Want to know what litigation analytic product to use?

Some 27 librarians tested 7 platforms of the most well litigation analytics providers to see which one was the best. They presented their findings at the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) annual meeting this week in Washington D.C.

The platforms evaluated were those offered by Bloomberg Law, Docket Alarm, Docket Navigator, Lex Machina, Lexis Context, Monitor Suite and WestLaw Edge. The test panel consisted of law librarians who asked the platforms sixteen real world questions. The questions were the kind most legal professionals would expect litigation analytics would be able to answer, like how many times a certain lawyer had appeared before a certain judge or how many class action matters a firm had defended. The answers, of course, could only be derived from federal court data.

The short answers: these platforms do slightly different things and work in slightly different ways so there is no real winner. And the platforms work best when they are run by an experienced, well trained people who then manually review and analyze the results.

 

There are very real differences in the platforms: the reviewers got 7 different answers to every question they asked, none of which was completely correct.

Here’s my 5 take aways from the competition:

Take Away Number 1: There is no one size fits all analytics platform: the best platform to use depends heavily on the type of case and the budget you have. There are very real differences in the platforms: the reviewers got 7 different answers to every question they asked, none of which was completely correct. And there was a big difference in ease of use and adaptability of the platform to the problem presented among the programs. The Bloomberg product, for example, was the easiest to use but had less functionality and adaptability. The Docket Alarm product, on the other hand, was the most complex product to use but could be adapted to meet a wide variety of different inquires: so, while it comes with a big learning curve, the sky is limit on what it can do. Again, the best product to use depends on the use and types of inquires: Who will be using it? How skilled are they? What kind of inquires are anticipated? For a big firm with different types of work, this means several platforms might be needed which is costly. For smaller firms without knowledge and information management expertise, ease of use may be the most important characteristic. We just aren’t yet at the place of one size fits all.

Take Away Number 2: You really have to know what you’re doing and combine the analytics programs with other tools to get the best result. When asked, for example, how many class actions has the firm O’Melveny defended, none of the platforms gave a solid correct answer. Similarly, the reviewers got a different result from every provider to the question how many cases has a law firm appeared before a particular judge. In both cases, the librarians had to use a combination of filters, features, nuances and work-arounds to get the right answer. Use of litigation analytics thus still requires lots of knowledge and experience and you have to define carefully what you want and what you want to search for. (Interestingly, the reviewers suggest using slightly vague questions based on real world examples and detailing search strategies with things like date ranges and steps taken). We are clearly a ways away from intuitive and easy to use products that attorneys can run on their own. This, in turn makes it harder to sell and market the products.

 

In every example, a manual review of the answers to the question presented had to be done to get an accurate result

Take Away Number 3: We are a long way from relying solely on the platform of any provider. In every example, a manual review of the answers to the question presented had to be done to get an accurate result. This, of course, means that to get the very best result, an attorney must do a review in combination with a skilled operator of the platform of the results obtained.

Take Away Number 4: Even though the federal court system is entirely digitized, there are still gaps in the data that cause problems for analytical programs; there are lots of data problems that have yet to be cleaned up. Typos, for example, still bedevil the Pacer system. There remain tagging problems. Nomenclature is still a real issue. So, it’s not all the providers’ fault that there are 7 different answers to each question: how each platform parses and looks at sloppy or dirty data yields different results. And the federal data is more digitized than any other litigation data like that from state courts. Again, we have a long way to go.

Take Away Number 5: Because of present functionality and consistency issues with the platforms and the need for skilled operation, the training that vendors are offering needs to be robust to insure good results. If they want their customer to trust the products, vendors have to invest heavily in training. They also have to be very transparent about what their products will and will not do. Otherwise, they risk the conclusion that data analytics is just a big bust that won’t really do much.

 

Certainly, today, the products all need a level of operational expertise that most attorneys don’t yet have.

One side note: while the testing group concluded that the vendors should test their products not with attorneys but solely with law librarians (who, for the time being, will be the ones likely using the products), I think this is misplaced. Certainly, today, the products all need a level of operational expertise that most attorneys don’t yet have. But vendors can’t assume that this will or should always be the case. Without testing products with attorneys and developing products for attorneys’ end use, data analytics will remain in the hands of the very big firms that can afford knowledge and information management specialists. Given the power of the programs and the advantage they give, that’s not a fair result. In addition, having the person who best knows a case, the themes and the story that needs to be told about it, able to ask specific relevant case questions is critical to getting the most effective result. That person is usually the lawyer in charge of the matter.

All in all, as much as I and other commentators have championed the potential power of litigation analytics, the AALL competition reveals some holes that need to be filled for that potential to be recognized. But at the end of the day, the best comment during today’s panel discussion of the findings was from Kevin Miles, Manager of Library Services for Norton Rose: vendors must keep on keeping on. Analytics are powerful tools. They make systems transparent. They reduce competitive advantages. Just because today’s analytical products have some limitations doesn’t mean we or the vendors should throw in the towel.

 

Just because today’s analytical products have some limitations doesn’t mean we or the vendors should throw in the towel.

Key takeaways for vendors: must be transaparency with how works and what can do, must offer robust training, test with librarian not attorneys,and most importanly human interaction cant yet be eliminated.
Not sure if i agree with not testing with attorneys if want to get to a use case where lawyers can use. If do then limit use to those large firms who can hire the expertise necesasary

Thomson Reuters and WestLaw today announced the release of an enhanced legal research platform called Quick Check as part of their WestLaw Edge suite of products. Quick Check uses sophisticated algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning to search and find better and more relevant cites and authorities to use in legal writing.

It works like this: you upload your document securely into the WestLaw Edge cloud and Quick Check then searches for and provides citations and authorities that you did not include. It arranges these by various headings and into a relevancy hierarchy. It also will tell you whether the citations you have used are troublesome or perhaps not totally on the mark, perhaps triggering some more thought about those citations. According to WestLaw, Quick Check will find highly relevant authority, secondary sources and other related briefs and memoranda to ensure that its customers find what they might have otherwise missed. It will also prepare a Table of Authorities, a pain in the ass portion of any brief no matter who does it.

With Quick Check you can evaluate the work product of a colleague or outside counsel, or repurpose an old document to quickly identify the newest authority. It can be used to check your own work, and to prepare for oral argument and any other situation where citations and authorities might become important like client meetings, mediations or even conferance presentations. I really like this last use case since it could prevent you from being blind sided in front of a judge or even client by some new case or one you may have missed. The tool looks to be easy to use and pretty intuitive which will make it popular.

 

 

According to Khalid Al-Kofahi, vice president of Research & Development at Thomson Reuters, “Westlaw Edge Quick Check achieves [this] through a combination of features, including the eyeglass symbol on previously viewed documents, case outcome, and context provided by other cases cited in the document. It’s bolstered by additional AI capabilities such as the relevant snippets that help users quickly determine whether a recommended document warrants closer review.” Lots of ways Quick Check can save time and effort.

The beauty of the product lies, of course, in WestLaw’s massive data base of cases and authorities. The biggest issue of AI in law is data availability: few companies can match the WestLaw data base when it comes to case, regularity and statutory related data and materials. WestLaw has been around a long time, is a well known provider and, as I previously discussed, jumped into litigation AI and data analytics about a year ago with its WestLaw Edge product which enables data analytics not just of citation and authorities for research purposes but for behavior of lawyers and judges. Quick Check is the next step to suppling these analytics across the litigation framework and is a fine tuning of WestLaw’s legal research offerings.

Westlaw Edge Quick Check will be available to Westlaw Edge subscribers on July 24 and will be included in the standard WestLaw Edge subscription.

This week I’m attending the Enterprise World Conference in Toronto put on by OpenText. OpenText is an Enterprise Information Management (EIM)  company that works with businesses of all sorts to manage digital information and then use that information to better achieve their goals. If that sounds broad, its because it is. OpenText has its hands in almost every industry.

OpenText recently made a big play to get into the LegalTech space and is trumpeting this entry at the Conference. OpenText’s legal section and programs have been mentioned prominently in the company keynotes and educational sessions and it has devoted significant space on the exhibit floor to its legal related products.

OpenText acquired the eDiscovery technology company, Catalyst, earlier this year for $75 million to bolster OpenText’s eDiscovery products and to shoehorn their broader entry into the legal market. The idea, says Andrew Di Bello, Vice-President of Strategic Development for OpenText, is to offer OpenText’s substantial corporate clients seamless, end to end tools to handle eDiscovery as well as other services like cyber security , audit and compliance. This holistic approach makes some sense: treating eDiscovery not as a standalone legal problem left to outside counsel but a business, knowledge and information management problem for in-house counsel to solve makes good sense. My guess is that OpenText doesn’t plan to stop there by the way.

But that’s not the big take away from the Conference. OpenText recognizes that we headed for a world where almost all information will be digital. What can then be done with that digital information will and is revolutionizing business and ultimately the practice of law. Indeed, the power of analytics in a fully digital world holds three very powerful and important lessons for lawyers and law firms.

First, automation and artificial intelligence will or should change the way we look at problems and our world. As Marco de Vries, OpenText’s Senior Director, Product Marketing put it, in the future, business will manage to the exception, meaning that everything that is not exceptional but routine will be handled by automation and artificial intelligence. Mark Barrenechea, the CEO and CIO of OpenText articulated the critical issue this way in discussing human relations: in the future when a business is thinking about a new hire, it must ask itself whether the job can be better (or almost as well) done by automation, artificial intelligence or some cheaper provider. If it can, then that will be the necessary choice in a highly competitive world.

What does this mean for tomorrow’s lawyer? When approaching the handling of a legal matter in the future, the successful lawyer must critically ask him or herself which tasks necessary to solve the problem and handle the matter can be done by automation, artificial intelligence or some other lower cost provider.

The practice of law will in essence be stripped of all that is routine, leaving only the exceptional problems left for lawyers to solve.

For lawyers, this means any previous billable work that lawyers have done that they were overqualified to do will be going, going,  gone. The practice of law will in essence be stripped of all that is routine, leaving only the exceptional problems left for lawyers to solve. And the truly successful ones will realize that and figure out how to use automation and AI tools to best solve them.

Which leads to lesson two. When you realize the implications of lawyering to the exceptional, the immediate knee jerk reaction is doom and gloom: we already have too many lawyers and not enough work. We have a manpower hangover from the days when we could leverage matters with lawyers and bill with impunity for anything and everything. We hired legions of lawyers based on these principles. But clients are more and more unwilling to pay for any excess and this will only accelerate in the digital world. We already need less lawyers. What will we all do in the future?

To get the exceptional lawyer the information he or she needs to solve exceptional problems, we will need new specialists to mine data and create the automation and AI tools

But think about how work will get done in the future. To best solve the exceptional problem, tomorrow’s lawyers will need to have information. And to get the exceptional lawyer the information he or she needs to solve exceptional problems, we will need new specialists to mine data and create automation and AI tools. Barrenechea, in his keynote, identified some of these roles for businesses and, for that matter, law firms. They are such specialists as data scientists, data officers, developers of apps and tools and digital nomads who can work anywhere and everywhere to supply our needs to name just a few.

We won’t be able to look down our proverbial noses at the “non-lawyers” and instead will have to bring them in as full partners

But law firms will have to do a cultural shift and recognize the value of these new roles. We won’t be able to look down our proverbial noses at the “non-lawyers” and instead will have to bring them in as full partners (Not necessarily legally but culturally. Although legally may be coming too). We will have to value and pay these new players and treat them in every respect as our equals. That may be hard for many of us. But it will be the only way to survive in the new world.

Which brings me to last lesson and perhaps most important lesson. Barrenechea yesterday said every business has to think of what it does differently than in the past. Barrenechea believes all businesses are or soon will be information companies.

Having all the information and understanding what it means will be table stakes for future lawyers

What does this mean for lawyers? If we want to manage to the exceptional, we will have to have every possible piece of information at our disposal to compete. Success will depend on judgment and advice based not on intuition or wild ass guesses but on data and information. Having all the information and understanding what it means will be table stakes for future lawyers. So, yes, lawyers—in-house or in law firms—will be also be in the information business: obtaining, accessing and understanding the information needed to make informed judgements about the exceptional. And getting our arms around the ever expounding information and data will call for the specialists outlined above and a different way of thinking about what we do and how we solve problems.

We are no longer in the legal business. We are in the information business. Get over it.

One of my favorite academic LegalTech/innovation thought leaders is Dan Linna. Dan was a practicing litigator for several years before moving over to the academic side and is now with the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago. Dan brings good humor to every issue and never tires of pushing the needle when it comes to legal tech. He’s also very attuned to what’s going on in the marketplace. To paraphrase an old commercial: When Dan Linna talks, everyone should listen.

 

David Curle is an equally interesting and knowledgeable guy from the private sector. Curle is the Leader of Thomson Reuters Executive Institute and has one of those rare jobs we all aspire to: Curle’s job is basically to think.  Think about what’s going on in the LegalTech marketplace, what is just over the horizon and to understand the environment in which Thomson Reuters’ customers find themselves these days. If you don’t know, Thomson Reuters has the very broadest group of legal customers imaginable: everyone from a solo practitioner to the very largest global law firms, accounting firms, and world’s largest legal departments.

 

Between Linna and Curle, I can imagine no two people more knowledgeable about today’s legal environment and where it’s headed. So, when Linna recently ventured into the podcasting to interview Curle, it was a rare opportunity to learn what these guys are seeing and predicting. (I say interview in the broadest sense. It was really more of a discussion. Which is good since both gentlemen have lots to say).

 

And what are the top 5 things these guys are seeing?

 

  1. Some of the largest and more competitive law firms are finally distinguishing themselves in new and different ways, responding to competitive pressures to be more innovative. Not that long ago that most law firms were all pretty much the same: they offered standard expertise as “full service” law firms. They took problems as they came in the door, legally solved them and moved on. But that is changing as sophisticated firms are doing several new and different things:

 

  • Some firms (mostly the very large) are approaching client problems differently, treating and solving them more holistic as business problems, much like accountants do. As I have pointed out, the Big 4 looks at legal problems as business problems and attempts to build systems that fix problems long-term. I have commented before on the threat the Big 4 accounting firms pose for U.S. law firms. Perhaps it is the threat the Big 4 poses to law firms and the competition that is forcing a more client-centric philosophy within law firms.
  • Law firms are partnering with alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) to do work more efficiently. As Linna and I proposed some time ago, many legal matters can be “unbundled” with individual pieces of work being sent to lower cost ASLPs who leverage technology and use a different business model to do work more efficiently. Law firms are just now recognizing this and entering into partnerships with ASLPs (or sometimes forming their own ALSPs) to do more work better, cheaper and faster. The ALSP legal market is the fastest growing legal area right now, by the way.
  • Law firms are utilizing technology to create expert systems and automated tools to serve clients better. Firms are recognizing that their brand and competitive advantages can be used not only to market these systems but, as Linna recognized, also to pull in adjacent work with teams of lawyers on the ready. I talked about this opportunity recently in my post on the Wilson Sonsoni  ancillary business,  SixFifty. The result: more services provided to small business and others who might not otherwise be able to afford legal advice.
  • Some firms (mostly the very large) are approaching client problems differently, treating and solving them more holistic as business problems, much like accountants do. As I have pointed out, the Big 4 looks at legal problems as business problems and attempts to build systems that fix problems long-term. I have commented before on the threat the Big 4 accounting firms pose for U.S. law firms. Perhaps it is the threat the Big 4 poses to law firms and the competition that is forcing a more client-centric philosophy within law firms.

 

2.  On the in-house side, legal ops are remaking how legal problems are solved, and costs contained. In house legal departments more and more want their law firms to be flexible and offer different pricing models. In house counsel also want more collaboration with and among their law firms, particularly with respect to data collection, joint access to data, and governance (see below). However, Linna and Curle both noted the continuing philosophical and cultural distance—not between law firms and in-house counsel— but between law firms and the business people within their clients. This, in part, explains the rise of the ALSPs since these providers often speak the same business language and have a similar philosophy as business people.

 

Clients don’t always know what they want or need so it’s up to their lawyers to come up with innovations to better provide legal services

Both Linna and Curle believe that it is the law firms, however, that should take the lead offering new and innovative services and technologies to their clients. Says Linna and Curle, clients don’t always know what they want or need so it’s up to their lawyers to come up with innovations to better provide legal services. I don’t disagree, but would note the poor track record of law firms in doing just this. Perhaps ALSPs will be the competitive prod to force law firms to be more creative.

 

3. As I have noted, data—big and small—is revolutionizing law. Litigation analytic products are providing more transparency about value and exposure. We are just at the beginning of using predictive analytics to solve all sorts of legal related problems. We are seeing providers scratching the surface with programs to do deep dives on attorney bills to classify better how lawyers spend their time and using artificial intelligence to evaluate indicators and draw inferences from legal fees.

Law firms of the future will understand the importance of data to clients and try to understand their client’s data, how to improve its collection and control and the problems it can answer.

While both Linna and Curle agree as a profession we have a long way to go with data analytics, they also agree that both in house and outside counsel are recognizing the value of data and are trying to formulate good data governance policies. It may be that competitive law firms of the future will understand the importance of data to clients and try to understand their client’s data, how to improve its collection and control and the problems it can answer. It will be these firms that will be top of mind for hiring decisions: who best to represent you than the law firm that understands your data and what it can do.

 

4. Which leads to the next trend on the horizon: preventive law. Using data and analytics to predict problems and legal issues before they happen so they can be prevented. Again, as I previously commented, the law firms that can help their clients use data better to prevent problems will be in the best position to guarantee success in problems that do occur. But to do this, lawyers must become more business-centric, knowing their client’s business better so they can offer sound judgments, not just about the law but about how to solve business problems growing out of legal issues and problems. This requires, says Linna and Curle, thinking more in cross disciplinary ways. Today, too many lawyers simply don’t know their clients and can’t offer this more sophisticated advice.

Prediction, prevention and exercising legal judgment in these areas are high-value work say Linna and Curle and is where the real value for lawyers lies in the future as routine work more and more falls away.

Of course, the future is all based on data. Legal organizations need to recognize the value of the data in their organizations in ways not done in the past. But to do that, there must be good data management, and governance policies managed by qualified individuals within organizations. Law firms are just starting to understand the need for this role.

 

  1. And here is the final tidbit offered by Linna and Curle (with which I strongly agree by the way):  the mid-size law firms may be in trouble. The ones who aren’t moving in the directions described above but who are content to muddle along like always, being all things to all people, having little recognition of the value and use of data and who aren’t pushing the innovative envelope. Unless these firms somehow define themselves differently, they could go the way of the midline swiss watchmakers who were cut from below by lower cost competitors and above by higher cost competitors offering superior products. 

 

Linna and Curle offer a vision for the future whereby the tech and innovation revolution finally hit big law. It seems we may indeed be on the cusp of a sea change.

Photo Attribution

@alexandermils via Unsplash

 


Greg Lambert, Chief Knowledge Service Officer at Jackson Walker and well-known blogger at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, recently authored a post entitled The Ethics of It All. In it he talked about another article by Fast Company’s Gwen Moran entitled, Is It Unethical to Not Tell My Employer I’ve Automated My Job?. Moran offers the hypothetical of a worker who figures out how to automate a 40 hour a week job into 2 hours and then wonders whether she should tell her the employer knowing that it could cause her to lose her job. Lambert raises a similar ethical question for the legal profession, particularly for those who charge by the hour versus results.

Moran’s hypo gets precisely at the acute dilemma posed by the billable hour model: reducing time and creating efficiency is the fastest way to lower revenue. And like Moran’s hypothetical worker, a law firm that does that too much for too long risks financial ruin. Certainly for an associate and to some partners in law firms, finding a way to automate work reduces billable hours and could be professional suicide.

We have all heard as practicing lawyers about that lawyer who refuses to negotiate or drags things out until he or she gets their billable hour quota in.

In a way, its similar to another paradox of the legal profession: if we resolve a matter quickly, our reward is less work, less billable hours, and less revenue. The argument, of course, is by doing good work efficiently, your reward is supposedly more work in the future from a happy client. But how many lawyers these days really want to play that kind of long game? And if the matter is one that won’t likely repeat itself, how strong is the incentive to resolve it really quickly? We have all heard as practicing lawyers about that lawyer who refuses to negotiate or drags things out until he or she gets their billable hour quota in.

The ethics of “getting the billable hours into a case” should seem clear at least in principle. But advancing technology raises some interesting dilemmas for lawyers when it comes to billing and the use of technology.

The ethical rules governing lawyer billing are concise but not necessarily clear. Model Rule 1.5 basically prohibits us from charging “unreasonable” fees: “A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.” The Rule goes on to add several factors to be considered when assessing what’s reasonable, including the notion that the fee should be similar to that customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services.

Is it unreasonable under the Rule to expect a firm to use a piece of technology that might reduce the hours billed on something from 40 hours to 2?

But what does this mean in the context of advancing legal technology and automation? What’s reasonable when it comes to the use of technology that might significantly enhance efficiency at the expense of billable hours? Using Moran’s hypo, is it unreasonable under the Rule to expect a firm to use a piece of technology that might reduce the hours billed on something from 40 hours to 2? And how mainstream does a software program have to be before it becomes “customary in the locale”?

Not long ago, JPMorgan began using a program called COIN to analyze commercial loan documents, a highly repetitive task that it took lawyers some 30,000 billable hours to do. It’s one thing to mouth the mantra that automation and technology can help make legal services less costly and let lawyers spend more time doing lawyer things like strategic thinking etc. It’s quite another to tell a law firm that there is a piece of technology that will eliminate 30,000 hours from next year’s budget and expect the law firm to jump at the chance to use it. But does that refusal (or maybe more accurately slow walking reluctance) at some point become unreasonable and unethical under Rule 1.5? When?

Lawyers and law firms routinely ignore all sorts of time-saving technology and automation tools with little hesitation. Is that reasonable?

Lawyers and law firms routinely ignore all sorts of time-saving technology and automation tools with little hesitation. Is that reasonable? Is it reasonable to expect lawyers to keep abreast not just of the risks and benefits of technology but whether and how technology could save their clients’ legal fees? If so, what’s the scope of this duty to investigate and duty to use? At some point, does it become arguable that the billable hour model that rewards inefficiency and places a lawyer in the conflicting position of looking after their self-interest versus that of their clients itself become unreasonable?

Does this mean a lawyer can avoid ethical billing problems and/or has the duty to say: look, we know about the technology that could save us a bunch of time but we aren’t going to use it cuz we don’t want to?

Rule 1.5 also goes on to say: “The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation…” Does this mean a lawyer can avoid ethical billing problems and/or has the duty to say: look, we know about the technology that could save us a bunch of time but we aren’t going to use it cuz we don’t want to?

And if this wasn’t murky enough, here’s another wrinkle: Courts have held that it is unreasonable for lawyers to charge their hourly rates for services provided by non-lawyers or for law-related tasks that do not constitute the practice of law, such as sending faxes or delivering documents to opposing counsel. Well, that makes sense, I guess. But does the work that the JPMorgan program now does not constitute the practice of law? What does the “practice of law” really mean with advancing technology?

The Second Circuit recently addressed just this question in Lola v. Skadden, a case involving whether certain labor standards applied to contract lawyers hired by Skadden. In holding that these services provided by these contract lawyers did not constitute the practice of law, the Court noted:

A fair reading of the complaint in the light most favorable to Lola is that he provided services      that a machine could have provided. The parties themselves agreed at oral argument that an individual who, in the course of reviewing discovery documents, undertakes tasks that could otherwise be performed entirely by a machine cannot be said to engage in the practice of law.

So, if a software program can do a task, that task is not part of the practice of law and charging lawyer rates to do it are by definition unreasonable under Rule 1.5.

So, if a software program can do a task, that task is not part of the practice of law and charging lawyer rates to do it are by definition unreasonable under Rule 1.5. What does this mean for a lawyer? Again, does he or she have to investigate whether there are such programs and then use them for specific tasks? This is not a theoretical question: software and AI programs are increasing throughout the industry, and machines are getting more and more sophisticated. To put it in context: if a FastCase tool can do legal research and a lawyer doesn’t use it and conducts research the old fashioned way, is the time spent the practicing of law? Is it ethically billable? Or what about researching the track record of your adversary by surfing the net or reading previous court filings instead of using sophisticated data analytical tools offered by several legal tech companies?

Indeed, the cost of many legal tech tools still leaves room for ambiguity in making use decisions. But there’s no doubt technology is refashioning the legal profession in many ways, some of which we haven’t even thought of. And I think it’s safe to say technology is going to remake our concepts of what is the practice of law and what is-or isn’t – a reasonable and ethical fee.

Photo Attribution

@jpvalery via Unspash

@sharonmccutcheon via Unsplash


Lots of talk these days for the need for lawyers to be emphatic. To work on practicing empathy. To be more emphatic toward others. Usually, this is couched in terms of being able to better serve and relate to clients, and their needs and concerns, all of which is true enough. But there’s another more practical side to empathy for lawyers that’s also pretty valuable.

 

I stumbled upon this recently when a good friend said to me, “not sure how you were so successful as a lawyer, you’re such a nice guy.” (She was a little less direct than that, but I got the thrust). Ignoring for the moment that the idea that being a good/successful lawyer requires you to be an asshole, her comment did get me thinking about why I was so successful for so long while still being thought of as a reasonably nice person (well, at least by most). Continue Reading Empathy for Lawyers: It’s Not Just Touchy-Feely

Sometime ago, I wondered whether and to what extent plaintiffs’ lawyers, most of whom work on a contingency basis as opposed to by the hour, were adopting technology. After all, it would make sense that any technology that would reduce time spent on a task should be appealing to those who use a business model with which the less time you spend on a project, the more you make.

It has since occurred to me that litigation data analytics would be particularly appealing to contingency fee lawyers since it would enable them to better assess exposure and likely results and the time needed to get to an end resolution. I have written before about the power of these kinds of analytics. Continue Reading Litigation Analytics: Not Just For Defense Firms Anymore

Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell are two of the most respected legal tech commentators around. They are ten times smarter and 100 times more well known than I.  (Or maybe its 100 times smarter and 10 times more well known. In any event, you get my point). So disagreeing with them may be the dumbest thing I have another done. But here goes. Continue Reading You Disagree With Kennedy & Mighell? Are You Out of Your Mind?

Many of your know that I’m a big fan of Nicole Abboud’s podcast, GenY Lawyer. It’s supposedly designed for millennials but you wouldn’t know it by me. It’s really about life and coping with day to day problems, big and small, we all face in the legal profession (no matter what your role) and life itself. Continue Reading As Soon As I Publish This, I’m Going To Stop Worrying About It



Yesterday, ALM released its financial summary for the AmLaw 200.  (The AmLaw 200 consists of firms whose gross revenue is lower than that of the top 100 firms but above that of firms 200 and down. I previously discussed ALM’s findings concerning the financial picture of the AmLaw 100).  ALM summarized the results yesterday in a webinar held by Gina Passarella, Editor in Chief of the American Lawyer, Ben Seal, an ALM Managing Editor, and Nick Bruch, ALM analyst.

The results: like Sergio Leone’s old spaghetti western film, the financial status of the AmLaw 200 can best be described as some good, some bad and some really ugly. Continue Reading The AmLaw 200: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly