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
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The Main Course: 5 Things That Made Me Think This Week
Orrick Spins out "Joinder": imagine a world where law firms have experts on staff who can build tools that solve their organization's own problems...then create separate spin-off businesses out of what they have made to help others. Well, that day is here. Joinder is a collaboration platform that does all sorts of interesting things for law firms (details here), though to be honest, I'm less interested in what Joinder does than the fact that Joinder exists at all. It's exciting that law firms are thinking of themselves as doing something beyond just handling matters and billing hours. They're powerful, resource-rich, experienced entities that have the ability to improve the whole industry...and create new income streams, too. Orrick isn't the only firm doing this (as the linked Artificial Lawyer post notes, Wilson Sonsini has had success too, among others) and it's terrific to see the trend developing.
Report on Growth of Justice Tech: a new report, Justice Tech for All: How Technology Can Ethically Disrupt the US Justice System, documents the growing market for “justice tech” — startups focused on reducing inequities in the criminal and civil justice systems — and urges venture capitalists to continue to invest beyond the estimated $77m invested to date. The report's summary and recommendations are covered in detail in this excellent piece in Law Sites Blog. Totally fascinating topic and an example of companies/people who can "do well by doing good."
Digital Upskilling: it's a relative rarity for law firms to invest in teaching their team to be better at using the amazing tools around them. This piece by legal industry consultant Bob Dolsinky makes the argument that legal organizations should do so, and includes a set of guidelines for how to make it work.
Distributed Legal Teams: for years, software developers have worked on a distributed basis, i.e., they're all working from their own homes or the place of their choosing, and rarely - if ever - see one another. So, why can't we do that in many areas of law? After all, unless you're considered an essential worker, you've likely been working on a distributed team for the past year or so. This is a pretty captivating interview on the Geek in Review where Dan Packel, from the American Lawyer, talks about how a number of firms are already doing this and how others might adopt it.
Zoom Court Goes Mainstream: the May issue of The Atlantic has an article devoted to the concept of remote court hearings. The article does an effective job at considering both the big picture pros and cons, and describes some of the nuanced benefits of using virtual proceedings and new forms of online dispute resolution. One thing I especially liked about it is that it cited the terrific work of Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and the National Center for State Courts. It was also neat to see various links to empirical research on why this sort of approach makes sense.
Working Smarter with Knowledge Tools, v. 2.0: there are two books that have formed my ideas about legal tech more than any others: Susskind’s Tomorrow’s Lawyers, and Marc Lauritsen’s The Lawyer’s Guide to Working Smarter with Knowledge Tools. Working Smarter, version 1, came out in 2011 and gives a blueprint not just for doing things like document assembly projects, but also provides an entire framework for thinking about, well, working smarter with knowledge tools. I’m pleased to report that Working Smarter now has an updated second edition (it turns out a few things have changed in the decade since the first edition). You can read a sample chapter here (pdf), and check out reviews and learn more about picking up a copy on the product page.
Ted Chiang interviewed by Ezra Klein: Chiang has to be the most thought-provoking speculative fiction writer out there, particularly when it comes to the intersection of technology and society (if you haven't read his short story collection, Exhalation, you should do so ASAP). Ezra Klein has to be the most thought-provoking of the long form podcast hosts. Together, they are like peanut butter and chocolate: excellent individually, way better than the sum of their parts when combined. You don't have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this interview. In fact, the most interesting part to me was Chiang's theory that the drumbeat of concern about AI isn't so much about technology as fear of capitalism. Hat tip to Kottke.org which is a main go-to when I have a few minutes to learn something new and interesting.