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Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #122

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​

  • VersionStory: I'm intrigued by a new demo video posted on ProductHunt for VersionStory, which bills itself as a "git for lawyers," i.e. a tool that lets multiple people work on the same document and accept changes in a transparent, easy-to-track way. This is a source of frustration that I'm all for solving (I'm not the only one - if you google "git for lawyers," there've been various blog posts over the years about why there should be one). Extra intriguing is that this product apparently bubbled out of the famed Y Combinator startup accelerator that also gave rise to companies like Stripe, Airbnb, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch, and Reddit. Hat tip to Charlie Uniman/Legal Tech Startup Focus for spotting this one.

  • Conversation Between Clio and FastCase CEOs: of the many interesting talks at ABA Techshow, among the most intriguing was a conversation between Jack Newton (Clio) and Ed Walters (FastCase) about how the legal profession has adapted to the pandemic, and how lawyers can do better in the future based on the lessons they've learned. One fact Newton mention was that, according to Clio's Trends Report from 2022, 69% of consumers prefer working with a lawyer who can share documents electronically, and more than 50% of consumers believe most legal matters can be dealt with remotely. In other words, the future belongs to those willing to use tech tools to streamline legal work. The ABA Journal summarized their conversation here.

  • Virtual Practice Opinion from the ABA: a growing number of legal professionals do their work outside of a brick-and-mortar office, with a significant percentage supporting clients wholly, or nearly wholly, online (see Jack Newton's comment, above, about consumers being open to this arrangement!). The ABA has put out ethical guidance, Formal Opinion 498 (pdf), on how the rules of professional conduct apply in this context. The Opinion's advice on best practices cover hardware devices and software systems; accessing client files and data; using virtual meeting platforms and videoconferencing; and virtual document and data exchange platforms, among others. One thing that surprised me - in a pleasant way - is how specific and actionable it was. It doesn't just say "beware of people overhearing," it instead gives clear guidance on nuanced challenges like virtual assistants (think Siri or Amazon Alexa) listening in) and how to deal with them.

  • FutureLaw Conference is Online/Free, April 8, 2021: every year, the team at Stanford CodeX puts on an amazing conference devoted to the intersection of law, innovation, and technology. This year, it's going to be free and fully online. For those who need them, it's even worth 5.5 CLE hours. You can sign up here.

  • One Year Later: we've all got a story about where we were when the full weight of the pandemic became a reality in our lives (I'd just returned from an academic talk at UNLV when the wheels came off. I was also on a semester-long sabbatical, writing a book...then mid-March hit and must of the rest of the world joined me on our collective "sabbatical."). To commemorate this unhappy anniversary, Bob Ambrogi wrote up his own reflections, providing not just personal color, but context around the impact on the legal profession.

  • The Fisher Protocol: One of the titans of the study of Negotiation is the late, great Roger Fisher, whose book "Getting to Yes," is the classic in negotiation theory. In re-reading a section of it, I was reminded that Fisher also generated a controversial thought experiment that became known as "The Fisher Protocol," which, if employed, might prevent a nuclear war, saving millions of the cost of a single one. Read on. (And if that was too heavy/morbid/Black Mirror-ish, just skip it and read the backstory of the song Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits, which is also pretty terrific).