Avoid debate. Build useful stuff.


Earlier this summer, Legal Evolution applied to the Library of Congress for an International Standard Serial Number, or ISSN.  A few weeks ago, we received our official approval. Legal Evolution is ISSN 2769-6161.  You can look us up, along with other publications, at the ISSN Portal.

Most readers have little familiarity with ISSN, primarily because it operates in the background. Its purpose is to track specific titles of ongoing or serialized publications. In essence, it’s part of the inventory control system for the world’s knowledge.  Historically, knowledge has been stored in libraries.  But nowadays, an ever-growing proportion is stored in the Cloud.
Continue Reading Turf, hierarchy, and evolving professional norms (261)


Millennials were already skeptical of the law firm model. Then the pandemic hit, reinforcing the legal profession’s worst tendencies. A walk through the data.


Law firm leaders generally underestimated the magnitude, duration, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other experienced but untrained decision-makers, many law firm leaders were excessively optimistic about their firm’s prospects and conceptually limited in defining their firm’s risks.

Even the law firms that met or exceeded their financial aspirations now face a force stronger and more threatening to their business model than COVID-19: disaffected, disenchanted, and disappointed Millennial attorneys constituting nearly one-half of all attorneys in the 400 largest law firms. Thus, lawyers are very much a part of an upheaval in the nation’s workforce that Gallup calls the “The Great Discontent” and “The Great Resignation.”
Continue Reading Millennial attorneys, COVID-19, and innovation (260)


For today’s feature (Post 260), Legal Evolution is pleased to welcome back guest contributor Randy Kiser, whom I’ve previously described as the “preeminent scholar of the U.S. legal profession” and the “world’s leading authority on legal decision making.” See Post 110 (reviewing Kiser’s scholarship and surprising career along with his most recent book, American Law


So we’re gonna change too.


In last month’s column (Post 253), we defined NewLaw as a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed. Thus, it is reasonable to ask …

Q.  Why do we need a different approach?

It may seem the old ways are working just fine. Law firms are making money, clients are delivering services to their businesses, the wheels keep turning. And if ain’t broke, don’t fix it … right?
Continue Reading The needs of clients are changing (258)


Pretty much everything was a counterintuitive curveball.


In April of 2006, more than 15 years ago, I wrote a memo to file that would go on to exert a disproportionately large impact on my thinking and career, albeit many of the lessons took years to come into focus and were far from what I expected.

The topic was Moneyball as applied to law firm associates—in essence, sketching out the data and methodology necessary to identify under and overvalued attributes of law firm associates, akin to the selection methods used by Oakland Athletics in the famous book by Michael Lewis.
Continue Reading Moneyball for law firm associates: a 15-year retrospective (257)

Source:  Gravity Stack [Click on to enlarge]

Sophisticated investors are betting on contract tech. It’s about business, not the intricacies or importance of law.


Today’s post (256) and last week’s (255) are a two-part series on the burgeoning legal tech sector.

Whereas Post 255 focused on the explosion in the legal technology market over the past year—five new #Legaltech Unicorns, three companies go public—this post looks contract tech, which is arguably legal tech’s hottest subsector.
Continue Reading Because Everyone Else Cares: Why legal should be paying attention to contracts (256)

[click on to enlarge]

Five New #Legaltech Unicorns.  One Unicorn Nearly Doubles in Value.  Three Companies Go Public. 


It might be unfair to say that legal technology arrived in 2021. After all, law firms and law departments, the primary target buyers of legal tech, have been preparing for the impact of AI and automation.

In 2018, Amlaw 100 firms like Reed Smith and later Wilson Sonsini began creating dedicated tech-focused subsidiaries. See Post 213 (Zach Abramowitz’s overview of law firm-led legal tech.  In late 2019, the chairman of an AmLaw 50 firm told us, “We know there is new stuff, we know that our clients know about the new stuff. The question is how we become proactive so that our clients don’t bypass us on the way to the new stuff.”
Continue Reading How the first half of 2021 signals the maturity of an ecosystem (255)


Making lemonade out of lemons.


It’s sometimes hard for those of us working in professional services or the legal profession to fully and completely walk in the shoes of our clients.   Sometimes it takes a bit of real-world experience to get us there. 

My spouse, Mila Jones (we call her Miles), was recently involved in a controversy that had the potential to result in class-action litigation involving several sophisticated parties.  As a loving and supportive spouse whose household was personally affected by the alleged wrong—and someone who earns his living in the litigation business—I had the experience of walking in the shoes of a prospective client.  And no surprise, it was eye-opening.
Continue Reading My walk in the shoes of a prospective client (254)


A. NewLaw is a mindset.


NewLaw is a mindset. It is a movement. NewLaw’s enemy is the adage: “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Whether coined by Eric Chin, see Post 242, or Jordan Furlong, see Furlong, “An Incomplete Inventory of New Law,” Law21, May 13, 2014, the original definition circa 2013 was: “any model, process, or tool that represents a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed.”
Continue Reading Q. What is NewLaw? (253)


Len Fromm’s lawyer shares what he’s learned.


Positively Conflicted is the right book for any lawyer seeking a rich and fulfilling life, which is a larger category than one’s career.

According to the author, lawyer-meditator Sam Ardery, we get to this highly desirable endpoint by getting good at conflict. On one level, this makes sense, as we’re all in the conflict business. But Ardery’s definition of conflict is remarkably broad and includes the tensions and traumas of our personal, professional, and familial relations as well internal conflicts, where we stew over our inadequate supply of power, security, esteem, and comfort.
Continue Reading Positively Conflicted (book review) (252)


“One of the biggest myths in legal education is that there is more than enough well-paying work for anyone who has a law license.”


About ten years ago, through a connection made by Bill Henderson, I was invited to a gathering of law-school professors in Northern California.  I was still a manager of a global law firm at the time, and Bill thought that it would be useful to add a practitioner to the group, which otherwise comprised solely academics from around the US.  I remembered this conference recently as I read about the focused efforts of the Debevoise & Plimpton law firm starting in 2012 to bolster demand for its services after years of no growth or decline. See Dylan Jackson, “Debevoise Faced a Demand Crisis. Its Solution Required Change From the Ground Up,” Law.com, July 1, 2021.

The reason for the flashback was my laughed-at suggestion that law schools should add a course in sales and marketing to their curricula. 
Continue Reading Would sales & marketing in law school cross a red line? (251)