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.
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“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.
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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.
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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).
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Roy Storm of ALM broke the news early this week that Casey Flaherty, owner of the consulting firm Procertas and former GC of Kia along with legal pundit Jae Um will join the legal bemouth, Baker McKenzie. They will join recently added David Cambria, affectionately called the “Godfather of legal operations,” in an effort, according to the firm, to  “reengineer the delivery of legal services.”

When I first heard the news, I was reminded of (and tweeted out) the question posed to Winston Churchill: “Sir, are you ready to meet your maker?” Sir Winston’s response: “Yes but is he ready to meet the likes of me?” And that’s the big question here.
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I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. Bob Dylan

It’s certainly commonplace to do an end of the year post reflecting on what happened during the year and the highlights and lowlights. But in my case, 2018 was anything but commonplace. It was a year in which my world–professional and personal–was turned inside out and upside down.  A year when the impossible, the improbable and the unthinkable occurred. A year I learned acceptance.
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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


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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.


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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.
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