Relevant to what’s happening today.


This post is about three empirically based theories of national decline.  It’s written as a freestanding essay.  However, some readers may want to know that it’s also Part II of a two-part project to help me better understand the root causes of the United States’ growing social and political instability.

Part I (312) explored the Gilded Age, which is the closest parallel to the present.  In addition, I wrote a shorter bridge essay (319) that provides some useful historical information on the U.S. tax code and takes a critical look at the narrative, embedded in the legal profession’s code of ethics, that lawyers have special roles and responsibilities in the preservation of constitutional democracy and the rule of law.

As noted in Part I and the bridge, I am using these essays to “build a sturdier, more informed, and more realistic intellectual frame — i.e., something that can be fully squared with the present day.” This is a difficult topic that requires a lot of work. Yet, in our present environment, and speaking only for myself, I’ve concluded that it would be unethical, immoral, and decadent to focus on other “more practical” projects.  Further, I suspect a subset of readers shares my sense of alarm.  Hence, I’m sharing my work.
Continue Reading Three empirically based theories of national decline (book review) (321)


A. Innovation methodologies are used to create novel experiments meant to improve DEI in legal, but more significantly, systems innovation creates an opportunity to advance DEI as a critical feature of the next epoch and not an afterthought.


I begin this post with a disclaimer: I’m a woman in law. I’m not racially diverse, or otherwise so. While I have an education and appreciation of the myriad DEI issues in the profession and broader society, I do not have a personal understanding beyond my own gendered experience. I speak only for myself from my place of understanding, with the best intentions towards empowering all people to flourish through equitable systems.

Q: “Wait, is this a Diversity initiative or an Innovation initiative?”

A: “It’s both.”
Continue Reading Q: How does innovation intersect with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in law? (298)

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The legal profession appears to be on autopilot.


This post is for legal market analysts who are looking for updated and reliable data on the current legal services market. Collectively, its eight graphics reveal several themes that ought to give us pause, as we (the legal profession) may not have unlimited runaway to focus on strategies related to income and profit.

Most of the underlying data come from the Economic Census, which is a detailed ongoing survey of US businesses conducted every five years (years ending in 2 and 7) by the US Census Bureau.  Because of the size and scope of the data collection effort (it’s a census, not a sampling), it takes the full five-year cycle to complete the analysis and release the findings. The final—and in my view, the most interesting—installments were published last fall.
Continue Reading Eight updated graphics on the US legal services market (285)


Pretty much everything was a counterintuitive curveball.


In April of 2006, more than 15 years ago, I wrote a memo to file that would go on to exert a disproportionately large impact on my thinking and career, albeit many of the lessons took years to come into focus and were far from what I expected.

The topic was Moneyball as applied to law firm associates—in essence, sketching out the data and methodology necessary to identify under and overvalued attributes of law firm associates, akin to the selection methods used by Oakland Athletics in the famous book by Michael Lewis.
Continue Reading Moneyball for law firm associates: a 15-year retrospective (257)

Legal Evolution contributors, Summer 2020

Breadth and depth on legal innovation and the future of law.


As in prior years, after Labor Day, Legal Evolution shifts to a bi-weekly publication schedule, at least for Sunday longform content. See Post 065, 113.

Fortunately, we exit the summer of 2020 on


The story of how one legal department is using legal operations to engage stakeholders and reduce risk.


In 2019, I graduated from Northwestern’s Master of Science in Law.  After graduation, I got a job in the legal department at VillageMD, a healthcare and technology growth company. I am actually one of three graduates


The LexBlog Network includes more than 1,000 legal blogs and 23,000 authors, including Legal Evolution.  Twenty years ago, a lawyer would have to travel to a law library to access the depth and breadth of content that is now available to anyone with an internet connection.

Thus, it is a remarkable achievement that regular contributor Evan Parker took home two of six Lexblog Awards for Exemplary Writing:
Continue Reading Evan Parker takes home two LexBlog awards for outstanding writing (134)

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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:
Continue Reading Human capital for one-to-many legal solutions (126)


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)


The answer appears to be yes. A deep dive into Hotshot.


For many of us, success is partially a function of being at the right place at the right time.  Yet, this type of luck often has even larger second-order effects, such as the ability to see new and emerging business opportunities.  Indeed, this is how I see the careers of Ian Nelson and Chris Wedgeworth, who were part of the sales team that helped Practical Law Company (PLC) enter and dominate the U.S. market.
Continue Reading Is just-in-time training for lawyers a good business? (102)