Quick Hits For Your Holiday

Memorial Day. Good day to kick back, relax, put some steaks on the grill, and toast to the start of summer. While enjoying the day, here are some great reads you may have missed in recent months:

The most popular post was “Women You Need to Know: In Law and Technology.” Given the rise in chatter of gender inequality (or gender gap, depending on perspective), and the high-profile Ellen Pao sexual discrimination case, the popularity of the post makes sense. I like that it highlights women in law and technology, their roles and social media profiles. If you look at the list, you’ll see they cover many areas others point to as having a dearth of women, like directors, CEOs and, to some extent, founders.

This being a tech-focused blog, you expect to see tech-related posts on a list like this. What I find interesting is the range, from the practical (“5 Ways to Manage Data Chaos” and “5 Things to Consider when Reviewing BYOD Policies) to the thought-provoking (“What is the Future of Law as it Converges with Technology?”). Then there are the more nuanced perspectives, from Jake Heller on seeing the law through a coder’s eyes, and Jonathan Tobin on what it’s like being a lawyer-entrepreneur. The phrase “lawyer-entrepreneur” is popping up more often these days. I’ve referred to them as hybrids before, and they are everywhere. I think it shows a progression of the legal profession, a change in thought patterns to see themselves as business owners and problem solvers. They’ve acquired skills along the way to becoming a lawyer, and more and more are learning how to wake them up and put them to use. That is cool.

Along with changing thought patterns comes the growing realization that, yes, a law firm is a business. Every business, from the solo-prenuer to Fortune 500s, must sell something. I’m not fan of the word “sell” either, even when I ran my consulting company. In “The Business of Legal: Sales is Not a Dirty Word, Part 1,” Mary Juetten breaks down the sales process into four simple steps, with actionable items.

Few will argue against technology being pervasive anymore, and the conversation has now shifted to issues of privacy and security. The Snowden Leaks helped push privacy to the forefront, along with encryption and the rise of privacy-centered or anonymous apps like SnapChat, Yik Yak, and Whispr. I often say that convenience trumps all, even privacy. With the emergence of blockchain technology I am starting to wonder if the two can coexist. I’m heartened, though, that the issue of privacy has not died, and that things like Above the Law Converge conference, covered in their “Is Privacy a Thing?” article, are keeping it alive.

Convenience is key when it comes to practice management software, and that convenience is achieved through a bit of work. We’ve become accustomed to things “just working,” like snapping photos and sharing them via Instagram. Practice management software doesn’t quite operate that way, and moving to one with the features you want can be challenging and frustrating. Donald Coker gives a set of actionable steps for a smooth transition in “Making Your New Practice Management Software Work.”

Automation is another thing that is popping up with increased frequency. It often instills panic, as the information that follows talks about how various occupations will be replaced by robots. In a way, lawyers are already being replaced by robots, namely algorithms. So are journalists. The natural instinct, when threatened, is fight or flight. You can argue the drop in law school enrollment, and lawyers leaving the profession, as flight. You can argue the rally cries are fight. In between the noise, however, is something else. There are clusters who view automation as helpful rather than hurtful. These clusters have stopped and examined the minutia of being a lawyer, and discovered that automation can be beneficial. Otherwise menial tasks can be programmed to be completed, freeing up mental space for the lawyer to attend to clients. The clamoring for fighting against automation remains loud, but if the Associate Press can use automation to free its journalists to be human, why can’t lawyers be free, too?

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