The TECHSHOW Edition of Law Practice Magazine

It is the week of ABA TECHSHOW and a good way to get warmed up is to check out the TECHSHOW edition of Law Practice Magazine.

LPMAGMarch2017CoverThe cover story is A Golden Age of Legal Tech Start-Ups by Bob Ambrogi. Other features cover topics from legal incubators to e-signatures. Columns include my observations on Managing the Robots, Tom Mighell on the Battle of the Workplace Messaging Apps, Pete Roberts on A ‘Periodic Table’ of Law Firm Profitability for Small Firms and Sharon Nelson and John W. Simek on Securing Your Law Firm’s Website: A Critical Cybersecurity Task.

If you think managing all of the lawyers and staff in a law firm is a challenge, just wait for that day (coming sooner than you think) when you also have to manage the robots working for your law firm. Despite the cool graphic the magazine production team found to illustrate Managing the Robots, I don’t think we are likely to see humanoid robots in law firms anytime soon. But I do think we are about to see more and more automated processes powered by smart technology systems. This brings up many challenges for firms that are used to supervising people as opposed to perfecting and managing automated processes.

Which partner or partners try to lay claim to the machine-generated profits will just be the first (and loudest) of these issues.

I hope to see you at ABA TECHSHOW this week.


 The TECHSHOW Edition of Law Practice Magazine

Suggested Articles and Posts from January and February in the Reading Room

Our monthly Reading Room features reading suggestions for you from January and February, 2017 which cover a wide range of topics for the forward-thinking lawyer. Topics include “white dwarf law firms,” the Smart Person’s Guide to Apple’s iCloud Keychain, the ABC’s of Marketing and Business Development for Lawyers, dictation methods on the iPhone, blockchain for lawyers, a  new JP Reading RoomMorgan AI software program that saves 360,000 hours of staff and lawyer time,  Six Fundamentals For Handling Client Confidences, the Top Twenty-Two Most Interesting e-Discovery Opinions of 2016 and How An Introvert Can Build A Thriving Practice.

Visit our January 2017 Reading Room and our February 2017 Reading Room.

Suggested Articles and Posts from January and February in the Reading Room

Prof. Richard Susskind on Upgrading Justice

Professor Richard Susskind delivered an address at Harvard Law School earlier this month. His talks on the future of law practice are well-known and we have seen many of his predictions already come true. Thanks to Harvard for posting the video. It would have been even better if the camera operator had panned up to give us a glance at his presentation slides. If you are a lawyer and have never listened to Prof. Susskind, you should take advantage of this opportunity. If you have heard him years ago, he has more data now.


Prof. Richard Susskind on Upgrading Justice

Digital Edge podcast: The Importance of Legal Writing

Does quality writing really make you a better lawyer? On this episode of The Digital Edge, The Importance of Legal Writing, hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway discuss legal writing with Gary Kinder, founder of the editing program WordRake. Together, they explore lawyers’ biggest writing errors, why this is important in the  Gary Kinder courtroom, and how writing well can help build a positive reputation for a firm. In their conclusion of the episode, they shift the focus to WordRake itself, expanding on what it is, the cost, and why it’s effective. They even include a treat especially for Digital Edge listeners.

Gary Kinder founded the software company WordRake in 2012. The company’s eponymous software is an automated editing program that suggests changes to improve brevity and clarity.

On a personal note, I write a column, a CLE paper or a book chapter almost every week it seems, and consider myself a fairly accomplished writer. I always get some usable edits and suggestions from WordRake. You probably will, too. Enjoy your “free treat.”

Digital Edge podcast: The Importance of Legal Writing

How to Ethically Use Technology in Your Practice – Free Webinar this week

I am teaching a free webinar on Wednesday February 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm CENTRAL time. It is titled: How to Ethically Use Technology in Your Practice

It is sponsored by MyCase. Here is the information:

Keeping client confidences secure in the digital age is not always easy, but it certainly is necessary. It seems like there’s always some new technology tool or gadget that lawyers are told they “have to” use.

Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program, will talk about how to ethically use today’s technology and which emerging tools are important for lawyers.

Register for our free 60 minute webinar on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET to learn about:

    Why lawyers cannot ethically avoid using technology tools

    Digital security – It’s your responsibility

    Encryption of email to clients – now required?

    The risks and benefits of cloud computing

    Emerging technology tools that benefit lawyers and their clients

No Oklahoma MCLE credit is offered.

Register at


How to Ethically Use Technology in Your Practice – Free Webinar this week

Automation in Today’s Law Firm

Robot and gavelThe idea for my column, Automation in Today’s Law Firm, came during a holiday evening in the Calloway household, when my spouse and I were setting up several automated tasks, none of which had anything to do with the Internet of Things.

There has been much discussion among futurists and technologists about how robots and artificial intelligence were moving on from taking the jobs of factory workers to threatening knowledge workers, like lawyers. Yet, some law firms have not implemented some simple and easy-to-use automation tools that are available today.

So Automation in Today’s Law Firm is about automation projects you can do today and, that some readers already have incorporated. I end with a few more sophisticated automation tools like IFTTT (If This Then That) and Zapier. These two are not widely in use in the legal profession, but definitely are in use in the legal profession.

Full-blown massive law office automation projects are beyond the scope of the column, but here is some additional reading on automation and artificial intelligence not included in the column:

Benefits and the Climb of Legal Automation by Sarah A. McCromick

Biglaw Automation: Whose Job Goes First? by Michael Allen

How automation is changing the legal profession – an October 2015 roundtable discussion by Gwynne Monahan

How artificial intelligence is transforming the legal profession by Julie Sobowale (ABA Journal April 2016 cover story)

Several hundred academic articles are available for free download at Vanderbilt law School’s Artificial Intelligence – Law, Policy, & Ethics eJournal on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Some provocative titles include Using Machine Learning to Predict Outcomes in Tax Law, Siri-ously 2.0: What Artificial Intelligence Reveals about the First Amendment , and for Issac Asimov fans, The Three Laws of Robotics in the Age of Big Data. My favorite title (even thought I didn’t read the paper) was Do Driverless Cars Dream of Electric Sheep?

Automation in Today’s Law Firm

Podcast: Will Alternative Business Structures in U.K. Law Firms Cross the Pond?

Discussions about Alternative Business Structures (ABS) in law firms often produce a lot of spirited debates, especially when the proposals about this idea are discussed by American Bar Association entities. Generally ABS refers to various different ideas about non-lawyer ownership or management of law firms. Last year when the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services published an David Beech bio issues paper and solicited comments on ABS, various state bar associations and other lawyer organizations reacted strongly and filed comments opposing ABS. Those with an interest can read the Issue paper and comments on the Commission’s website. For example, the ABA Family Law Section comment was “On behalf of the Section of Family Law, we pose the following question: WHAT PART OF “NO!” DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? We remain unalterably opposed to these repeated, previously failed efforts to foist ABS upon our profession or our ethics.”

It is easy to understand the concerns from the legal profession. The practice of law cannot ethically be just about profit-and-loss decision making. So there are concerns that a non-lawyer administrator might tell a lawyer to not do any more work on an matter with a critical hearing date approaching because the client’s retainer had been exhausted or tell a lawyer to unethically do more work on a matter where a solution was found relatively quickly with limited expense. But the negative reaction to ABS proposals is often so strong that one wonders if those responding have completely considered the potential benefits.

Our Digital Edge podcast this month is “Will Alternative Business Structures in U.K. Law Firms Cross the Pond?” It is instructive to listen to the story of a major U.K. law firm that has become an ABS, both how they undertook this path and why the lawyers are pleased that they did so. David Beech is the CEO of the professional services firm Knights in the U.K. David has led the business, originally a law firm, since 2011. His vision for Knights is to become the leading regional professional services business in the U.K. He was an outstanding podcast guest and this is a very worthwhile podcast.

If you are one of those lawyers who thinks this is a terrible idea, then that is all the more reason to listen to this podcast. You might learn something. Maybe you will learn of some benefits and changes your firm can incorporate without becoming an ABS. After all, it is not like the proponents of these changes want to allow for this to destroy the legal profession.

Podcast: Will Alternative Business Structures in U.K. Law Firms Cross the Pond?