Danielle Hall has served as the Executive Director for the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program since December 2019. In addition to overseeing the daily operations, she administers a variety of programs for lawyers and law students who need assistance due to a substance use-disorder, mental health, or law practice management related issue. Prior to her appointment, she served as a Deputy Disciplinary Administrator for the State of Kansas where she prosecuted attorney disciplinary cases and served as a coordinator for the Attorney Diversion Program where she also provided training to lawyers in law practice management and technology use. Danielle regularly teaches continuing legal education on many topics including lawyer well-being, ethics, and law practice management and technology use in the law office. She is currently VP of Policy for the Institute for Well-Being in Law, Co-Chair of the DEI Committee for the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, Chair of the Kansas Bar Association Law Practice Management Committee and is a member of the KBA Ethics Advisory Committee. Danielle has also been active in the American Bar Association having served on several LP Division committees, presented at ABA TECHSHOW, and is a regular contributor to the Product Watch column in the Law Practice Magazine. Danielle is also an adjunct professor at her alma matter, Washburn University, where she teaches a law practice management course.
Please give us three points to summarize you and your work in legal technology.
A large portion of my work in legal technology involves advising and training other legal professionals in areas such as how to implement technology to better serve clients and operate more efficiently, as well as recognizing best practices and our ethical obligations when implementing technology. A major goal of mine in providing these services at the Lawyers Assistance Program is to help lawyers with law practice management and legal technology in hopes that it reduces the stresses that sometimes come with running a practice. As a result, I provide everything from one-on-one consultations to developing written resources, as well as providing in-house trainings for entire legal teams.
Providing Continuing Legal Education on legal technology is also a focus of my work. This includes providing education for both lawyers and paralegals. I am fortunate to live in a state that has law practice management accreditation for CLE, so in addition to teaching a lot of technology ethics, I have also taught a number of “how to” programs. I also love providing education by writing on this topic and I have been fortunate enough to get those opportunities, such as contributing to the Product Watch column for the ABA LP Division Law Practice Magazine and the Kansas Bar Association Tech Tips Blog.
In addition to teaching lawyers and other legal professionals about legal technology, I have also taught a course in the Legal Studies Department at Washburn University for the last 5 years, where I have enjoyed teaching future paralegals and future law students about legal technology. This spring, I will also get the opportunity to teach a course on law practice management for law students at Washburn Law. I am very much looking forward to implementing components of legal tech into this course.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
I became involved in legal tech by chance over a decade ago. It also helped that at the time I had a supportive boss who wasn’t afraid of trying new things. After a few years of working at my state’s bar association and listening to lawyers across my state talk about the challenges they faced, I worked to develop what was at that time the association’s law office management assistance program. This program included providing training and education on legal tech to lawyers. From there, my knowledge and skills in this area have pretty much traveled with me in every position since, including working in attorney regulation and to this day I still work to provide lawyers assistance and resources in this area.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
The intersection of technology and well-being has been something I have been focusing and working on for the last couple of years. As the pandemic brought about remote work environments, I noticed that work-life balance and boundaries were areas that many were attempting to figure out how to navigate in their new environment. I also noticed many were struggling with these issues more than we may have already been struggling with in this profession pre-pandemic. As a result, I have been working with and teaching lawyers how to develop better habits to strike a balance with technology and improve their overall well-being.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in legal tech today?
I still think we are slow to adopt technology when compared to other industries. This is partly due to both the actual and perceived risks that need to be evaluated. There is also, however, a general hesitation that still exists to embrace technology. Despite the pandemic making an impact on firms and courts adopting technology, showing we could evaluate and act quickly when needed, I fear we may be hitting some technology fatigue. This could certainly impact the pace at which we continue to adopt technology.
What legal tech resource helped you the most in your legal tech career?
The technology resources that have helped me most throughout my career have been those that have assisted me with staying organized and helped to increase my productivity, such calendaring and scheduling tools, as well as apps that can assist with to-do lists and time management.
What do you see as the most important emerging tech, legal or not, right now?
Generative AI is definitely the hot topic right now. I think this is something we are going to continue to talk about, including in the regulatory landscape.
What do you see for the future of legal tech?
I think we may be at another tipping point with technology in the legal profession as we see rapid advancements in technology like generative AI and others. We saw this when cloud technology rapidly developed. With rapid advancement comes new issues to consider, as well as the excitement surrounding what new technologies can bring to the practice of law. The profession will eventually reach a point where certain technology can no longer be ignored, particularly as clients also become aware of the technology and use it themselves. As this happens, we start moving from conversations about should we or shouldn’t we to how do we adopt certain technology.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Go ahead and take that leap of faith! There is a great network of women in legal tech that will support you and help to guide you along the way when you need, so you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to them. There are many opportunities for networking and meeting those of us that work in the industry, so take those opportunities and don’t be afraid to insert yourself into the discussion.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
There are so many women in the industry who I look up to, respect, and have learned something from on multiple occasions throughout the years, but I remember when I was first starting out and working on developing the practice management assistance program at the Kansas Bar Association that first met Catherine Sanders Reach. I learned so much from her in the beginning and I may have had her on speed dial for the first couple of years. The rest is history from there after I met all the wonderful PMAs. Women like Natalie Kelly, Shawn Holahan, Heidi Alexander, Roberta Tepper, and Charity Anastasio―just to name a few―have all been women that I have learned from and who I admire dearly. There is a reason why all these women have been honored in the past as Women of Legal Tech!