Four key elements: caps on total liability, exceptions to cap, limitations on type of damages, and exceptions to limits.


In recent posts, I have postulated that commercial contracting is on the following path of evolution:

  1. Reliable data as to what is market for key contracting terms will become readily available as utility models, powered by large data sets and AI, become prevalent. See Post 225 (“Can contract analysis operate like a utility?”).
  2. Companies will look to remove friction from their businesses by aligning their contract terms (and negotiating practices) with market, with some companies offering better-than-market terms in an effort to achieve competitive advantage. See Post 211 (“Competition based on better commercial contract terms”).
  3. Moving to market terms will lead to contract standardization, less contract complexity, and significant returns to the companies that adopt this approach, benefitting the economy as a whole.  See Post 228 (“The cost of contract complexity”); Post 236 (“Case study: impact of AI and Big Data on low-risk contract negotiations”); Post 292 (“The emergence of data-driven contracting: notes from the field”).

The critical foundation for this evolution is that all parties to a negotiation have reasonable access to information regarding what constitutes market.  (For a discussion of the problems associated with information asymmetry, see the works of Joseph Stiglitz.)
Continue Reading What is “market” for limitation of vendor liability? A look at the data (322)


An effort to close the communication gap between legal technologists and the lawyers and called legal professionals they serve.


This post is for lawyers and allied legal professionals who are not legal technologists but want to understand some of the basic principles of constructing and operating an effective litigation management system.

The development of legal profession software —more specifically the forging of sophisticated litigation matter management systems, has been one of my core vocational functions for a period of time far longer than I wish to admit.  See Post 108 (discussing my initiation to legal in the legal department of Bristol-Myers Squibb).   It is particularly important to master and adopt advanced software of this nature when attempting to manage some of the more expansive civil litigation issues of our time (e.g., Roundup, Juul)
Continue Reading Best practices for effective litigation tracking systems (316)


Probably not, but we’ll see.  A surprising conversation with digital transformation expert Isabel Parker


It’s already been quite a year for law firm innovation.  Just last month, Norton Rose Fulbright launched LX Studio, a new “innovation-focused” subsidiary, and Wilson Sonsini unveiled Neuron, a proprietary SaaS platform for start-ups.  Exciting propositions, but the development that had the NewLaw cognoscenti scratching their heads was ‘white shoe’ firm Cleary Gottlieb launching of ClearyX, which the firm describes as a “platform for highly efficient, AI and data-driven legal services.”

What’s driving these unveilings? And, are these new platforms worthwhile?
Continue Reading Q: The first “White Shoe” law firm launched an innovation subsidiary. Does that matter? (315)


The longest-standing democracy in the world looks and feels bitterly divided.  An immigrant offers some reasons to keep hope alive for the American experiment.

On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

If law is the primary domain of lawyers, then it follows that the arcane complexities of constitutional law should remain the exclusive domain of exceptional legal scholars.  Many voices in the legal community – some ably and in good faith – will share their hard-earned expertise to provide technical commentary on those complexities and the jurisprudence that led us here.

I am not a lawyer, and I have no scholarly pretensions to invite debate on issues of constitutional doctrine.  Nor do I write this post with any wish or expectation to change minds about abortion.  Instead, I wish to address how the rule of law shapes American life, and I ask the legal profession to reflect on how the work of lawyers and judges affects the daily realities of your fellow citizens.
Continue Reading Hope, the Invincible Summer (314)


Illinois Court Help is changing how people interact with the court system.  Let’s hope it’s the beginning of something big.


[Editor’s note: Today’s feature post is written by Amanda N. Marino, a very talented recent law grad (Maurer Law ’22) with stellar journalism credentials.   Back in the summer of 2020, when the pandemic disrupted the summer internships of so many law students, Amanda ended up in a special summer version of my How Innovation Diffusions in the Legal Industry course.

I’ve taught the Diffusion course several times at three different law schools. And certainly, Amanda is among the most engaged and creative students I’ve encountered. But on one dimension, she’s completely unique.  One day during class, she spoke her truth, which I paraphrase here: “I understand the importance and power of diffusion theory — that it can help companies successfully drive adoption of their products and services. But I want to use its power to improve the legal system.”  Okay, I thought to myself, if I can use my network, connections, and resources to help this student, I will.

In the spring semester of her 3L year, Amanda asked if I would supervise a short independent study project to earn one more course credit needed for graduation. I agreed on one condition — that she digs into some topics in the PeopleLaw realm that are relatively time-intensive to research yet likely important and useful to the underresourced #A2J movement.  I had a few ideas on where to start and primed the pump with some initial phone calls and email introductions.  But Amanda Marino did everything else. I hope you enjoy today’s unique and special feature.  wdh]
Continue Reading Illinois Court Help: A case study in court customer service (310)

First-gen matrix for evaluating software options. Harvard Law School, circa 1985.

Oh, the Humanity!  We can choose to choose better.


My first serious experience choosing law-related technology was in early 1985. Personal computers had just been introduced in the Harvard Law School clinics (as part of Project Pericles) and we had to decide which software to use for word processing. (WordPerfect was around, but we somehow missed it.) So I typed up a chart on an electric typewriter and added lines by pencil. See above graphic.  We wanted to be sure our choice did things like automatically centering text.

Such charts are familiar to product choosers everywhere. Options on one axis; features or considerations on the other. Ideally incorporating some sense of the relative importance of the latter. (One defect of the above chart is that there’s a “How desirable?” column for each option. Perceived importance of factors may vary across decision-makers, but shouldn’t differ by option.)
Continue Reading The social life of legal tech choices (309)


Even in the US, the neat line between law firms and ALSP is starting to blur.  Nonetheless, the opportunities are only growing.


This post shares some of the most frequently asked questions I receive as a law firm consultant with expertise in ALSPs.  I am sharing this information because I believe that if more people understand how to leverage and/or mimic the most effective aspects of ALSPs, the adoption of ALSPs and new business models will accelerate.

What is an Alternative Legal Service Provider (ALSP)?

“ALSP” is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of businesses in the legal industry that are not law firms, but which provide legal or related support services. ALSPs usually leverage low-cost labor, technology, and efficient processes to perform certain types of work more quickly and less expensively than many law firms can perform it.
Continue Reading Your most common questions about ALSPs (307)


Some history, some terminology, and finally, some practice tips.


Q.  In recent years, design thinking has become more popular in legal, partially as a buzzword but also, in some quarters, as an actual practice.  Why is this happening?

More so than in years and decades past, business leaders are pushing legal departments and law firms to drastically improve or expand client service. Naturally, this requires turning the spotlight on the client to deeply understand their business problems and experience in working with legal.  The confluence of the demand for more human-centered services and solutions, the need for creativity to break through boundaries, and lawyers’ tendency towards discomfort with ambiguity have pushed the profession to seek refuge in design thinking.

Developing ways to do things differently can get messy and feel uncomfortable, especially for a risk-averse population. With the structure of the methodology, design thinking provides lawyers with a handy “checklist to innovate” that can help put them at ease and guide them to an outcome.
Continue Reading Design thinking versus legal design: what’s the difference? (306)


Combing through the past to prepare lawyers for the future.


I’m offering a new course this fall at Suffolk University Law School in Boston called Shakespeare and Knowledge Technology.

Odd combination, right?  I know. But hopefully not as odd as you may think.

Especially in their final year of study, many law students are bored with academics and anxious to get out into paying practice. Courses that delve into seemingly unrelated subjects, like early modern literature, offer respite. Courses that provide hands-on exposure to cutting-edge legal technology kindle much positive energy. Why not both?!

Bear with me for a moment while I talk about Shakespeare. Then I will explain how he provides a great context for learning about knowledge tech.
Continue Reading Looking at legal knowledge technology through an unusual lens (301)


Clients too often ignore law firm incentives and market power.  They also substitute management for leadership.


Editor’s note:  This post returns to a subject first addressed here in Posts 029, 030, 031: successful law firm convergence and the management of law firm panels.  In this article, Dan looks back over AdvanceLaw’s work in the intervening five years and identifies four of the most common and consequential flaws in corporate law firm panels.  What follows draws on input from the staff of AdvanceLaw, where Dan is a Managing Director.

Why law firm panels matter

Law firm panels are a primary client strategy for controlling legal spend, but they also help stimulate innovation.   Innovation matters because panels wouldn’t be worth the effort if they didn’t produce better performance, which requires changes in how things get done.  Yet as Legal Evolution has documented in its posts on diffusion theory (tip: start with Post 001 and read chronologically),  many forces resist innovation in legal services, and those forces can only be overcome by sustained change management efforts from both law firms and clients.  Neither firms nor clients will commit to this effort if their relationship is temporary or poorly defined, so structured approaches like law firm panels are necessary to create the conditions under which innovation is at least possible.
Continue Reading The four fatal flaws of law firm panels (297)