A couple of years ago, I decided to go bare ass screenless for one day a week in efforts to get away from social media, emails, text message and visual noise pollution.

I thought about my decision and its impact recently as I was listening to Nicole Abboud’s podcast episode about her 30-day detox (as she calls it) from social media. I’m a big fan of Abboud’s Gen Y Lawyer Podcast even though I’m a bit removed from Gen Y at least chronologically. Abboud’s podcasts are always thought-provoking and stimulating no matter your age or status in life.

Like many of us, Abboud uses her social media accounts as a business development tool as well as a purely social one. Those of us who aspire to be thought leaders often feel compelled to be always “on” our social media accounts staying abreast of events, getting ahead of developments and offering (we hope) enlightened comments to draw an audience and get business.

Before you know it, we start to value and spend more time on social media than on real personal interactions, reading, and just plain reflecting.

But as Abboud points out, this effort has a dark side as well as we get more and more consumed by social media and try to do and say more. And as lawyers (or ex-lawyers), we remain highly competitive, driven A-personalities’ which fuels us even more. Before you know it, we start to value and spend more time on social media than on real personal interactions, reading, and just plain reflecting.

So Abboud detoxed for 30 days and, in her podcast, talks about what she discovered: more creativity. Less distraction. Less affected by what was going on in the outside world. Improved self-esteem as she quit comparing herself to others and began thinking more about her own self-worth.

But she also notes that there was an impact on her business from this experiment: lost opportunities that presented themselves during her social media rehab.

Abboud talks about what she learned and has now vowed to spend a maximum of 1 hour per day on social media to maintain better balance in her life.

All good ideas and I agree with her to a point. Like Abboud, I felt some time ago that I was also spending too much time on social media and looking at screens. That I was always “occupied” with something on a screen and ignoring what was going on around me.

My solution though was a little different. Instead of detoxing completely, I decided to take one day a week-Sunday-and spend as much time as I could that day without looking at a screen. I reasoned that not as much happens on Sunday business wise and I wouldn’t miss much other than perhaps some new cat pics. It was also a day that historically at least was more of a family day, so it was easier to fall into.

So, I’ve been holding my personal Screenless Day off and on now for a couple of years. When I say screenless, I mean screenless.

So, I’ve been holding my personal Screenless Day off and on now for a couple of years. When I say screenless, I mean screenless. If I want to read a book, it’s a paper one. If I want to catch up on the news, it’s a paper newspaper (yes, they still make such things). I don’t read Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. I don’t read emails or anything else online. I listen to music on CDs instead of on my iPhone. If I watch a movie, I go to the movies or watch TV.

If I make any notes, I use a fountain pen and a paper notebook. I do keep my phone with me in case of emergency calls or texts from family, but it typically stays in my pocket.

Yes, I do go to some extremes, and I could likely accomplish the same thing by just signing off Twitter et al. for a day. But I feel like a cleaner break gives me and forces me to take more time to reflect and think. I want to experience, the best I can for, at least for a whole day what it’s like to go analog and screenless.

And it’s a slippery slope for me: if I text a colleague, it’s pretty easy to then take a peek at Twitter, and then it’s pretty easy to slide back into old habits. (This is enhanced by the sad fact I don’t do anything if it’s not to an extreme).

So, is it worth it? I think so. Sundays have become my day to relax. To be contemplative. Like Abboud, I found a source of creativity that grows out of just sittin and thinkin. And there is something about reading a paper book. It’s more methodical and seems like there is more time for it to sink in. As I have written before, I don’t know if this is because this is really the case or if it’s the case because we think it’s the case. Doesn’t really matter.

I’ve noticed by the way that they sell all kinds of stuff at Starbucks).

I also spend time during this reflective period following James Altucher’s recommendation of coming up and writing down big ideas for me to think about doing. I call them my personal moon shots and these range from learning to speak Chinese to be an intern at a tech company to going back to school and a bunch of other crazy shit I won’t tell you about. The point is, as Abboud put it, a hiatus from social media and, for me, screens in general-gives you time to do some dreaming. (Although I admit, it did take me a little time to figure out what to do in Starbucks when I wasn’t looking at my phone. I’ve noticed by the way that they sell all kinds of stuff at Starbucks).

I do part company with Abboud a little bit though on her suggestion to limit social media interactions to one hour per day to achieve the same benefits. Some days that may not be possible for me especially if there is a hot topic for discussion or I want to say something complicated on Twitter and still meet the character limits. As a result, at least for me, taking a whole day off on Sunday seems to work a bit better. But it doesn’t really matter: I’m convinced it’s essential to have a small break; to get away from all the noise and spend some time reflecting and thinking. Daydreaming. Relaxing.

Wasting time and daydreaming: Who knew they would be such refreshing and beneficial ways to spend time.

I look forward to my Screenless Day. I wake up more relaxed and the day just seems more peaceful. I’ve even quit feeling guilty for not pushing myself one day a week and “wasting” time.

Wasting time and daydreaming: Who knew they would be such refreshing and beneficial ways to spend time.

Photo Attribution:

@campaign_creaters via Unsplash

@joannkosinska via Unsplash

It’s funny the lessons diversity can teach you about blind spots. About your unconscious bias. Even when you don’t know you have them.

Yesterday, I posted an article on a tech conference I attended where there were no women speakers and where I thought there was a lack of persons of color presenters. I included a picture of a panel which I thought demonstrated this point. Except it didn’t.

Unquestionably, there were no women on the panel or presenting at the conference. But shortly after posting, one of my Asian friends pointed out that there was indeed an Asian American on the panel. Second from the right. Continue Reading I Stand Corrected: A Lesson In Unconscious Bias

“The future of AI is being built by a relatively few like-minded people within small insulated groups”
Amy Webb, The Big Nine.

Today I attended the a conference called SAS Analytics Day: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Symposium at University of Louisville. (Or as explained below, I attend part of the Conferance). This was a technical conferance for the most part; I grasped maybe 10% of what was discussed but I thought it would be worth the effort. Continue Reading What’s Wrong With This Picture?

LexisNexis yesterday announced that its subsidiary client relationship management (CRM) product, Interaction would  now work seamlessly with Microsoft® Outlook, Excel and Word-three applications that many lawyers typically use. InterAction® for Office 365® is available for both desktop and subscription versions of Office, including those running on Mac and IOS. It allows you to access your firm’s client relationship data and information about clients and potential clients while using Outlook, Excel and Word with a click or, eventually even automatically. Its compatible with 365 or the 2016 and 2019 versions. This is a significant new tool which should aid firms in business development. Continue Reading LexisNexis Announces Interaction— Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel Integration

Is AI real in law? Are most successful legal applications just software? Micah Grupp  raises some interesting points in his recent article entitled Facts About AI and Law You Always Wanted to Know. I’m not sure I agree with everything he says (Headline: Grupp takes a pretty jaundiced view of AI in law).  But it is true that what a lot of companies call AI really isn’t as they seek to capitalize on AI as a hot topic.  This doesn’t necessarily make their products bad (some are quite good) but it does confuse the concept of what AI is and can do. (Most have heard the old joke: its AI until we understand it. Then its just software). Continue Reading AI and Legal Application

Wilson Sonsini and its new tech ancillary business, SixFifty, may be ushering in a new wave for providing legal services and law firm marketing. The combination promises to provide automated legal services for more commodity type services under the Wilson Sonsini brand in hopes that it will generate more lucrative business for Wilson Sonsini later.

 

Background
Continue Reading Wilson Sonsini/SixFifty: a New Wave for Legal Services (And Damn Good Marketing)

I often get asked by lawyers: what legal tech should I purchase and, relatedly, how in the hell can I know what I need to know about tech and keep up with it. It’s an ongoing source of frustration: lawyers constantly hear they need to be tech savvy but are clueless how to get there.

That’s why I really like a new book by Sharon Nelson, John Simek and Michael Maschke entitled Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide. I’ve known Sharon and John for several years through the ABA’s Law Practice Division and admire and respect their knowledge about legal tech and process, so I was excited to see that they put their knowledge on paper for all to access.

Continue Reading Wondering What Legal Tech to Buy: Look No Further

I was fortunate enough to be invited to and attend last week’s Solid West Summit on Legal Innovation and Disruption in San Francisco. The Solid conferences are the brainchild of David Cowen, who runs the Cowen Group, a legal recruitment, professional development and thought leadership agency. The Summit describes itself as a “TED Talk style summit focused on innovation and the business of law”. David holds Solid Summits at various national and international locations throughout the year.

The Summit Format

The conferences are by invite only and Dave routinely draws some of the top thinkers in the legal tech and innovation space including Chief Innovation Officers from some the country’s largest firms, practicing lawyers, leading product and service providers and thought leaders. Primarily– although not exclusively– geared toward larger business and commercial firms, it’s one of those conferences that you leave tired, stimulated and a little intimidated by the smarts of the people you hear from. Continue Reading Solid West Summit:10 Legal Innovation & Disruption Highlights

Thomson Reuters today announced a new legal workflow solution that it claims will enable firms to better plan, manage and execute legal matters with enhanced data and data analytics. A cloud-based system, Thomson Reuters PanoramicTM is built on TR’s Practical Law’s legal guidance platform and its 3E financial management system to better connect the front office of a law firm—where the legal work is handled—to the back office—where law firm financials are monitored and analyzed.

TR says Panoramic is specifically directed toward large and mid sized firms although it’s primary beneficiaries in my opinion may turn out to be the more innovative mid size firms (the AmLaw firms in the 100-200 range) who lack the resources and systems of some of the very large firms. As I have previously noted, it is, in fact, these mid size firms that will be most under threat in today’s changing legal marketplace. But because of their generally reduced cost structures and overhead, some of these firms, those that choose to distinguish themselves in the market, also have a big upside potential. And tools like Panoramic, if vigorously adopted (which is an if, as discussed below), could enable this capitalization. Continue Reading Thomson Reuters Announces Panoramic: New Tools With the Mid-Size Law Firm In Mind


I have written before about the Big 4 accounting firms and the threat that these firms may pose for U.S. lawyers and law firms.

The response has typically been a bit like that of the first two pigs in the old 3 Little Pigs nursery rhyme who arrogantly believed their houses of straw and twigs would protect them from the Big Bad Wolf. Going into last week’s Legalweek in New York, several legal pundits (and lawyers) made it a point to tell me Big 4 encroachment on U.S. legal can’t happen. That Sarbanes-Oxley won’t allow it. That the Big 4 don’t make enough profits to do it. That they can’t do what U.S. law firms and lawyers do. That the Big 4 isn’t at all interested in the U.S. market. That they certainly have no business or strategic plans pointed in our direction. I was starting to conclude they were right. Continue Reading U.S. Law and The Big Four: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?