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.

Continue Reading The Legal Profession in 2019: Exclusion Or Delusion?

I recently had the opportunity to try out and use an IPEVO VZ-X Wireless, HDMI & USB 8MP Document Camera. Document cameras are the overhead projectors of today. They enable you to show on your computer screen or through a projector a real-time image of whatever on which you focus the camera. With apps, you can then generally annotate the image, draw on it, or even add text. Continue Reading There’s Still a Place for Document Review Cameras

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.

Continue Reading SmallCon 2019: A Tale of Two Conferences


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

Continue Reading Stop The Insanity. Kill The Billable Hour.

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.

Continue Reading Data Analytics and Legal Bills: The Holy Grail?

The giant legal services provider, LexisNexis and Knowable, one of the leaders in enterprise contract intelligence, today announced that they have entered into an joint venture agreement. Knowable was spun off from Axiom Global Inc. in February 2019. Mark Harris and Alec Guettel, Axiom’s co-founders, will lead Knowable as CEO and CFO respectively.

Knowable provides machine-learning enabled contract data analytics and related contract intelligence solutions. Knowable’s products allow their corporate clients to peer deeply into the contract relationships and gain greater understandings of their business activities, risks, and values. Knowable essentially converts the massive amount of non-structured data in its clients’ contracts that are often in non searchable PDF format and which frequently contain arcane and non standardized prose. By converting this language into structured data, Knowable helps its clients understand the vast amount of information in their contracts, providing a global view of risks, obligations, entitlements and compliance. It can also enlighten exposures created by contracts as well as businesses opportunities, says Harris.

Continue Reading LexisNexis, Knowable Announce Joint Venture

Want to know what litigation analytic product to use?

Some 27 librarians tested 7 platforms of the most well litigation analytics providers to see which one was the best. They presented their findings at the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) annual meeting this week in Washington D.C.

The platforms evaluated were those offered by Bloomberg Law, Docket Alarm, Docket Navigator, Lex Machina, Lexis Context, Monitor Suite and WestLaw Edge. The test panel consisted of law librarians who asked the platforms sixteen real world questions. The questions were the kind most legal professionals would expect litigation analytics would be able to answer, like how many times a certain lawyer had appeared before a certain judge or how many class action matters a firm had defended. The answers, of course, could only be derived from federal court data.

The short answers: these platforms do slightly different things and work in slightly different ways so there is no real winner. And the platforms work best when they are run by an experienced, well trained people who then manually review and analyze the results. Continue Reading AALL’s Litigation Data Analytics Competition: 5 Take Aways

Thomson Reuters and WestLaw today announced the release of an enhanced legal research platform called Quick Check as part of their WestLaw Edge suite of products. Quick Check uses sophisticated algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning to search and find better and more relevant cites and authorities to use in legal writing.

It works like this: you upload your document securely into the WestLaw Edge cloud and Quick Check then searches for and provides citations and authorities that you did not include. It arranges these by various headings and into a relevancy hierarchy. It also will tell you whether the citations you have used are troublesome or perhaps not totally on the mark, perhaps triggering some more thought about those citations. According to WestLaw, Quick Check will find highly relevant authority, secondary sources and other related briefs and memoranda to ensure that its customers find what they might have otherwise missed. It will also prepare a Table of Authorities, a pain in the ass portion of any brief no matter who does it. Continue Reading WestLaw Announces Quick Check

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.

Continue Reading Lawyers Are In the Information Business. Get Over It