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)

Photo by Florian Klauer via Unsplash

The pandemic upended the workplace as we know it.  What does the future of work hold for the legal industry? 


Recently, I left a great job.  I did it without another job lined up, in the middle of a global pandemic and record levels of unemployment.  Many people have been kind enough to ask what’s next and a few have asked why I would do such a thing.  After some internal debate, I decided to explain both on Legal Evolution.
Continue Reading Why and how I’m unbundling my career (224)

Source: Legal Evolution PBC

T-shaped professionals building one-to-many legal solutions


If you’re a lawyer, is it worth your time to read a detailed post on the development and deployment of high-quality legal software?

Let’s rephrase the question: Do you want to develop sticky and rewarding client relationships while also developing new—and potentially large—revenue streams that have nothing to do with billing more time?
Continue Reading Strategies supporting the development and deployment of high-quality legal software (221)


Reflections on the connection between specialization and innovation


Your mother needs heart valve replacement surgery, and it’s time to choose between doctors. You will have to explain yourself to two siblings and a few other relatives, but as a practical matter the choice is in your hands. You interview two potential surgeons. Here’s what they have to say:
Continue Reading The Swiss Army Lawyer (138)


Seven steps to create a first-tier tech team


Three years ago this month, the law firm I work for was founded. See 35 Lawyers and Staff Spin Off to Launch Litigation Boutique Tanenbaum Keale LLP, BusinessWire, January 25, 2017.  To get Tanenbaum Keale (TK) off the ground, there were a ton of moving parts to manage.  But one of the most important was development of a technology support team that could fully support the firm’s strategy for being one of the nation’s premier mass tort litigation firms.
Continue Reading A roadmap to build a tech team to support legal operations (135)


Law firm innovation takes many forms. We need a tool to de-risk and demystify the process.


The above graphic is the Maker’s Matrix©, which is a tool I created to more efficiently categorize, prioritize, and resource innovation projects.  This is because innovation in law firms is a nascent field with lots of hype and headlines but remarkably little structure.  See, e.g., Bruce MacEwen, “Who’s your Chief Innovation Officer, ” Adam Smith, Esq., Nov. 13, 2019.  That’s okay, though.  I’m happy for the opportunity to figure it out.
Continue Reading Innovation as a Service and the Maker’s Matrix (128)

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.
Continue Reading Law firm leadership (111)


Culture. Character. Practices. Systems.


When it comes to empirical research on lawyers, we’re all lightweights compared to Randall Kiser.  Over the last decade, Kiser has authored books on lawyer decision making in the context of litigation, Beyond Right and Wrong (2010), the mindset and work habits of trial lawyers who consistently outperform their peers, How Leading Lawyers Think (2011), and an empirically grounded analysis of the skills and behaviors needed to build a successful legal career, Soft Skills for the Effective Lawyer (2017).
Continue Reading American Law Firms in Transition: Trends, Threats, and Strategies (book review) (110)