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Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #120

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 me with 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​

  • Automating Legal Work is a Snap with Doc Assembly Software: there's probably no class of legal tech software that has the potential to make more impact, with less effort, for law firms than document assembly tools. In this terrific ABA Journal piece by Nicole Black, she lays out the options, giving the pros and cons of each.

  • Online Hearings Gone Wrong: I've touted the benefits of online hearings in this newsletter in the past, but it turns out it's not all sunshine and roses. For example, Sacramento Superior Court was able to move its traffic court hearings online, which is excellent. However, this week, a surgeon appeared for his hearing - while in the OR, in scrubs, actively operating on a patient - insisting he could both make his legal argument, and operate on a patient. The Commissioner holding the hearing wisely suspended it for another day, and the California Medical Board is also wisely investigating the doctor.

  • Frugal Innovation in Lawyer Formation: there's an excellent new post on Law21 by Jordan Furlong on how we might re-envision law school and bar licensing to embrace the spirit of "frugal innovation." My favorite part is that he introduces constraints, asking how law school would work if it could only take 18 months and cost $18,000 (presumably 18k Canadian, eh, Jordan?). From there, he maps out options for how it might be successfully accomplished. What Seth Godin is to marketing wisdom, Jordan is to me for legal innovation: he takes hard ideas that swirl around and he makes them quite clear and simple.

  • ILTA Women in Legal Tech Podcast Series: for the last few weeks, ILTA has been organizing a series of conversations with leading women in legal tech. They just put out their fifth and final podcast in the series, and all are excellent. The speakers are super knowledgeable, and have interesting backgrounds (they're drawn from different parts of the world and with all different types of work within legal tech). While we're on the subject of ILTA, the idea of spending time in Las Vegas in August wouldn't typically be attractive to me, but it's a positive sign that ILTA is planning for their annual conference to be held live and in person this year, as reported by Law Sites Blog.

  • Elements of Value: the Harvard Business Review has a fascinating piece on the hierarchy of values customers apply to decisions about purchasing services and products. At the high-end, a product can be seen to allow for self-transcendence; at the low, it reduces hassle. Recognizing these insights has clear applications for how legal professionals (and legal marketers, specifically) think about what they're offering their clients and how they can communicate about it.

  • Reading Letterlocked Letters: it used to be a thing in the 1600s to write letters and then fold them up in intricate ways to assure that they were not read in transit (or, presumably, if so, the recipient would know it was read by someone else). There's a trove of these still-letterlocked 400+ year old letters that have been sitting in archives. Scholars didn't want to risk destroying them by cutting them open, so they just studied their outsides. Enter a group of MIT researchers who figured out a way to use x-ray technology to read the letters without unfolding them and published their findings in Nature. has a nice summary of the research, with helpful videos and links so you can visualize what they're now able to do. If you're feeling inspired by this and want to try to write a letterlocked document, let me know and I'll share my snail-mail address.


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