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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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 story for the New Year.  Maybe you can relate.


I recently turned 57 years old.  Although I am dismayed and disappointed by many things happening in our republic, and impatient with an industry, profession and educational complex that is supposed to operate in the public interest, whatever quantum of cynicism I possessed went away in 2019. Moreover, it happened quickly, albeit many of the pieces were put into place more a decade ago.
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[click on to enlarge]

One-to-many legal solutions are built by teams of multidisciplinary professionals. It’s time to build a legal talent supply chain.


The above graphic is a map of the human capital needed to create “one-to-many” legal solutions (Human Capital Map).  It’s a dense graphic on a complex topic. To explain its structure and the key insights it provides, I’ll cover the following topics:
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Our profession evolves through people. Some are stepping up.


Everyday, when I am paying attention, the world is nudging me to let go of something wrong and unhelpful. A friend of mine calls it “dropping the rock.”  The rock is an assumption about how the world operates that can’t be reconciled with an honest evaluation of facts and experience.
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Source: Randall Kiser, DecisionSet

American law firms are threatened by acute needs and limited capabilities in three domains: leadership, meaning, and service.


Media attention shifts rapidly from law firm profitability to gender bias and from technology to new lateral partners. Yet, if we pull back to conduct a deeper analysis, what we observe is a law firm sector grappling with three interrelated threats that are seldom the focus of sustained attention:  insufficient leadership, attorneys’ lack of meaning and purpose in their work, and client service. As shown in the above graphic, these three domains are the linchpins of law firm performance and sustainability.
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No one really knows how the game is played //  The art of the trade  // How the sausage gets made // We just assume that it happens // But no one else is in // The room where it happens

Lin-Manuel Miranda


Since graduating from law school in 2015, I’ve spent a lot of time in the room where it happens. I’ve served in leadership roles on local, state, and national bar associations; I’ve traveled around the country speaking with lawyers and law students of all sorts; and I’ve helped the sausage get made.
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Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Post 100 is Henderson’s opinion. It’s also a note to introduce Jordan Couch’s essay on the Washington State Bar.


The U.S. legal profession is suffering from an enormous leadership vacuum.  As a collective group, the lawyers with the most stature and gravitas — law school deans, managing partners of prestigious firms, GC of major companies, state and federal judges — are failing to step up, largely because each has a day job that is all consuming. As a result, profits per partner climb, in-house lawyers get their bonus, law schools hang onto their US News ranking, and the courts make it through another challenging fiscal year. But collectively, we have very few establishment leaders exhorting us to evolve in the public interest. That’s a vacuum.
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