Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that Tesla “is building a hardcore litigation department where we directly initiate & execute lawsuits.” The lawyers will report directly to him. Said Musk, “Looking for hardcore streetfighters, not white-shoe lawyers like Perkins or Cooley who thrive on corruption.”
 
Musk is soliciting responses from lawyers. Those interested should send him 3 to 5 bullet points about how they qualify presumably as streetfighters.  Musk’s finally shot: “We will never seek victory in a just cause against us, even if we will probably win. We will never surrender/settle an unjust case against us, even if we will probably lose.”
Some of the best trial lawyers I know are in small to mid-size firms
 

Continue Reading Do Streetfighters Make Better Lawyers?

Early on in the ABA’s most recent annual diversity Survey Report, the authors quote the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr: “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. The bottom line from this year’s Survey is summed up in one sentence from the Report:  “White attorneys, male attorneys, non-LGBTQ+ attorneys, and attorneys without disabilities dominate in representation within law firms and therefore in hires, promotions, leadership, and compensation”.
The Survey confirms pretty much what all the other similar Surveys from the ABA and elsewhere show year after year. Let’s face it: by and large, the legal profession is one of the last bastions of old white male domination. From equity partnership to compensation to associate hiring, being a white male entitles you to the keys to the legal kingdom. I have written about this here and here and here and here and here. You have to wonder what needs to happen for there to be any significant change.

Continue Reading When Will We Ever Learn: The Sad State of Diversity in Our Legal Profession 

Early this week, Richard Tromans at Artificial Lawyer reported on a Survey done by the ContractWorks group of Onit. Onit is an enterprise workflow solutions provider. Onit acquired ContractWorks earlier this year.

 

ContractWorks surveyed some 350 general counsel, in-house lawyers, and other legal department members in the United States and the United Kingdom. The purpose of the Survey was to determine their satisfaction (or lack thereof) with tech implementation within their departments.

Continue Reading Legal Tech: a 77% Failure Rate?

A couple of commentators noted the announcement by AmLaw 100 firm Hogans Lovells last week that making partner requires “being all in .” According to Hogans Lovell, being all in typically means 2400 hours per year. (Hogans Lovell says it recognizes this “goal” could be achieved by billable hours and “further contributions .” But Hogans is clear that a “significant portion” of these hours will be client chargeable work).

As Hannah Walker noted in her excellent article, an associate would have to work on average 10 hours per day to achieve this goal. In her follow-up article, she correctly points out that it’s not so much that Hogans has a target (many firms have unspoken similar billable hour targets). What’s really noteworthy is that Hogans has publicly thrown down a hours gauntlet to its associates.

Continue Reading Want To Make Partner? Bill 10 Hours a Day. Every Day

Law firms and legal departments need a legal operations platforms that allow adaptability and individuality within an overall system and parameters. And firm management needs the ability to assess what’s being done, and its profitability, and compare the business lines of a firm and legal department. Litify believes the future is cloud based platforms that provide this kind of adaptability and flexibility. 
 
Litify, an end-to-end legal ops platform for law firms and legal departments, recently announced a partnership with The Noble Law. The Noble Law is a women-owned plaintiffs’ employment law firm. It was founded on principles of diversity, empathy, equity, integrity, inclusion, and innovation. Litify will provide the firm with a view of their clients, cases, and staff at all levels.
 
According to Laura Noble, founder and managing partner of The Noble Law, “Having data at our fingertips allows us to move quickly and thoroughly respond to our client’s needs and help them navigate what is typically a very stressful process,… Litify’s cloud-based technology will empower our staff to collaborate with clients more efficiently while enabling data-driven decisions to support successful outcomes.” The firm plans to use the Litify platform to centralize workflows and case information.

Continue Reading Litify Sees Adaptablity and Flexibility As The Future of Legal Ops Platforms

I just returned from helping teach a 2 ½ day intensive training workshop for trial lawyers. The workshop focuses on how to better use technology in the courtroom and to persuade generally. The workshop and program, called FedTechU, is put on by the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (better known as the FDCC and of which I am a proud member). It is held annually; of course, this is the first workshop in a couple of years due to Covid.

Continue Reading Three Lessons In Persuasive Trial Technology

In the following Guest Post, Aaron Lee discusses the challenges and opportunities facing small to midsize law firms. A new era of outsourcing services is a breath of fresh air for small and mid-sized law firms, allowing them to survive and thrive not only despite, but because of the Great Resignation.

Aaron Lee is the CEO and Co-Founder of Smith.ai. He is the ex-CTO of The Home Depot and co-founder of Redbeacon, acquired by Home Depot in 2012.

 

COVID-19 forced workers ‘round the world to re-evaluate their lives at the same time – and what we ended up with was the Great Resignation. 

After two years of lockdown and turmoil, employees in fields ranging from legal to retail to tech have been voting with their feet in favor of a better work-life balance. Across the board, people are now prioritizing family wellbeing, flexibility, and career satisfaction over rigid hours, urban living, and unfulfilling roles. Despite offering generous compensation, companies struggle to fill open positions that don’t meet the demands of the post-COVID-19 workforce. In fact, LinkedIn’s newest Workplace Confidence Survey shows that 40 percent of Gen Z employees would be willing to take a pay cut for a more enjoyable role, or one that offered them a better chance of career growth. 

Continue Reading Small and Midsize Law Firms Turn to Virtual Tech to Grow Business in the Teeth of the Great Resignation

Over the past couple of weeks, there were a couple of developments that could—and I emphasize could—impact the business of law.
 
First, California has flirted off and on for a while now with changing the ownership rules for law firms and allowing nonlawyer ownership. Unlike regulators in Utah and Arizona, though, the good folks in California have never been able to bit the bullet and allow ownership by anyone but full-fledged lawyers. Recently, another California committee once again closed the door. The first was a report out of California.

Continue Reading Two Recent Ethical Developments Could Impact the Business End of Law Practice

BriefCatch yesterday announced the launch of BriefCatch 3 to help legal professionals improve legal writing. The new version makes BriefCatch available for the first time to Mac users, features real-time editing, a rebuilt rules engine, enhanced Natural Language Processing and AI, and more.

 

According to the Press Release, BriefCatch now offers more than 11,000 on-demand, legal-specific writing suggestions. These recommendations will help lawyers make more persuasive arguments. It can also help judges write better opinions.

Continue Reading BriefCatch and Ross Guberman: Three Important Insights

Avocado teapots. Cats playing chess. How new technology mandates a level of judicial technological competence and understanding. 

 

Bluntly put, judges exist to serve litigants who have disputes. The business of the judiciary is to facilitate the resolution of disputes–whether the dispute is resolved by the judge, a jury or through settlement. Judges are in a service business: like every other service business these days, judges need some basic familiarity and understanding of relevant technology.

 

.A new technology caught my eye last week that drives this point home. DALL-E, a technology that lets you create digital images by typing in what you want to see, was discussed in a recent New York Times article by Cade Metz. The technology was developed by an outfit called OpenAI, which is backed by a billion dollars in funding from Microsoft. According to OpenAI, DALL-E is “trained to generate images from text descriptions, using a dataset of text–image pairs”. It is a “new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language.”

Continue Reading To Serve Their Customers, Judges Need To Understand Technology