Defeating the Robots: How Lawyers Avoid Becoming Obsolete

Special Guest – Joshua Lenon Download this Episode: Download Audio The Robots Are Coming Joshua Lenon is the “Attorney-in-Residence” at Clio, one of the leading cloud-based legal practice management platforms. As a practicing attorney, fresh out of law school, Joshua was frustrated by how unprepared he felt for the practice of law. As he described it, everything was four times harder than it needed to be. Joining Clio has given him the opportunity to help address that problem. As the only practicing attorney working for Clio, Joshua is in a unique position to provide advice, assistance, and troubleshooting for all different areas of Clio’s business. Apart from translating legal needs into “tech speak,” he acts as the educational lead for outreach programs like the Legal Hacking movement. At the forefront of legal technology, Joshua has a different perspective on the future of legal services, so I asked him about being replaced by robots: Will Lawyers Be Replaced By Robots? A recent story on NPR’s Planet Money decided to take research from a recent journal article on computerization and find out what certain jobs’ chances are of being automated. The authors of the original report score a variety of jobs based on 9 different categories, but found that four were the most important: Do you need to come up with clever solutions? Are you required to personally help others? Does your job require you to squeeze into small spaces? Does your job require negotiation? Based on lawyers (apparently) needing to be clever, frequently negotiating, and refusing to squeeze into small spaces, there’s only a 3% of the job being given... read more

9 Shameless, Uncensored Tips to Boost Your Paperless Office

It seems like the concept of the Paperless Office has been around for quite a while. There have been whispers about it ever since email gained wide use in the 90s, and a few daring individuals like Ernie Svenson demonstrated it was possible back in the 2000s. However, in the two years since I started this blog, there has been remarkable progress. Not remarkable enough, though, to allow Paperless Office advocates to quiet their gospel. Unfortunately, one byproduct of this situation is that there are only limited attempts to define Paperless 2.0 (in the event nobody has claimed that, DIBS! – although I doubt I’m first) really is. Most law firms aren’t really ready for Paperless 2.0. Too many of us are willing to achieve a business-development goal, and then bury our heads back in our case files for a few years, assuming the problem to be solved. But some are ready. Some technology-adopting lawyers are hungry for the next advantage, and seek out the new and untested. For you, here is my challenge: Take your Paperless Office to the next level! Will you accept my Paperless 2.0 Challenge? I accept the Paperless 2.0 Challenge! #NextLevelPaperless Click To Tweet 1) Your Paperless Office began with purchasing the right equipment… You knew that a Paperless Office was going to be digital-heavy, and you planned ahead. You purchased new computers, and if you were smart, you got those high-speed terminals without expensive hard drives. You replaced your many printers with one multi-purpose machine – but you use it mostly for scanning. You put desktop scanners at every workstation, and you use... read more

Net Neutrality: In Support of the 2015 Open Internet Order [Slideshow]

Yesterday, I participated in a debate sponsored by Johnson & Wales University and the Bastiat Society, a libertarian organization, regarding Net Neutrality. Specifically, I argued in support of the recently adopted 2015 Open Internet Order. I don’t envy opponents of Net Neutrality. For the most part, opponents seem to be either direct supporters of the Internet Service Providers, or those who have a more general objection to government regulation. My opponent, Brent Skorup of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, made a strong presentation aligned with the latter, indicating that he doesn’t trust the FCC to ensure protection of the internet. As I said in the debate, I don’t envy those who have to argue against the rule. Wisely, the FCC kept the application narrow, and specifically countered some of the strongest arguments that those opposing reclassification of ISPs as common carriers generally make. The reason they’re strong arguments is that they’re good points. Check out my presentation and information (including sources) from my presentation below: The internet will not be the same without net neutrality. Net Neutrality: In Support of the 2015 Open Internet Order from Brian Focht Following the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Verizon v. FCC, 740 F.3d 623 (D.C. Cir. 2014), striking down the 2010 Open Internet Order, the FCC sought comment on new proposed rules for protecting the open and innovative nature of the internet. Among the questions to be considered was whether Broadband Internet Service Providers should be classified as “telecommunication services,” and thus being subject to “common carrier” provisions. The FCC ultimately decided to reclassify both wireless and wire... read more

4 High Tech Ways to Improve Your Depositions

Last week I had the (good?) fortune to attend two depositions spanning three days in a construction defect case. We represent a fairly peripheral sub-contractor, so despite exceeding 2o total hours, I didn’t get the opportunity to ask a single question. However, we’re not so peripheral that I could completely space out. Over the course of three days, which included the introduction of about 100 exhibits (I’m impressed at the plaintiff’s counsel’s restraint, except when you consider that many exhibits exceeded 250 pages each), I listened intently. Or as intently as possible. Until the other part of my brain, the part that writes this blog, kicked in. I analyzed what I thought was an intelligent, if complicated, system put in place that uses Dropbox for sharing exhibits. But that was really it. No video, no digital exhibits, remote participants listening by phone. I couldn’t help but think that there had to be a better way than this. These ideas, in and of themselves, are not new. Some are even widely implemented in some jurisdictions. But their use is certainly not widespread or universal. Here are 4 High Tech Ways  to Improve Your Depositions: 1) Record the deposition on multiple video feeds The depositions I attended were not videotaped. Personally, I do not understand why anyone wouldn’t record video of a deposition – there are so many benefits. Whether your court reporting service has a videographer, or your paralegal operates a camcorder, you should videotape your depositions. However, I’ve recently learned of a new practice by some court reporter videographers. They use multiple cameras, one trained on the witness, and the other trained... read more

Why Should Lawyers Care About Apple Watch?

As it turns out, there are quite a few reasons. Today marked an impressive event – 200+ million Americans voluntarily arrived at work an hour earlier than the previous week. More impressive – anyone who only arrived 55 minutes early was punished for being late. Oh, and Apple held an event. I tease Apple, mostly because I love Apple. I’m not ashamed to consider myself one of those people who has a line of Apple products. I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro, I’ll research on my iPad Air, and I’ll use my phone to track how it’s doing once posted. I’m also a bit of a tech geek anyway, as you might have noticed. However, I’ve long been skeptical about the concept of smart watches. I set aside my skepticism, and watched Apple’s presentation of the Apple Watch wanting the answer to one question: why should lawyers care? The answer: An emphatic yes. As an aside, yes, I recognize that the Apple Watch isn’t the first smartwatch on the market. And unlike 2007, the Apple Watch isn’t a technological breakthrough like iPhone was. Is Apple Watch better than what’s out there? Early reviews have actually been better than expected, and most seem to put it at least on par with the best available right now. (Oh, and the consensus is that the best currently available isn’t Android either, but rather Pebble.) Yet it’s not the individual features of the Apple Watch that impressed me, but what those individual features mean now that Apple is on the case. Nobody can deny the power of Apples brand awareness, marketing capabilities, and... read more

Does Your Law Firm Need an Enterprise Social Network?

How do you talk to your co-workers? In person? That’s SO 20th Century! Via email? How 2002. Intra-company instant messenger? Don’t even get me started. At least, that appears to be what Facebook and LinkedIn think about it. How else can you explain both companies diving into the enterprise social network game? Both companies want to “revolutionize” the way you communicate within your company. And they want to do it using tools you’re familiar with. Facebook’s new system, helpfully titled Facebook at Work, wants to help you… Facebook… at work. Not to be outdone, LinkedIn, long the refuge for professionals who want to get in on the social media game, is testing its own enterprise systems. Are either of these enterprise social networks going to be useful to your practice? Facebook at Work Enterprise Social Network Have you ever felt like all your office needs to be complete is an enterprise social network? Facebook thinks so! (Either that, or they really want a way to rope in those of your co-workers who don’t use regular Facebook – which has been suggested.) The idea is that your office gets to create its own internal social network. By connecting, all the employees are able to communicate, collaborate, and Facebook-stalk each other in the office. Interestingly enough, this is apparently a public version of Facebook’s internal enterprise social media setup. One of the potential strengths of the system is that Facebook is so popular that everyone is familiar with the platform. That means there will be no learning curve. The true strength of the platform is that it allows for communication, like an internal... read more

7 Expensive Ways Lawyers Fail at Knowledge Management

This post is the second in my continuing series “Knowledge Management for Lawyers” Part 1: 7 Expensive Ways Lawyers Fail at Knowledge Management Part 2: Track Your Results! Part 3: Establish a Routine As an attorney, particularly a litigator, I’m conscious of how much valuable information I carry with me just from my experiences as an attorney.  I’m usually able to tell you right from the start of a case whether discovery will require filing a motion to compel.  I’ll be able to tell approximately how long a mediation will take.  I’ll even be able to predict at what point during the litigation the matter is most likely to settle. I provide better service to my client, and increase the value of the services I provide, as a result of my experience. That’s the essence of knowledge management – a business functions primarily due to the knowledge of its employees.  The best form of knowledge management takes the best of that information so that it can be analyzed, shared, improved upon and reused.  The result is higher quality, more predictable service to our clients, and more efficiency for our firm. So why are we failing at knowledge management? 1) We’re reluctant to rely on the experience of others. Face it: we’re an arrogant bunch.  As lawyers, we tend to believe that we can succeed where others failed.  That attorney couldn’t get the case settled?  We would have been more persuasive at mediation.  That attorney couldn’t keep that document out of evidence?  Our research would have been more on point.  That attorney lost at trial?  The jury would have liked... read more

What’s the Best Evidence of an Obsolete Law Practice?

A dictaphone. I have to admit I was a little surprised to hear this formerly ubiquitous tool of the legal industry identified as the demonstrative vision of an obsolete attorney. Last week, I had the pleasure of being an invited speaker at the 2014 Clio Cloud Conference in Chicago.  Among the presentations I was able to attend was a talk about the future of legal technology by Sam Glover of  Of all the tools and items he could have listed as an example of obsolescence, there it was: the dictaphone. He asked the crowd if anyone still used one.  I didn’t raise my hand.  Sure, I type or use voice recognition for most of my practice, but I have one plugged right next to my monitor (where it most often serves as a speaker).  The senior partners in my firm all still dictate their letters, motions, briefs, and pretty much everything else into their handy dictaphone, to be transcribed by a legal assistant. I knew that full-time use of a dictaphone was probably obsolete, and employing someone for the sole purpose of transcribing your dictation is FAR more expensive than the best voice recognition software available.  Yet even I was surprised by what I found on my return to my office… … because he was completely right. The Dictaphone is Obsolete I hadn’t been back for more than an hour when I spoke to our firm’s office manager, who informed me that we had been contacted by our IT company and told that they would no longer be supporting our dictation equipment.  I didn’t understand – our digital... read more

Best New Apps for Lawyers – January 2014

Ah, January. That time of year when we return to work from the holidays to find that, generally, being away for the holidays didn’t make work any better! So sad. Another sad fact about January – the selection of brand spankin’ new apps is a bit slim. The holidays have passed, and with LegalTech 2014 coming up in February, it’s a little bit more difficult to identify those new apps for lawyers. But I’m no quitter! Here are the Best New Apps for Lawyers from January 2014: iOS: Interviewy by Carl Gresswell, free. We’re starting off this month’s list with a slightly unusual app. Ever had to go back and listen to the audio of a recorded conversation, wishing you had the ability to skip right to the important part? That’s exactly what Interviewy seeks to accomplish. Although the app was designed with journalists in mind, it’s certainly easy to think of how many ways this kind of app would be useful for attorneys. Whether you’re in the middle of dictating and need to remember an important thought, or want to be able to quickly access important parts of a deposition or witness interview, you’ll find plenty of uses for Interviewy in your practice. Yahoo News Digest by Yahoo!, free. It’s taken a few months, but now we know what Yahoo! wanted to create when they purchased the news app Summly last spring: the Yahoo News Digest app. Taking on the mission of keeping readers apprised of the most important news of the day, Yahoo News Digest provides users with 10 news items twice per day – once in... read more

Not Hyperbole: The Internet Won’t Be The Same Without Net Neutrality

Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that key provisions of regulations promulgated by the FCC, referred to as the “Open Internet Rules” (or “Net Neutrality” to most), were outside the agency’s authority. Specifically, the court held that rules requiring broadband internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally were beyond the FCC’s powers, because broadband providers are not considered “common carriers.” The ruling did acknowledge the broad authority of the FCC to regulate internet service providers under existing federal law. However, the court held that broadband ISPs could not be regulated as “common carriers,” who are required to pass whatever they carry (passengers on trains and telephone calls, for examples) without preference. Without Net Neutrality, without the broadband ISPs treating all information equally, they have strong incentive to put profits ahead of innovation. In fact, as the court made mention, they’re already doing it. Without Net Neutrality, the Internet will never be the same. The ruling itself, somewhat of a bizarre split-the-baby decision, spends a considerable amount of time acknowledging that the FCC has a point regarding the need to regulate broadband ISPs: “Equally important, the Commission has adequately supported and explained its conclusion that, absent rules such as those set forth in the Open Internet Order, broadband providers represent a threat to Internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extend of future broadband deployment. … Broadband providers also have powerful incentives to accept fees from [website] providers, either in return for excluding their competitors or for granting them prioritized access to end users. [] Indeed, at oral argument... read more
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