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Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #124

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.


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

  • What Happens When Your Practice Group Lawyer Doesn't Practice?: like all Big Law group leaders, the head of Lathrop GPM’s Intellectual Property Group has to be adept at strategy, business development, mentoring associates and just generally being a leader. In the case of Kate Tompkins, she needn't do one thing most practice group leaders do: practice law. That’s because she is not a lawyer; she’s a business professional. On this terrific interview from The Geek in Review Podcast, she tells us how she landed this role, and how we may see more business operation professionals stepping up to lead the legal practice as other firms look to run more like a business. With the growth of legal ops, and what I sense is an increasing recognition that the business of law is, well, a business, I suspect we'll be hearing more stories like this one. I bet we'll also get data to show that strategies like the one Lathrop GPM has used in hiring a highly credentialed business professional pay off.

  • California Adopts Duty of Tech Competence: 13% of American lawyers, i.e. all the lawyers in California, are now ethically obligated to get up to speed on the technologies relevant to their practice areas. It's been 9 years since the ABA House of Delegates adopted language requiring technological competence, and Law Sites Blog has tracked the adoption by the states in real time. The real question is what's wrong with the 11 who haven't adopted the rule yet (looking at you: Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Dakota).

  • The Joy of Contrarian Futurists: the most interesting thing I listened to this week was a 3+ hour long interview Tim Ferriss did with Balaji Srinivasan. Balaji is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and an entrepreneur with several successful exits of his own. He's also taught hugely popular courses through Stanford, where he has a BS/MS/PhD. He just bubbles with ideas - about the future of education, regulation, crypto, smart contracts, pseudonymous culture, and much, much more. Truth be told, I think I disagreed with 50% of what he said - and found 100% of it to be thought-provoking. This interview was a good reminder for me that spending time listening to super smart people, even if you think some of what they say is wrong, is a valuable exercise. If anyone already listened, or does so this week, I'll be curious to hear your thoughts, so drop me an email.

  • Choices in Contracts: there are all sorts of legal tech tools for drafting "better" contracts, with terms created more efficiently and allowing for deals to close ever faster. The problem Marc Lauritsen describes in this piece is that we still have work to do when it comes to the bridge between what contracts say and what people want. Marc is a guru on decision-making (in fact, his site,, is something I regularly use) and this piece got me thinking about all the important things the text in a contract doesn't capture. There's a saying I've always liked attributed to Yo-Yo Ma that "music happens between the notes." This essay made me think that good contracts might happen between the words.

  • It's the End of the Citation As We Know It & I Feel Fine: this is a funny essay by Prof. Bryan Frye about ScholarSift, which is a computer program that tells authors which articles they should be citing, and tells editors whether an article is novel. For law profs, this is big - it reduces annoying research and citation tasks. It's hard not to appreciate these tools that help us discover sources we might not otherwise. Several have started to hit the market for lawyers writing briefs (I referenced ClearBrief last week and CaseText is a perennial favorite of mine). I sure hope more come along.

  • Sunday on the Lower East Side: I was recently scouring the internet for Russ & Daughters's lox recipe (no dice, but my secret recipe is pretty good on its own...but if you know their recipe, please share it!) and happened across this old Calvin Trillin piece on shopping for bagels, lox, and other brunch necessities in that neighborhood. What a terrific writer, and what a unique place the Lower East Side is for food (and for many other things). Even if you've never been there, give the Trillin piece a read and you'll be transported. Then, for bonus points, take a walk around the area using Google Maps. For anyone attending the AALS '22 in NYC, I anticipate taking daily trips to the Katz's/Russ & Daughters/Yoneh Shimmel blocks of E. Houston Street for meals. You're welcome to join me.


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