“Firms outside the Premier and Championship leagues are playing a different sport.” Thus, the winning strategies are different.


Jae Um, in her bracketing exercise for The American Lawyer magazine, arrays the 2022 AmLaw 100 based on the structure of the English football league system. At the top are 22 firms in the Premier League. Next is the Championship League, with 23 firms focused intently on getting promoted to Premier.  The third group is “Everybody Else,” which includes all the corporate law firms playing in lower-tier leagues.

Yet, as Jae Um pointed out during her visit to my Law Firms class, “it’s a mistake to extend the soccer metaphor to all 300 US/UK law firms that are doing significant amounts of corporate legal work.”  Jae explains that Premier and Championship League firms have some combination of practice areas (type, quality, depth), sector focus, and geographic footprint that enable them to attract price-insensitive work from the world’s largest and wealthiest clients. See Part II (332) (discussing market power of these firms).

Jae continues, “The 250+ firms outside the Premier and Championship leagues are playing a different sport.”
Continue Reading Learning about law firms, Part III: Innovation at “Everybody Else” firms (335)

Source:Legal Innovation After Reform: Evidence from Regulatory Change,” Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession (Sept 2022) at 18, Figure 1.

In the long run, however, it’s all about the data.  Initial findings from Utah and Arizona reform efforts.


[Editor’s note:  For today’s feature post, we are pleased to welcome Lucy Ricca and Graham Ambrose, two of the authors of the recently published Stanford Law report on the legal regulatory changes taking place in Utah and Arizona. Prior to becoming Director of Policy and Programs at the Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession, Lucy Ricca was the founding Executive Director of the Office of Legal Services Innovation (the regulatory office overseeing the Utah sandbox). In addition, she remains a member of the Office’s Executive Committee.  Graham Ambrose is currently a 2L at Stanford Law and a 2022-23 Civil Justice Fellow at the Rhode Center. wdh]


The year 2020, known to most for global pandemic shutdowns, also heralded leaps and bounds in legal regulatory reforms.  Utah and Arizona approved extraordinary changes to the regulation of legal practice. Both states loosened the bans on nonlawyer ownership of legal practices and the practice of law by nonlawyers.  Further, the Conference of Chief Justices issued a resolution urging states to consider regulatory innovations regarding the delivery of legal services, and the ABA approved a limited resolution encouraging consideration of regulatory innovation.  Even Justice Neil Gorsuch weighed in with his support for regulatory innovation.

This year, on the other hand, has been more challenging. 
Continue Reading The high highs and low lows of legal regulatory reform (333)


Lawyers are coming around to the “why” for transformation, but struggle with the “how.” That’s change we can work with.


[Editor’s note:  To keep things fresh, Anusia is periodically handing her NewLaw Fundamentals baton to other provocative change agents in her network.  This month, we are pleased to welcome Anna Lozynski, who, as General Counsel of L’Oréal in Melbourne, Australia, led a large and successful transformation of the company’s legal function.  See “2019 In-House Leaders,” Australasian Lawyer.  Since January 2021, Anna has been in demand as a legal Innovation consultant, tech advisor, influencer & freelance GC. As evidenced by today’s essay, Anna is one of the legal industry’s most persuasive voices for change. wdh]


In 2015, when I pioneered the implementation of legal technology as a General Counsel and self-taught Legal Operations aficionado at the world’s leading cosmetics company, the prevailing questions in the legal industry being posed by skeptical legal lips were “Is Innovation hype?” and “Is it a lawyer’s role to innovate?”

Swipe forward the better part of a decade, in this post-pandemic world, we are observing a plethora of socioeconomic shifts. Many businesses face unprecedented change and guiding the organization and the legal department through this period of transformational change can feel like an oversized ask.
Continue Reading Out with the old, in with the … bold? (331)


Unlike sharks, killer whales hunt collaboratively.  Is this the right approach to the legal tech vertical?


Why aren’t more law firms investing in startups and/or launching corporate venture arms? Is corporate venture capital (CVC) a good fit for the legal industry? If not, is there a better model? And then, finally, what does all of this have to do with killer whales?

In this essay, I’m going to attempt to answer each of these questions. I will start by giving a brief introduction to CVC and then I will outline the current models of law firm venture investments, highlighting both strengths and shortcomings. In the second half of this essay, I’ll suggest an alternative model, a collaborative industry-wide approach which I have dubbed “Investing like Killer Whales.” This is the strategy we used when we syndicated an investment in AI-based contract benchmarking startup TermScout.  See Abramowitz, “As Promised, Our Second #Legaltech Investment Announcement This Week,Zach of Legal Disruption, May 5, 2022 (describing collaborative syndicate approach and why worked well for TermScout).
Continue Reading Sharing my playbook for Legal Tech investment (324)


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)