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)


Several in-house innovators are converging on a set of best practices.


In Competition based on better commercial contract terms (211), I reviewed the current norms surrounding commercial contracting and postulated that the growing transparency regarding what is market for a particular term would cause the market for contracts to evolve from its current souk-like state to something that more closely resembles a modern e-commerce marketplace.  Since that post came out in December 2020, numerous companies have been employing AI tools such as TermScout. and crowd-sourced data such as Bonterms, to make their contracting practices more data-driven.
Continue Reading The emergence of data-driven contracting: notes from the field (292)


A. Because it requires us to evolve our culture.


The building blocks to create the next level of Legal are now available, so why aren’t we “there” yet?

In this month’s NewLaw column, I suggest that Legal’s modernization journey is cultural as well as technological.  Indeed, without the evolution of our culture, our innovation efforts are destined to frustrate and underwhelm our key stakeholders.
Continue Reading Q. Why aren’t we “there” yet in modernizing Legal? (286)


An emerging role in legal tech companies that ties together sales, marketing, and customer success.


At Legal Evolution, we often return to the above “five stages of evolution” graphic as a reminder that the legal industry has entered a period of profound tumult and uncertainty.

The tumult is driven by the cost, quality, and service delivery advantages of systematized & packaged legal solutions, which has set off a gold rush in legal tech. See Post 255 (Zach Abramowitz tracking legal tech investment).  The uncertainty is driven by the need for new business models combined with the lack of established, sales channels that enable end-users to buy with confidence.  Cf Post 279 (Jae Um observing that legal vertical is composed of multiple markets that are both fluid and segmented in nonobvious ways).

Well, what about solutions—is anything on the horizon?
Continue Reading How Chief Revenue Officers are making legal tech better (284)

Source: Jeff Carr

A framework for making the legal delivery system better


Hello – I’m Jeff Carr and I am not a lawyer.  Now, I was licensed to practice law in Texas and the District of Columbia and was responsible for the delivery of legal services at two Fortune 500 companies. And I’ve been doing this legal delivery thing for almost 40 years, albeit most of that time spent being pretty lonely out on the radical fringe.  Perhaps this is because, at my core, I’m a business person.  A member of the company’s executive team.  A manager.  And yes, at times, a consigliere.  But despite a JD on my resume, I don’t do interesting questions of law.

I am writing this essay because two colleagues whom I like and respect — Jason Barnwell and Bill Henderson — badgered me to do so, see Post 281, claiming that the legal profession stands to benefit from my experience and perspective.  Although this sounds very lofty, I’m willing to give it a shot.
Continue Reading Four waves of change in #LawLand (282)


An honest and candid assessment of corporate legal, circa 2021


Several months ago, before we had even completed our first year of operations, Bill invited us to write a legal market year-in-review.  His reasoning was simple—our business model entails a lot of listening.  Over the past twelve months, we heard the hopes, dreams, and fears of 240 law firms and 327 law departments (corporate legal) spread over 2,600 meetings.

Perhaps you’re anticipating a conversation about what’s hot in Legal Tech and NewLaw.  And back when we accepted Bill’s invitation, that seemed like a logical direction.  Yet, much to our own surprise, we find ourselves writing a year-in-review essay that focuses on the primacy of culture and cultural adaption.
Continue Reading LexFusion’s Legal Market Year in Review (280)

Somruthai Keawjan via Unsplash

I get a lot of questions about legal market data.  Today I attempt to explain one of the most frequently asked questions: why demand and pricing seem to be uniquely uncoupled in legal markets.


By and large, 2021 was a year of anticlimactic letdowns.  In a sloggy, tiresome, gradual sort of way, most of us realized that the ravages of COVID would not be defeated in one fell swoop.

One exception has been the trade news coverage on Big Law’s bonanza.  In August, Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor rated Q2 of 2021 a record-breaking quarter in its proprietary index of law firm performance.  (Notwithstanding the battery of disclaimers and historical context provided in the fine print, many industry observers decided that this misleading picture is indeed worth a thousand explanatory words.)
Continue Reading #BadData, Part I: (Topsy Turvy) Demand for Legal Services (279)


How can we keep up with exponential increases in demand and complexity?  Invert the pyramid.


Bill Henderson once advised me not to use the term “industrialization” to describe changes in the legal profession to attorneys. It offends us, and we disengage. But I titled this field note “industrial evolution” because we must embrace industrialization as a necessary and valuable part of our transformation that will elevate the value of our profession in a digital age. Cf. Post 231 (Henderson breaking his own advice for the same reason, comparing legal to the early days of the auto industry).

This post is part of a series that reflects my legal industry learning journey, building upon my career journey (080), professional evolution (143), focus on knowledge work (159), and future practice design theory (210). This installment examines the changes happening now that require us to evolve to serve a civilization experiencing exponential change powered by the fourth industrial revolution, and how we might get there faster, together. See Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (2016) (cognitive automation will produce creative destruction).
Continue Reading Legal evolution is industrial evolution (277)


Putting complex and often intimidating topics into context.


Chapter 8, Technology

No discussion on contracting process improvements is complete without focusing on technology. Scarcely a day goes by without an article, blog, or webinar on legal technology and, more specifically, about artificial intelligence (AI). There are many conferences and webinars about contract management systems—on selecting them, on what to use them for, how to derive greatest benefit, etc. Usually, those educational programs are provided or delivered by the contract management systems providers.

Technology is always at the core of any discussion about innovation, for example, but I maintain it should not be. Before any conversation about technology takes place, there should be an assessment of the current state of the people and processes involved in contracting, which is why this chapter follows my previous chapters on People and Process. Only after a thorough review takes place, and there is agreement within the organization that the right people are doing the right steps in the best order, should a discussion about technology begin.
Continue Reading CLM Simplified Part IV: Technology, Metrics & Data, and Outsourcing (272)