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Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #110

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.  SpacedRepetition.com 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​

  • Contract Teardown Show: this is a podcast where the host (the very funny, very wise Mike Whelan) and guests tear apart contracts, often from well-known companies, like Fiverr and Oracle  They explain where the language falls short, how it's unfair or deceptive, and otherwise examine what's noteworthy about the documents. It's terrific to listen to experts talk through their analysis, and as someone who hasn't thought much about contracts law since 1L year, quite informative too.  It's also a good reminder that most law students never even look at a contracts in Contracts class (the irony, the irony!), and there's so much to learn by digging in to the source material.

  • Mishcon de Reya Makes Innovative Moves.  This 900-lawyer UK-based law firm is doing some fascinating things at the intersection of traditional practice and legal innovation.  I recently learned about their legal tech accelerator, MDR Lab, where they walk participants through a curriculum to help them validate ideas and business models, and provide seed funding.  I think this is particularly positive because there are so many good ideas flowing out of the legal profession, but too often, not enough support for testing them.  Learn more about MDR Lab's efforts here and apply here (they're currently accepting applications and have adapted to be COVID-safe).  To paraphrase Steve Jobs: "and that's not all, there's one more thing...": along with the MDR Lab, MDR has launched a legal tech consultancy, MDRxTech, to help clients with digital transformation and legal engineering.  Whew - this is not your grandparents' law firm.

  • Louisiana Legal Navigator: the Lagniappe Law Lab and Louisiana Bar Foundation have just released a tool that allows their community to choose a legal topic that they they need support in, answer a few questions, and get customized legal information in response.  It's very slick-looking, and appears quite effective. This project is also noteworthy because it brings together so many terrific people and teams (including Community.lawyer (which provided the no-code platform it's built on), and the Suffolk Legal Innovation & Tech Lab (which built "Spot," which is the AI tool that enables the robust and efficient searching)...all for the benefit of expanding civil legal justice. 

  • Plain Language Guide: one of the most important, yet least discussed, challenges in improving communications between legal professionals and clients (whether in the context of access to justice, traditional private practice representation, or otherwise) is translating complex legal concepts into plain language.  The National Association of Court Managers has a terrific, free guide (downloadable as a pdf) that I just read for the first time.  I'll likely be assigning this to students in the future because the exercise of explaining complex, nuanced language in straightforward ways isn't just a career skill, but a way to improve understanding on the part of the person providing the explanation.

  • Diversity Pipeline in Law Begins in High School: Thrive Scholars is an organization in Los Angeles that supports high achieving students of color to succeed in higher education and careers.  Their results are very impressive, with about 40% of Thrive Scholars going on to attend an Ivy League college, and nearly all of them attending a top 50 ranked university.  We all know, or should know, that diversity is problematic both in legal education and in law firms. Recognizing this, the Thrive team is working to expand that pipeline.  Both Holland & Knight and Honigman have signed up to partner with Thrive as a part of its law school track, with about 15 total firms in conversations about participating.  They'll work with the students to help them envision a legal career, and to support them as they proceed through their education.  A good start, and we need much more. Kudos to those signing up to participate.

Lagniappe

  • Soccer Ball, or Follicly Challenged Ref? Inverness Caledonian Thistle, which is a Scottish pro soccer team, doesn’t have a camera operator for games at their stadium.  Instead, they use an AI-controlled camera that’s programmed to follow the ball. In a recent match against Ayr United, the AI controller kept moving the camera off the ball to focus on the bald head of the linesman (the official who stands on the sidelines and indicates when the ball has gone out of bounds), making the game all but unwatchable. No fans allowed in the stadium either, so the broadcast was the only way to watch.

*** 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.

#GabeTeninbaum #innovation #legaltech #businessoflaw

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