Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #111
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
CLOC Goes (More) Global: in 2017, I distinctly remember speaking to a group of law firm executives in Dallas at the same time the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium - CLOC - convention was happening in Las Vegas. The main side-conversation at the law firm event in Texas seemed to be "what do you think the CLOC folks are saying about us?" Well, those law firm leaders won't have to worry any more, because CLOC has just decided to restructure and expand their membership model to include the entire legal ecosystem. I'll be interested to see how this impacts the dynamics. One of the benefits I've always perceived of CLOC membership is that legal ops people are willing to share intell among each other on things like the rates they're paying outside counsel specifically because outside counsel weren't invited to the party. Now that they are, I wonder we'll have to see if it changes the mood.
A Remote Legal Future? On a recent Geek in Review podcast, Steve Embry argued in favor of creating more remote work opportunities for law firms (I'm in favor!). Embry's view is that with the right strategy, training, support, and flexibility, that it would actually attract better talent and lead to better satisfaction from not just the firm’s own lawyers, but also from the firm’s clients as well. Worth a listen.
SALI v.2: the people at SALI (Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry) work on one of the most important, least outwardly exciting projects in all of law. It's the "Legal Matter Standard Specification," which is a taxonomy of all of the legal problems in the known world, broken down into parts and sub-parts. In essence, the same way doctors have billing codes, the folks are SALI have created likewise for legal. Currently, reports Artificial Lawyer, they're updating these codes, connecting them with billing definitions, and considering expansion to have data sharing and more. Why does this matter? Data. Benchmarking. Efficiency. It will give purchasers of legal services the ability to compare apples to apples among service providers they hire. This will (hopefully) in turn encourage law firms to create incentives around getting work done, instead of billing more hours.
Legal Tune Up: I really like apps that connect consumers with important information, and so much the better if they're free. Here's a great one that Law Sites Blog just wrote up: Legal Tune Up is an app for Wisconsin residents that lets them access public data to identify legal issues — issues they might not even be aware of, like suspended driver's licenses and overdue child support — and then resolve those issues on their own. The app was developed by LIFT Dane, a social justice collaboration created to improve the financial well-being of residents of Dane County, Wisconsin. It was designed and built by the terrific Nicole Bradick and the team at Theory and Principle, a legal technology product design and development firm based in Portland, Maine.
Time Blocking: for busy legal professionals (and, well, just about everyone I suppose), constant interruptions make for a far less productive day. Far more frustrating, too. One of the tools that Cal Newport - one of my favorite productivity gurus - recommends is "blocking time." In essence, the idea is to schedule every minute of the day, including blocking off open-ended time to be reactive. Paul Graham has drawn a similar picture with his memorable post, "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule." This came to mind this week because Newport has a new daily planner available that helps people block time (for me, just using an Outlook calendar works fine). I like these tricks because I've been thinking a lot about low tech productivity and innovation tools that require nothing more than a pencil and paper to execute. This is one of my favorite.
McBroken.com: if you've ever arrived at the Golden Arches on a hot day and just wanted to relax with a McFlurry, only to learn the machine was broken, then read on! McBroken.com scans every McDonalds in America, and lets users know which ones have a broken ice cream machine at any given moment. McDonalds apparently makes this data public in their app when you order. He simply wrote some code to regularly send a query to see if the machine works. Something about this feels both brilliant and subversive at the same time. Plus, it's good to confirm that the machines at the half dozen nearest McDonalds to me are in good working order, as of two minutes ago.
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