It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.

Macbeth

About a week ago, I published a piece entitled Profession in Crisis, which summarized a recent ABA Report on the status of our profession offered and discussed at this year’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In that post, I focused on the Report’s statistics reflecting the lack of diversity in the profession, the lack of women in leadership positions and the alarming rate of suicide, depression and problem drinking within our profession that the Report revealed.

I also cited Daniel Rodriguez’ conclusion offered at the session in which the Report was discussed: young people are no longer interested in becoming lawyers. In my mind, the statistics in the Report and Dan’s conclusions were alarming and suggested a profession in crisis. (Particularly since so little progress has been made on all these fronts for so long).

Many of you read the post and commented favorably and even offered suggestions to make the post better. Some of you respectfully disagreed with some of my conclusions or offered other helpful commentaries. I thank you all who took the time to do that.

But apparently, the post and my conclusions didn’t sit well with at least one commentator who runs a well known and heavily marketed consulting service. This person somehow believed the best response to the statistics and my conclusions would be to hurl insults and resort to name-calling rather than respond meaningfully.

In a long, meandering rant, he called me a “massively clueless tech zealot” for suggesting that a high rate of suicide in the profession and the lack of progress with diversity and women in leadership is alarming

In a long meandering rant, he called me a “massively clueless tech zealot” for suggesting that a high rate of suicide in the profession and the lack of progress with diversity and women in leadership is alarming. (How being a clueless tech zealot has anything to do with a lack of diversity in our profession or the rampant depression from which we suffer is a bit beyond me). He labeled me a “boondoggler” and “bloviator” and likened me to the proverbial emperor with no clothes for speaking out.

He suggested that relying on data as opposed to common sense is misplaced. He opined that questions raised by another commentator about how things like the pervasiveness of google may be effecting our profession and whether and to what extent lawyers should know something about things like coding were “embarrassing.”

He even attacked a well known legal software provider for offering a well attended Conference with “lame” sessions and for not delivering useful information. The last time I attended this same conference, my commentator friend was there, looking for clients and snarfing up food and drink.

I won’t bother calling out the commentator or giving him any more credence or publicity than he deserves. But here, again, are the statistics from the ABA Report:

  • 85% of the profession is white
  • 80% of our federal judges are white
  • Less than 20% of law firm partners are women
  • 28% of lawyers report suffering from depression
  • 20% report suffering from severe anxiety
  • 10% report suicidal thoughts
  • 21% report problem drinking.

And the list goes on. Perhaps the commentator thinks this is not alarming or even relevant but I sure as hell do.

Let’s face it: no amount of name-calling or disagreement with my conclusions can change the numbers. No amount of shouting about my qualifications or lack thereof can change the data. No amount of trying to downplay the importance of the numbers by spouting about “common sense” can change the facts.

The real fact is for too long many in the profession have responded to diversity issues and mental health concerns by either ignoring the facts or denigrating those who speak out.

The real fact is for too long many in the profession have responded to diversity issues and mental health concerns by either ignoring the facts or denigrating those who speak out. For too long, we have poo-pooed legitimate concerns of women, people of color, and those suffering from mental health issues. For too long, we have tried to hide what data shows by appealing to common sense and intuition over analytics and science. It is just these kinds of reactions that got us into this mess to begin with.

It bears repeating: our profession is still 85% white, we have made almost no progress promoting women in law firm leadership roles and we suffer from depression and alchoholism in high levels. And we fail to serve over 80% of the population.

Those are the facts. No amount of mudslinging by middle-aged white men who have benefited from the lack of diversity can change them.

Those are the facts. No amount of mudslinging by middle-aged white men who have benefited from the lack of diversity can change them.

Name calling to obfuscate facts you don’t like or trying to bully those who say something you prefer not to be true to distract an audience seems to be a common strategy these days. But let’s not let it distract us in facing up to the realities the ABA statistics show. It’s too important to our future.

By the way,  I practiced law for 35 years. I know a bully when I see one.


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Over the past couple of weekends, I attended two conferences, one in Nashville and one in the suburbs of Chicago. One was legal. One was not. Both were small events with less than 200 attendees. And while they were both different substantively, they both had the same informal, sharing type feel where real conversations can and do happen.

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Today in the American Lawyer, a frank and insightful open letter from Dentons senior partner Jana Cohen Barbe was published. The message was directed primarily toward the devastating toll the billable hour model is taking on our mental health and our profession.

The pressure to work seven days a week, to miss family events, to forgo vacations, to miss needed doctor’s appointments—can not be overstated


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I have been intrigued of late with the potential power of big data and data analytics to disrupt the practice of law and provide insights into areas previously governed by lawyer “gut instinct.” For example, litigation data analytics can provide useful and significant insights into such things as experience and tendencies of opposing counsel, judicial inclinations, and timing. Analytics is revolutionizing the counsel selection process as clients use data to learn the truth about lawyer marketing claims and determine the best fit for matters.

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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.


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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.
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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.
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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.
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Some of you may have noticed the blog has a new logo on the About page, and the description of the blog has changed a bit.

Here’s the back story to the changes. As most of you know, I practiced law for some 30+ years before leaving to become a full-time blogger. At first, I wasn’t really sure where I or the blog was going, but I was reasonably sure I would figure it out. So if you look at some of the articles, you will see subjects meandering from tech, to change management, to innovation and even substantive legal discussions along the way.
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