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Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #109

By Gabe Teninbaum

My name is Gabe Teninbaum (on Twitter at @GTeninbaum).  I'm a professor, as well as the Assistant Dean for Innovation, Strategic Initiatives, & Distance Education, at Suffolk Law in Boston. I'm also a Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School's Information Society Project.  My work focuses on legal innovation, technology, and the changing business of law. Every day, I digest tons of content on these topics. The goal of this newsletter is to curate the most interesting, valuable, and thought-provoking of these ideas and share them with you. 

If you like reading it, please subscribe. You're also invited to forward this to others who you think would benefit. Likewise, please email mewith feedback, ideas, and tips so I can deliver what's most valuable to you.


The Appetizer: Sponsors

  • For law students who want to retain more of what they study (2-4x as much vs cramming) and save time (50% less time vs. cramming), the science of spaced repetition is for you. is a tool to help law students & bar preppers learn more using cutting-edge science.  Called the single most effective technique to learn by the American Psychological Association. Named one of the world's Top 20 Legal IT Innovations by ALM.  More than 15,000 users spread across every law school in the U.S.

The Main Course: 5 Things That Made Me Think This Week​

  • Community.Lawyer University:  one of my favorite legal tech startups is Community.Lawyer, which offers a no-code document automation tool with a really slick interface. This week, I had a chance to check out their "University" page, which is a top-notch set of video tutorials, easy-to-read documentation, and examples.  I was interested because I think that one of the barriers to adoption of legal tech tools is simply that, for non-techies, they're just not so easy to learn. This makes it easy.  One other thing I really like about it is that there's a feature-rich "free" tier, so that as someone just playing with it, you can get a pretty good sense of its capabilities without having to pay anything. As an aside, I don't have any affiliation or receive any payment or benefit from Community.Lawyer.  I also don't like to play favorites, so to be totally even-handed, I'm a huge fan of Documate, too, which also offers excellent no-code document assembly tools and a great interface, and just won the $100,000 Launch/Code grand prize from Clio.  

  • The Real Legal Hack: earlier this week, I read a Twitter exchange between Rebecca Williams and Forrest Gregg  (it was within one of those convoluted threads that includes retweets and replies from old conversations - Twitter can be so confusing). Within that thread about building expungement/record sealing apps, Gregg commented: "boy, seems like the real legal hack would be to change the law so this just happened automatically." I thought that was a good line, as well as a good reminder that sometimes the tech solution isn't always the best one: maybe some good old fashioned advocacy should be one of the things that we (speaking to myself as much as anyone else) consider before we try to build something new.

  • Doing the Work in the Meeting: I'm all about meeting-time productivity, and this episode of the Geek in Review features designer Douglas Ferguson, of Voltage Control, who talks through his approach for running productive meetings.  Ferguson has experience in implementing ideas in legal workplaces, so he definitely "gets it."  Basically, he re-envisions the whole process as a sort of mini-retreat and teaches listeners how to do likewise and very efficiently describes how others can do likewise. 

  • More Redaction Messes: Slate magazine was able to read the Ghislaine Maxwell deposition and reverse-engineer redacted names. Redacting can be hard in the modern age (but for the most part, not that hard, see Jason Tashea's ABA Journal explainer on how to do it), but most of the failures to date have been a result of not realizing that covering digital text with a black bar doesn’t necessarily remove the text from the digital file. This is a different, and more clever, way to read underneath the black lines. Beware!

  • Nicole Morris on LawNext Podcast: for reasons you might guess, I'm a huge fan of Suffolk Law's legal innovation & tech program, but that doesn't mean I can't support others, too.  One program I root for is the TI:GER program, which is a collaboration between Emory Law and Georgia Tech, overseen by Prof. Nicole Morris (not just a law prof, but a former process engineer, with a master's in chemistry!).  They bring together law students, business students, Ph.D. students and local innovators to take some form of technical innovation, and bringing it to market.  In this episode of LawNext, she lays out the specifics. Pretty inspiring interdisciplinary work.

  • Trump Fridge, Biden Fridge: the New York Times has a new, interactive quiz where readers look at a photo of the inside of a refrigerator and predict whether it was submitted by a family that favors Trump or Biden.  The NYT is providing real time data (at the moment, about 2.5 million guesses have been made, about 53% of which were correct...I scored a lowly 51%). One of the interesting features is that, during the quiz, you're prompted to click on an item in the fridge that justifies your prediction, so we learn that, so far, the crowd has associated chocolate milk, peppermint schnapps, and Velveeta with Trump voters; and yogurt, organic milk and loose-packed eggs with Biden voters. 

*** If you enjoy this newsletter and know others who might also like it, please forward it to them.  It's free to subscribe, so the more, the merrier.