We are all leaders now.


As corporate leaders, we are all accustomed to operating with our set business strategy and making tactical and resourcing decisions tied to that guiding strategy.  But, as Bill stated in his public service channel announcement, “what was important last week seems completely irrelevant today.” Post 141. How relevant is our guiding strategy today, and how about tomorrow?  How do we make good decisions without a strategy or framework against which to test them?  How do we lead effectively?  Activity is different from action, and we need the latter.

As many people in the world did last Friday night, I spent the evening with my husband on calls with family.  Specifically, my brother-in-law, Geoff Gillespie, a U.S. Navy JAG Corps lawyer with our forward deployed Naval forces in Naples, Italy.
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Working notes from my new role at Microsoft


I might have the most fun job in the legal profession. I help Microsoft’s legal department build the future of our practice of law leading a program we call “Modern Legal.” Modern Legal is a spin-off of my prior operations role focused on innovation. This post offers a summary of Modern Legal and our observations about why legal industry innovation may be accelerating.

Our General Counsel, Dev Stahlkopf, chartered our small team with a delightfully elegant and audacious mandate: “Drive industry-leading innovation to digitally transform and modernize the department’s practices and ways of working.” Our department handles complex legal needs, for an accelerating and dynamic business, with global scope, at massive scale. Our Modern Legal team brings together a Storyteller (Senior Attorney), a Cultural Systems Engineer (Senior Program Manager), and me. We are built to explore and use what we learn to catalyze the evolution of our larger organization.
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So I’ve been asking myself, “How can I be helpful?”


On Legal Evolution, I usually write about business and legal technology.  But since my wife is a charge nurse in an intensive care unit in New York City, the seriousness of what we are living through is inescapably close to home.

I am not going to write about the situation and conditions in her unit because whatever I write is sure to change by publication time. But I thought some readers might appreciate some of the exceptionally unusual challenges for our home and work lives and how these experiences have rapidly changed my perspective, all for the better.  I hope others in the legal sector — which, it turns out, is not as essential as healthcare — will find these thoughts helpful.
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If you have something worth sharing, send it along


What was important last week seems completely irrelevant today.  Thus, instead of focusing exclusively on our editorial content, which was carefully planned through May, Legal Evolution is turning to its readership to explore what’s important and worth sharing.

Legal Evolution’s readership is not large (~6,500 sessions / 4,750 unique users during a big month), but it’s very distinctive, made up of innovators and early adopters from law firms, legal departments, legaltech, NewLaw, law schools (faculty and students), regulators, consultants, government agencies, public interest organizations, and the BigFour.  For the next several weeks or months, a sizable portion of this remarkable group has a lot of extra time on its hands.  This creates a very large space for reflection, which is the seedbed of creativity.  It’s hard to overstate the potential social value that could flow from this otherwise dire black swan event.
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Some realism on the regulatory reform movement


Imagine a legal sector neatly divided into two groups: the Rule Makers and the Risk Takers.  With evidence piling up that the legal market is not working for ordinary citizens, the Rule Makers come together to evaluate possible changes. After the new rules are enacted, the burden shifts to the Risk Takers to build out workable solutions.

If we apply this simple model to the US legal sector, it appears that the Rule Makers are struggling to deliver, as the most high-profile liberalization efforts at the state and national levels are now being shelved or slow-walked. See, e.g., Cheryl Miller, “California State Bar Puts Brakes on Proposed ‘Regulatory Sandbox,’” Am. Law., Mar. 13, 2020 (citing “political headwinds” as reason for tabling ATILS Task Force recommendations); Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, “ABA Approves Innovation Resolution, With Revisions to Limit Regulatory Changes,” Law.com, Feb. 17, 2020 (discussing passage of watered-down resolution that disavowed any changes to nonlawyer ownership or the unauthorized practice of law).
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Hotshot now free for law students and faculty


In the span of the last week,  virtually all of legal education has moved  to an online format. See Paul Caron, “More than 185 Law Schools (93%) Have Moved Online Due to the Coronavirus,” TaxProf, Mar. 14, 2020.   Per the above tweet from Paddy Cosgrove, it is hard to imagine that such a massive and sudden change does not result in the discovery of new capabilities.
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Reflections on the connection between specialization and innovation


Your mother needs heart valve replacement surgery, and it’s time to choose between doctors. You will have to explain yourself to two siblings and a few other relatives, but as a practical matter the choice is in your hands. You interview two potential surgeons. Here’s what they have to say:
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Without effective communication principles, advanced statistics are useless. Some of my key lessons from the field.


The graphic above provides a breakdown of 2018 law school graduates with diverse race/ethnicity backgrounds. Each hand represents 100 JDs. The colors represent four different categories in the U.S. News law school rankings. Thus, the Tier 3/4 schools have the largest number of diverse race/ethnicity graduates—4,500 JDs, or about 45% of all diverse 2018 JD grads. Likewise, only 1,300, or 13%, attended elite T-14 schools, which is clear, useful information for legal employers who have urgency regarding diversity.
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A discussion of the scope and content of limited practice legal education


Regulatory reform efforts are underway in Arizona, see Ambrogi, “Arizona Task Force Calls for Wide-Ranging Practice Reforms, Including Eliminating Ban on Nonlawyer Ownership,” LawSites, Oct. 15, 2019, and Utah,  Ambrogi, “Utah Task Force Calls for ‘Profoundly Reimagining the Way Legal Services Are Regulated’,” LawSites, Aug. 27, 2019, with emerging movements in California, Illinois, and elsewhere proceeding apace, see Jayne Reardon, “Re-regulating Lawyers for the 21st Century,” 2Civility, July 18, 2019 (summarizing various state reform efforts).
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Seven steps to create a first-tier tech team


Three years ago this month, the law firm I work for was founded. See 35 Lawyers and Staff Spin Off to Launch Litigation Boutique Tanenbaum Keale LLP, BusinessWire, January 25, 2017.  To get Tanenbaum Keale (TK) off the ground, there were a ton of moving parts to manage.  But one of the most important was development of a technology support team that could fully support the firm’s strategy for being one of the nation’s premier mass tort litigation firms.
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The LexBlog Network includes more than 1,000 legal blogs and 23,000 authors, including Legal Evolution.  Twenty years ago, a lawyer would have to travel to a law library to access the depth and breadth of content that is now available to anyone with an internet connection.

Thus, it is a remarkable achievement that regular contributor Evan Parker took home two of six Lexblog Awards for Exemplary Writing:
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