close] relationship, I might almost say incestuous kind of decision process.

And then what I see now is professional purchasing people coming in and saying, “No, no, no. We’re going to run our process. We’re going to make certain that they’re using things that make them efficient. We’re going to clamp down on some of these costs, etc.” And I see that kind of happening broadly in legal where corporations are trying to consolidate, trying to make certain that their suppliers are doing things that are more efficient, etc. And that’s happened in a lot of different industries, and now it’s just catching up to legal.

Get More Information About IP Law, Patent Law and Automated Contracts

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and IP law, efficient contract creation and automation and what IP and privacy law looks like in the future. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—



Ep 52 – The Torts of Tomorrow

Technology and innovation are moving at a breakneck pace, from Amazon Dash to smart refrigerators to driverless cars. With the advancement of these technologies are there going to be new and unforeseen consequences with regards to negligence and tort law, and will tech (particularly social media) play a role in how these legal issues are raised? On today’s show, we check out the torts of tomorrow with an article from the DMV on driverless cars, then we talk scooters and robots with forward-leaning law professor Tracy Pearl from Texas Tech University.

legal podcast LAWsome Consultwebs Tort Law

Who Is Going To Be Responsible For Driverless Car Accidents and Injuries?

Today’s Hot Take is an article from the DMV – no, we are not making this up – called “How Do You Sue A Self Driving Car” by Bridget Clerkin. In it, she writes:

“Autonomous cars may be easily acquiring the skills needed to drive, but it’s much harder for the technology to take responsibility for any accidents it should cause on the road.

To start laying the legal groundwork needed to navigate through such uncertainty, many in the world of law have turned to the idea of strict liability, which would hold a vehicle manufacturer accountable for any incident caused by a defect with a car.

However, some speculate that autonomous vehicles could be designated a “service,” which would make the rides subject to contract law—a body of rules that could skew very favorable for businesses. This is not without potential complications – for contract law, you’d have to accept the terms and conditions which could include mandatory arbitration agreement, preventing users from suing service providers in the case of an accident or joining a class action lawsuit.

The technology of tomorrow will quickly test the laws of today, and it won’t be long before the consensus of industry titans or even the perfect video recall of an event data recorder won’t be enough to determine who’s at fault in a world where vehicles can think for themselves.”

While fully automated cars may still be just over the horizon, it’s interesting to start thinking about how they are going to change society and they laws that will be needed to regulate them. Right now, we don’t even know if it is a service or a manufacturing issue or what the assumptions with regards to driving capabilities even are, so how can we begin to lay the groundwork for damage claims and litigation?  There are some great approaches, and it’s a very interesting read regarding what lawyers and law firms might be facing in the future, check it out here:

Teaching Negligence with Twitter and The Future of Negligence and Liability Claims

Tracy Pearl is a professor of law at Texas Tech University. She is a nationally recognized scholar on emerging technology and the law and researches and writes extensively about risk, regulation, and tort law in the areas of driverless vehicles, the Internet of Things, and other new forms of technology. Professor Pearl is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Fourth, and Tenth Circuits.

We were first introduced to her on Twitter, where she is using the platform in a unique way to interact with her students and the community, and that led us down the path to the present, where she has graciously taken the time out of her day to join us on LAWsome.

Will Technological Breakthroughs Lead To A Flood of New Negligence Lawsuits?

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Tracy about emerging technologies and the opportunities for legal action with regards to who or what is responsible and where she thinks tort law is and injury claims are headed:

Paul: It’s interesting to hear you say that, particularly about e-discovery and stuff like that because we’ve had guests on the show and we’ve talked about machine learning, AI, you know, document preparation, e-discovery, stuff like that before and one thing that’s been brought up is responsibility. Who’s responsible for that? And I’m curious, how does that go in kind of a larger sense? I mean, if these things were deep into fully automated cars or whatever,  do we sue an engineer? Like –  who’s responsible?

Tracy: Yeah, yeah, was it program error or is it nobody at all? That’s a great question and there are, coming up on hundreds of law review articles about, well, who is responsible? Is it the driver? A lot of state laws that are being passed in and around driverless vehicles actually make the person who engages the autonomous system responsible for what that system does, which is terrifying, right? I can’t think of a quicker way to convince people not to use driverless cars than to tell them that they’re going to be the ones on the hook if something goes wrong and there’s a software malfunction.

So I don’t know that our traditional models of liability work particularly well in an AI or machine learning context. I just don’t know that we even have jurisprudence that’s meaningful. Like if you look for instance, at basically all automobile-related jurisprudence for the last hundred years, it has all assumed that there was a human making decisions behind the wheel. And so when you have a fully autonomous vehicle, none of that’s applicable anymore. So where do we go from there? And that’s why I’m dubious by the sort of traditionalist assertion that, “Hey, tort law has dealt with all kinds of things before and it’ll continue to deal with these things well in the future.” Like, I just don’t know that that’s the case when we remove human decision making from the fundamental calculus.

Jake: So in a society that’s already perceived by some as overly litigious…[for example] just recently that Java air crash, that plane went down because there was something that went wrong with an autopilot auto correct thing that none of the pilots knew about. Who is to blame for those things? Who would the families of the victims in that plane crash, who would the families of these victims, of all of these data breaches, certain things that are happening right now, is all this emerging tech just going to give more people the opportunity to take advantage of the system? Or is it going to lean towards sue-happy or if we don’t know who to sue, how could you be happy about it?

Tracy: I’m actually sort of optimistic on that front. I don’t see there being floodgates of litigation suddenly opened here for two reasons. Number one, my hope is that a lot of this emerging technology is going to decrease personal injury pretty significantly. And I certainly believe that about driverless cars. If you look at sort of what the auto insurance industry is saying right now amongst themselves, they’re all terrified by fully driverless cars because it’s going to put them out of business, right? I mean 94% of all car crashes are caused by human driver error. So when you take the human out of the driver’s seat, you know, presumably we may reduce the number of accidents on the road by upwards of 90%. And my hope is that other forms of new technology are going to decrease risk as well. I think secondly, these are going to be thorny, expensive cases to litigate. And so I don’t know that anybody’s going to be super excited about having to plow new ground on a machine learning case in a court.  I mean, that’s going to be an uphill battle for any plaintiff. So my hope is that there’s not such a flood of litigation, but that it stays the same, if not decreases.

Get More Information About Technology, Negligence and the Torts of Tomorrow

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and thoughts about emerging technology, negligence claims and the ability of regulations and law to keep up with the rapidly changing realities of driverless cars and other innovations. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 46 – Legal Tech, Fear, and The Future

We talk about legal tech, fear and entrepreneurs as we review an article from the Harvard Business Review, and interview lawyer and legal tech gadfly, Dan Lear from Right Brain Law, about embracing change, and the future of legal tech.

Law Firm Technology, Entrepreneurs, Fear and Fearlessness

Today’s Hot Take comes from an article on Harvard Business Review called “How Fear Helps (and Hurts) Entrepreneurs” by James Hayton and Gabriella Cacciotti. According to the article:

” While ‘fail fast and often’ is the constant refrain of the lean startup movement and many others, no one really wants to fail. Failure has many ramifications that it would be foolish to overlook or downplay, including potential bankruptcy, repossession of workers’ home, social stigma, and people losing their livelihoods. Most existing research has thus focused on failure as an inhibitor of entrepreneurship.
Our research shows a more nuanced picture: Fear can inhibit and motivate. Rather than simply stopping people from being entrepreneurial, fear of failure can also motivate greater striving for success.”

While this might seem a bit negative, the authors continue with the line of thought that by approaching and addressing the existence and reasons for fear, you will end up learning and understanding that it is actually something you should learn to live with – not abolish.  It can drive you to innovate and use networks, be comfortable taking risks (within reason) and therefore take advantage of opportunities be unwilling to entertain.

In discussing this article, we also acknowledge that fear of failure is an incredibly powerful motivator on its own, and is all some business owners need to push and innovate and excel, but it’s important to understand that this mindset, and depending upon this as a sole primary motivating factor is not without serious consequences. There is such a thing as “healthy” fear, but taken too far it can easily become negative and consuming.

Great article, check it out:

Creating Legal Tech For Law Firms

Our guest on this episode is Dan Lear is a lawyer and legal industry gadfly and the Chief Instigator of Right Brain Law. As a practicing attorney he’s advises technology companies from startups to the Fortune 100. Since his transition from tech lawyer to legal technologist Dan’s been mentioned, featured, or published widely in the legal industry press and spoken at SXSW, Ignite Seattle, Georgetown University, Stanford University, ReInvent Law, and the National Conference of Bar Presidents. Most recently, Dan was the Director of Industry Relations for Avvo. And now, it all goes uphill with his appearance on the LAWsome podcast!


Legal Tech Innovation Roadblocks and the New Legal Consumer Realities

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Dan about how it seems that technology in some ways is outpacing the legal industry, the barriers that lawyers can encounter when it comes to entrepreneurial mindsets and what “Right Brain Law” means:

Interviewer: …I didn’t mean to get sidetracked with the restrictions and the barriers and stuff, butt… you know, we’ve had people come on, and they’re talking about chatbots. They’re talking about using Alexa to record their hours, their billable hours and stuff like that. So just conversations like that, would that have happened a year ago, two years ago? I mean, do you see that there’s more willingness to look at how technology can maybe help and enhance how people practice law? Or is it still just like, “Well, you know, I can’t do a chatbot because the Bar is just gonna shoot that down?”

Dan: That’s a super interesting question. Here’s is what I think the fundamental challenge to all of that stuff is, which is lawyers are, I think by self-selection and then by training, risk averse and generally really hesitant to try new things. They’re late adopters. You know, a lot of people say things like that, and they’re sort of saying “And that’s what’s wrong with the legal profession. That’s why we don’t have technological adoption, yadda, yadda, yadda.” The analogies between doctors and lawyers are not perfect, but, like, the last thing you want to hear your heart surgeon say as he or she is putting you under is like, “Well, I’ve never done this before, but I like our chances of things working out.” Right? Like…

Interviewer: Get that entrepreneurial spirit as you go into my aorta.

Dan: Yeah. “We’ll muddle through.” Right, exactly. Like, but if we figure it out and it will be awesome… Right? And so there are lots of good reasons why lawyers should understand… Like, I mean, our whole legal system is built on this notion of precedent and how you can know that a court is going to look at a given situation, is going to interpret a given piece of legislation or a law in a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always done it. And that’s really good. And there are really good reasons why our legal system is built that way.

It’s funny, I was talking to a friend of mine who’s a partner at a relatively large law firm here in Seattle. And he said, “You know, big law partners are the risk-averse of the risk-averse of the risk-averse.” You know, first you went to law school, which is already,…at least until the last decade with the Great Recession, a pretty sort of risk-averse way to build a career. And then you go to big law, which is also a pretty safe place to go in legal. And then you stay in big law and become a big law partner. Like, they’re just a risk-averse population to begin with. And then you layer on this level of sort of backward-looking precedent-facing disciplines and, of course, it makes sense that they’re hesitant to try new things.

I think that there are a couple of challenges that are really facing the legal system right now. I think the first is that technology has just completely blown the doors off of the way we think about information. We now have consumers. And we, I think, as lawyers, sometimes forget that we’re consumers, too. But we have access to so much information now that… Even in the best case, there’s so much information that people can get access to that they can make…whether right or wrong, they can make decisions about how they want to engage with the legal system in ways that we never would have imagined, you know, 10, 20, 30 years ago. We don’t really have a choice but to try to understand this landscape better.

Second, there really are now all of these tools out there that can help us not only have lawyers have a better quality of life, but also serve people more effectively. And so we need to continue to be cautious and thoughtful in the right areas, but I think we also need to be open-minded and entrepreneurial and innovative in other areas, like marketing for example, so that we can take advantage of all of these new tools. Because the risk here is that because now consumers have so much access to technology, and information is increasing, and there’s all of the, you know…there’s this whole new entrepreneurial spirit about people out there, really smart people just looking for problems to solve. And at some point they will be able to solve problems that lawyers previously solved or that lawyers were required to solve or that lawyers were really good at stepping in and solving because no one was there.

They’re going to step in and solve those problems, and lawyers will be cut out of the mix. And you add to that, on top of all of that, there’s this huge gap in access, which I think, frankly, damages lawyers’ credibility in this whole equation, right? Like, if it’s our job to help people access the legal system and we’re constantly just sort of saying, like, “We can’t afford it,” or, “We don’t know how to solve that problem,” …then people will increasingly just turn away and find other ways to solve those problems.

So I totally understand that’s a super long way of saying there are very good reasons why we don’t see lawyers adopting technology. But on the other hand, there’s such opportunity, and really, I think kind of an existential threat to our credibility as lawyers that if we don’t start to figure some of that stuff out, we’re going to miss out on huge opportunity and potentially sort of damage our long-term prospects.

Interviewer: When you’re talking about the way lawyers think, is that where you got the idea of Right Brain Law? The name for that, just real, just a quick aside, what does that mean?

Dan: Totally. It was inspired by a book written by a guy by the name of Dan Pink, who’s written a bunch of other business books. And he interestingly is a lawyer by training. He went to law school, but then never practiced law. And he wrote a book, actually, now more than 10 years ago, called “A Whole New Mind.” And in it he said sort of the professionals of the future that will succeed, or even just the workers of the future that will succeed are those who can integrate left brain and right brain thinking. He said sort of the 20th century was the century of the analytical mind,  the process-driven, sort of calculating, analytical mind. And he said the problem is now so much of that can either be outsourced or done by a computer.

And so the question is, how can you take those skills and build on top of them, right brain skills? And he gives all these examples like design and laughter. He has all these really interesting ideas that sort of need to overlay these left brain skills. And so he wrote this whole book, and he gives tons of examples in medicine,  tons of all of these other examples. He, himself, being a law grad, he gave so few examples in law. And I was just really inspired by the book, and I was like, “Hey, I want to bring sort of this thinking and this kind of approach to legal.” And so that’s where the name came from.

Get More Information About Law Firm Tech and Entrepreneurship

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and thoughts about tech, fear and innovation for lawyers. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—