I recently almost didn’t attend a Conference in my hometown. I almost didn’t go because a) it was not necessarily in my field (lawyer) and b) it was in my hometown (no one is a prophet in their own land, right?). (The Conferance was actually put on by the Louisville Digital Association, a local organization that’s more or less about all things digital and the Conference was really more about digital marketing and media than anything else).

But I did go and something remarkable happened…I learned things. New things. And my head immediately started applying the things I was learning to my field. It was magical. Even one of the speakers who I introduced myself too afterwards said “I saw you sitting there. Your head was going a hundred miles an hour. What energy you brought!”

So often we do a benefit cost analysis on things we don’t know enough about to fairly assess

And it was true. So often we do a benefit cost analysis on things we don’t know enough about to fairly assess. We think: well that might be interesting but then again it might not be. Or that would be interesting but I really don’t necessarily see how it applies to me or my profession. The ROI is not clear. It’s a boondoggle and a waste. Quickly we revert to risk aversion and decide its not worth it. And organizations and bureaucracies are particularly adept at learn killing.But the strange thing is we can’t know the future value of something when we make the assessment. As Steve Jobs put it, you can only connect the dots looking backward. If Jobs had said to himself, you know that calligraphy course looks really interesting but I’m now sure it will help me with my major and it might be boring so I won’t go, we might never have had Apple. If Mark Zuckerberg had said it would really be fun and interesting to do the Facebook but I can’t really see the ROI, we might not have Facebook.

Learning is a funny thing. We have it in our heads it is something we do when we are young and in school. We mouth cliches like “life long learner” but then dismiss the value by in practice downplaying that espoused value. But its through learning that energy and passion come, from energy and passion come ideas and application, from ideas and application come innovation. I think this may be why the so called young digital natives seem more adapt at things like technology. It’s not that they know more necessarily, its that they are willing, excited learners. They take risks.

Learning, particularly life long learning, involves taking a risk with our time and treasure

 

And make no mistake, by its very nature, learning, particularly life long learning, involves taking a risk with our time and treasure. We don’t want to take the risk that learning something new will create no value and waste our time. But I don’t think that’s every really totally true. All learning is good—and risky. But if my life experience has thought me one thing it is that while learning new things may not pay off now, it will someday and often in ways we often can’t even imagine. Some of the best ideas I ever had came from unexpected sources while being exposed to new things. Not to mention the fact that learning new things is exciting, inspiring and often just plain fun.

So go to conferences. Stretch. Get out of your field and comfort zone. Learn something new. Apply and innovate. Get excited. I almost didn’t go…. but I did. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Photo Attribution: Denise Krebs via Flickr

I read with interest Bob Ambrogi’s recent post  on the lack of change in the legal industry. Bob’s view is that while many of us talk and talk about the great changes in store for the legal profession that will move us forward, nothing seems to happen. It’s as if we are housed in a giant echo chamber.

My own view is that until the clients demand change, us outside lawyers ain’t gonna.

Continue Reading If I Were King: Five Things I Would Demand of My Lawyers

So, the 2018 ILTA Conference opened today. ILTA calls itself the “premier peer networking organization, providing information to members to maximize the value of technology in support of the legal profession.” This year’s version sported record attendance and enthusiastic crowds even though just as last year, there was a leadership crisis on the eve of the conference–the CEO “resigned” just days before the start–and even though for some reason ILTA decided to crack down on press passes and some say selectively apply its media criteria. Continue Reading ILTA Keynote: That Will Never Happen. Until It Does

The other day I came across an article by one of my favorite writers, Lee Rosen. Lee was a successful lawyer who decided he didn’t want to spend his life sitting in an office in North Carolina but instead wanted to see the world AND practice law. How he did that, and the lessons it holds for all of us is for another day and time.

The essence of Lee’s recent article that caught my eye was his conclusion about the need to have a vision first and then act. Continue Reading About That Vision Thing


Standard innovation theory tells us that we move from an early adoption phase to mainstream very quickly. This is in part true because our  behaviors are influenced by our peers, how widespread we think the use of a particular product is and how well known the provider of the product is to us. This is particularly the case where the product saves time, is easy to use and produces a better result. And all this is especially true in the legal profession.

If true, then Thomson Reuters’ new Westlaw products announced today may be the event that takes AI and data analytics into the mainstream for the legal profession. Continue Reading Westlaw Edge: AI For Lawyers Goes Mainstream?

Litera Microsystems recently announced a new publication called The Changing Lawyer. So, yawn, what’s so new about that?

Turns out there is something new. Like most vendors, Litera Microsystems (which it insists it be referred to as instead of any shortened version of its name), one of the larger document management service and technology providers with a complete range of products in this space, already has a product blog devoted to providing standard information about the products and services it offers. Continue Reading The Changing Lawyer: Litera Microsystems to Offer Its Own Content

A long-time law practice mentor of mine used to say after spending the day with really smart people discussing big problems and solutions, that all that thinking gave him a headache. If that’s the case then Carl would have had colossal migraine if, like me, he participated in the Building a Better Lawyer” Design Thinking Workshop at Michigan State University College of Law yesterday. (Want to see more? See  #betterlawyer). Continue Reading LegalRnD’s Workshop on Building a Better Lawyer: Can Law Schools Lead Us Out of the Wilderness?

Every year I try to make it a point to attend the Consumer Electronics show in Law Vegas. This week-long show is a gadget lover’s dream. Thousands of exhibits, lots of demos, plenty of substantive sessions and keynotes by such people as Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, (Ajit Pai was supposed to speak but for some strange reason, he bowed out after the net neutrality vote). I’m lucky enough to have a media pass, so I get lots of inside perks and access.

Knowing where consumer electronics is headed also tells us where businesses and maybe someday, the practice of law is headed

Why do I, a practicing lawyer, attend? First, I’m a tech enthusiast or, should I say, a gadget king. But more than that, I think knowing where consumer electronics is headed also tells us where businesses and maybe someday, the practice of law is headed as consumer electronics filter over into commercial use. And one of the things I have concluded this year after just a couple of days here is that where the practice of law and lawyers may be headed is a little scary. Continue Reading The End of Lawyers May Not Be What You Think

I recently almost didn’t attend a Conference in my hometown. I almost didn’t go because a) it was not necessarily in my field (lawyer) and b) it was in my hometown (no one is a prophet in their own land, right?). (The Conferance was actually put on by the Louisville Digital Association, a local organization that’s more or less about all things digital and the Conference was really more about digital marketing and media than anything else).

But I did go and something remarkable happened…I learned things. New things. And my head immediately started applying the things I was learning to my field. It was magical. Even one of the speakers who I introduced myself too afterwards said “I saw you sitting there. Your head was going a hundred miles an hour. What energy you brought!” Continue Reading Life Long Learning: Profess It. Live It