In ways that are often self-interested and counterproductive.


Why do I keep banging on about inquiry (i.e., asking good questions rather than advocating an opinion or advice)?  Because it’s so important and we’re  so bad at it.

I still remember the first time I tracked dialogue in a group of lawyer-leaders.   I was working with an executive leadership team in a global law firm and had recommended they read William Noonan’s fantastic article, “Discussing the Undiscussable: Overcoming Defensive Routines in the Workplace,” Harv Bus Rev (May 2011). I was observing one of their meetings and decided to get some data to support my belief that the biggest thing holding them back was the quality of their dialogue.  I drew a 4-box matrix in my notepad and categorized every contribution for an afternoon.  Above is a photo of that page.
Continue Reading How do lawyers use their words in dialogue? (230)


Every good writer strives to say something important with an economy of words.  On this score, today’s guest contributor, Anthony Kearns, sets a Legal Evolution record, relying upon a hand-drawn image and 300 words to say something profoundly important about how lawyers interact in groups, particularly with other lawyers. See Post 230.

Though


Count me among the skeptics.


We are all familiar with the allegations that CEOs of publicly traded companies manipulating their earnings from period to period by such actions as booking discretionary expenses at the end of a strong quarter or deferring a major sale until the beginning of a new period.  No one thinks that these actions are laudable from an integrity standpoint, and sometimes they are sufficiently flagrant to result in securities-fraud allegations.

Thus, it is surprising to me that law firm managers have been boasting in the first quarter of 2021 about their prudence in prepaying in the last quarter of 2020 major expenses that were not due until 2021.  See, e.g., Andrew Mahoney, “Big Firms Headed Off ‘Great Unknowns’ by Pre-Paying Bills,” Law.com, Mar. 10, 2021 (discussing prevalence of practice).
Continue Reading Is income manipulation by Big Law laudable behavior? (227)


Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.


Nothing I have read over the last several years haunts me as much as the following line from Gillian Hadfield: “People who feel as though the rules don’t care about them don’t care about the rules.”  Rules for a Flat World at 79 (2017).

When I first read those words, I can remember thinking, “this explains the 2016 presidential election,” though the name Donald Trump appears nowhere in the book. Likewise, for the next four years, Professor Hadfield’s observation offered a remarkably concise explanation for the public’s growing indifference to democratic norms, democratic institutions, and the Rule of Law. Then the events of January 6th offered a disturbing punctuation point.
Continue Reading Just not good enough (226)


Big data insights on tap, just like water, gas, or electric.


Every day of the year buyers and sellers enter into millions of contracts covering the purchase and sale of billions of dollars worth of goods and services.  Each one of these transactions requires each party to analyze the governing agreement to assess whether the agreement fits within its risk profile.

This analysis commonly is performed in one of two ways: (1) the party accepts whatever risk may be in the contract with no real analysis, or (2) a legal expert conducts an unstructured review and issues his or her opinion regarding the agreement.
Continue Reading Can contract analysis operate like a utility? (225)

Photo by Florian Klauer via Unsplash

The pandemic upended the workplace as we know it.  What does the future of work hold for the legal industry? 


Recently, I left a great job.  I did it without another job lined up, in the middle of a global pandemic and record levels of unemployment.  Many people have been kind enough to ask what’s next and a few have asked why I would do such a thing.  After some internal debate, I decided to explain both on Legal Evolution.
Continue Reading Why and how I’m unbundling my career (224)

Source: Whitney Johnson, “Throw Your Life a Curve,” Harv Bus Rev, Sept 3, 2012

The S-curve is real.  If we’re not growing, we’re dying.


Through client work that admittedly spans a broad swath of the legal industry, I am fortunate to spend a lot of time with law firm leaders and other attorneys at varying stages of their careers.  Through these discussions, I have learned why some attorneys choose to work for law firms while others–with the same stellar pedigrees–prefer to work for alternative legal service providers (ALSPs).
Continue Reading The gig is up and coming (223)

Source: Legal Evolution PBC

T-shaped professionals building one-to-many legal solutions


If you’re a lawyer, is it worth your time to read a detailed post on the development and deployment of high-quality legal software?

Let’s rephrase the question: Do you want to develop sticky and rewarding client relationships while also developing new—and potentially large—revenue streams that have nothing to do with billing more time?
Continue Reading Strategies supporting the development and deployment of high-quality legal software (221)

Photo Credit: ESA/NASA

The 4th Industrial Revolution is here (even for lawyers).  A look at what digital transformation actually means for legal markets — and the investments tomorrow’s winners are making today.

Today’s post is the final part in the 5-part series #GreatExpectations for the #GreatReset.  (Like the vaccine rollout 💉 and my workout plan 😁, this post is a bit delayed 🥺.  A million thanks to Bill and the Legal Evolution audience for the patience!)
Continue Reading #GreatExpectations, Part V: Cloudy with a Chance of Digital Disruption (220)