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)


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)


“It is no exaggeration to say that the Restatement of the common law is the most difficult as well as the most important public work ever undertaken without the aid of government by the legal profession in this or any other country.”  William Draper Lewis, “Present Status of the American Law Institute,” 11 NYU L Rev 337, 343 (1929).

This essay is about the importance and value of building shared “legal infrastructure,” which is a term coined by the eminent economist and law professor Gillian Hadfield in her book, Rules for a Flat World (2017).
Continue Reading Legal infrastructure and the forgotten story of the Restatements (207)

Jumping as metaphor for innovating


The low bar set by an insular, self-satisfied profession.


The legal profession is stymied by an innovation crisis. We lack the bold ideas, new models, and financial commitments necessary to address our acute dilemmas and deficiencies in law firm efficiency, client satisfaction, legal education, law student indebtedness, racial injustice, lack of diversity in law firms


A long-game model based on expertise, access, and trust.


This post is a deep dive into LexFusion, a new go-to-market organization founded by Joe Borstein and Paul Stroka.

Longtime readers of Legal Evolution may recall Post 034, which was a profile of the legal industry’s most skillful and accomplished team of consultative


The data exist to make legal education measurably better.


Figure 1 above uses data from the 2020 Law School Survey of Student of Engagement (LSSSE) to visualize 10 average score “distributions” based on responses from 12,969 law students at 68 participating U.S. law schools. The distributions are at the law school level. Thus, for all ten measures, each participating law school’s average score exists somewhere within the orange-yellow-grey-blue-green distribution.  The grey is the fat part of the underlying bell curve (25-75th percentiles).  In addition, each Figure 1 measure maps to one or more of the ABA’s Accreditation Standards (see references in brackets).
Continue Reading What is an excellent legal education? Answers based on data (193)

“You’ve got your work cut out for you” by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

“There are only two ways for a manager to improve the output of an employee: motivation and training.”

— Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things (2014) at 110.

Several years ago, I had the good fortune of having dinner with David Burgess, the Publishing Director of The Legal 500, a global research company that compiles detailed rankings of law firms based on jurisdiction and practice area.
Continue Reading Lawyers and teamwork, Part I: Motivation (188)


It’s also compounding racial inequality. The story in ten charts.


My fundraising work for the Institute for the Future of Law Practice has required me to delve into the equities of modern legal education, particularly around the debt loads and employment prospects of historically underrepresented groups.  This is because virtually all potential benefactors want diversity