John Tredennick started a focus on legal technology in 1988—back when law firms saw it as something limited to fancy computers and adding machines. He asked Holland & Hart, the Denver-based firm where he was a partner, to add the words chief information officer to his title. “You need a leader, not just somebody on staff but somebody who understands the bigger vision of the firm—where we fit in the legal landscape and how we can harness technology to get us where we want to be,” Tredennick told partners. “I said, ‘I want to be that leader,’ and they made me the technology partner.”
Michael Mills has been helping law firms figure out their technological needs since before there was an internet. As one of the first of what are now known as chief knowledge officers, Mills played a leading role in educating his fellow lawyers and implementing tools and processes designed to help lawyers do their jobs more effectively. After over two decades in Big Law, Mills decided to stake out on his own, eventually co-founding Neota Logic, a company that allows users to design and create their own tools to fit their needs. Mills talks about his career, as well as what role technology will play in the legal industry going forward.
For more than three decades, Richard Susskind has been one of the profession’s most prolific voices in support of implementing technology with legal services delivery. The author of more than 10 books on the topic, his next one will focus on technology in the courtroom. “A better way of running state-based dispute resolution is largely using technology, rather than using traditional methods,” says Susskind. “Rather than hiring a lawyer, one might instead have an online dialogue with the other party and a judge and resolve a dispute more rapidly.”
For years, Paul Lippe has been a leader in helping corporate law departments adopt the approaches used in the best and most innovative parts of their own companies—and in doing so, significantly changing the relationships with and the work done by their outside lawyers. A Legal Rebels Trailblazer and one of the original New Normal contributors for ABAJournal.com, Lippe’s career path has been all about change and innovation.
Plenty of lawyers hate to do legal research: It can be tedious and time-consuming, and one mistake can tank an entire case. For lawyers of a certain generation, the very sight of those two-toned, musty-smelling books that all look the same is enough to fill them with dread. For younger lawyers, electronic resources can be just as intimidating and mystifying. Luckily for Lisa Solomon, she loves that kind of work.
Stacy Stern is in charge of revenues, among her other roles at a successful for-profit company, but she tends to talk more about giving away products and services. It becomes obvious that she thinks giving is more important than receiving—not that Justia, the legal portal she and her husband, Tim Stanley, created, isn’t out to make money.
But–philosophically at least–they turn the standard business model on its head. Profit for the 100-plus-employee company makes it possible to put up more free stuff. Stern, a 2017 Legal Rebel Trailblazer, and Stanley, one of the original ABA Journal Legal Rebels, make basic law free and available to one and all, while turning a profit by helping lawyers market themselves.
In this special ABA TECHSHOW episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Molly McDonough catches up with Legal Rebel Stacy Stern, president of the vast legal portal Justia.
Stern, one of the co-founders of Findlaw, was named a Legal Rebels Trailblazer in early 2017. She talks here about the expansion of Justia, which champions free law for all in the United States and Mexico.
In this special ABA TECHSHOW episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Molly McDonough catches up with Legal Rebels Shantelle Argyle and Daniel Spencer.
Argyle and Spencer, profiled as Legal Rebels in 2015, founded Open Legal Services in Salt Lake City in 2014. Even though the two didn’t initially plan to launch a not-for-profit law firm straight out of law school, they’ve since become evangelists for the model. They talk here about the not-for-profit model they embraced and the growth of their firm.
In this special ABA TECHSHOW episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Molly McDonough catches up with Legal Rebel Sarah Glassmeyer.
Glassmeyer, a trained law librarian and free law enthusiast, was named a Legal Rebel in 2016. She talks here about her relatively new job at the ABA’s Center for Innovation and the melding of her interests there. She gives a preview of what’s to come from the center.
In this special ABA TECHSHOW episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Molly McDonough catches up with Legal Rebel Sam Glover, founder of Lawyerist, a one-time blog turned robust legal information site.
Sam was named a Legal Rebel Trailblazer in February 2017. Here he talks about a new venture at Lawyerist: TBD Law, a unique conference collaboration with ‘09 Legal Rebel Matt Homann of Filament in St. Louis.
In this special ABA TECHSHOW episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Molly McDonough catches up with Legal Rebel Nicole Black.
Black was in the Journal’s first Rebels class in 2009. Just like then, when she was designated the “Boss of Blogs,” she continues to be a prolific blogger and Twitter user. She talks about blogging today and her gig at MyCase, which offers practice-management services to lawyers.
In this special ABA Techshow episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Molly McDonough catches up with Legal Rebels Ed Walters and Kevin O’Keefe.
Walters, a one-time BigLaw associate and co-founder of the legal-research service Fastcase, was named a Legal Rebel Trailblazer in October 2016. Kevin O’Keefe was in the Journal’s inaugural Rebels class in 2009. The two talk here about their new integration of Fastcase and Lexblog, enabling bloggers on the Lexblog platform to link directly to caselaw they’re analyzing in their blog posts.
Born and raised in Austria, Roland Vogl fell in love with California almost from the moment he arrived in 1999 as a student at Stanford Law School. In particular, he was drawn to the entrepreneurial ethos of Stanford’s home base of Silicon Valley.
“The idea of being in Silicon Valley and being immersed in the gung-ho spirit where people solve problems—not so much by policy and lawmaking but by building new systems—really appealed to me,” says Vogl, a 2017 Legal Rebels Trailblazer.
The website Lawyerist focuses on getting attorneys information they want. Determining what that is isn't hard, says founder Sam Glover, because readers frequently tell him through the site's discussion forum or on social media.
"Sometimes all you can get is anecdotes, asking as many people as you can find, to try and uncover information about stuff," says Glover, a 2017 Legal Rebels Trailblazer who uses the term anecdata to describe some of the site's reporting.
At 69, Judge Herbert Dixon doesn’t fit that epigram about old dogs and new tricks. He’s still proselytizing about high tech in courthouses and courtrooms, and he predicts its future. He’s still trying some cases as a senior judge, is a member of the ABA Board of Governors and now a Legal Rebels Trailblazer, and he’s engaged in so many other endeavors that he never seems to be (under immutable laws of motion) a body at rest.
When you ask Randi Mayes about the future of technology in law firms, she says its growth will stem from attorneys’ behavior rather than specific product offerings.
“The real possibility for change in the future sits more with the mindset,” says Mayes, the executive director of the International Legal Technology Association. “It’s all about the law firm adopting its client’s worldview and innovating service delivery with those views in mind.”
Randi Mayes is the founder and executive director of the International Legal Technology Association. She has also worked for worked for the Texas law firms Brown McCarroll (which merged with Husch Blackwell in 2013) and Small, Craig & Werkenthin. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Craig Ball likes to say he got into law to stay out of prison. The Austin, Texas-based attorney, professor and electronic evidence expert has always been passionate about technology—somewhat too passionate at times. When he was a teenager, he created a device that allowed him and his friends to make long-distance calls for free. He got in trouble with the law. But luckily for him, the prosecutor and judge didn’t think his crime was all that serious.
“The lawyer who helped me out hired me as a law clerk, and that put me on the path to becoming a lawyer,” says Ball, who earned his JD from the University of Texas School of Law in 1982, after which he opened his own law firm.
The advent of the personal computer and the internet reignited Ball’s interest in technology. He became fascinated with computer forensics and the nascent field of electronic discovery—areas that still flummox many lawyers and judges today.
Legal technology has changed since 1999, when Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal founded the legal research service Fastcase—but not as much as they’d like.
Phil Rosenthal and Ed Walters are the founders of the legal research service Fastcase. They were associates with Covington & Burling when they started the company in 1999.
Most people see librarians as the quiet personification of technical obsolescence. Jean O'Grady is out to change that. The senior director of research and knowledge at DLA Piper in Washington, D.C., is at the forefront of pushing the legal industry toward embracing technology as a means of enhancing the practice of law. Through her acclaimed blog, Dewey B Strategic (which has been selected for the ABA Journal Blawg 100 every year since 2012), as well as through numerous public appearances and interviews, O'Grady informs lawyers about what the current legal tech landscape looks like and what kinds of innovative tools are at their disposal.
The license plates on Jerome Goldman’s Subaru Legacy reads “OYEZ,” in honor of his U.S. Supreme Court-focused multimedia archive. Now at age 71, Goldman, named a Legal Rebels Trailblazer by the ABA Journal, says he has some more “ephemera” that he hopes will get on the site, which is moving from Chicago-Kent College of Law to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute. “This means passing along my knowledge gained over 25 years, plus offering complete details regarding my workflow,” says Goldman, who believes that his political science education was instrumental in understanding judicial behavior.
Stanford Law School Professor Deborah Rhode is the enemy of complacency. This Legal Rebels Trailblazer is one of the most cited scholars in legal ethics, though she wears many more hats. She has carved out specialties in discrimination (ranging from race and gender to the unfair advantages that flow to physical beauty, often probing their intersection with legal ethics) and in criticism of legal education itself.
"Working with tech startups, I realized that there is this vast unmet need for affordable legal services," lawyer Charley Moore says. "There's a real need for technology to make it more efficient for lawyers to be able to answer simple questions online and to be able to represent small businesses, individuals, startups and families at fraction of traditional cost."
Moore decided to try to fill that need with Rocket Lawyer, his online, do-it-yourself legal services provider that helps individuals and small businesses access legal forms (and, if necessary, local attorneys.)
Moore was more bullish about Rocket Lawyer's recent move to provide employees at large companies with comprehensive legal plans similar to health insurance.
"Our Q&A service is growing very fast," Moore says. "You can ask a question about any legal situation on any mobile device, and an attorney will respond to that question at an affordable price."
Lawyers often think technology should always work. That's aspirational, says Sharon Nelson, president of the cybersecurity, information technology and digital forensics firm Sensei Enterprises Inc.
"People can screw up, but technology fails too," says Nelson. "You really need to recover from what the problem is, as opposed to pointing fingers and being angry."
Nelson and John W. Simek, her business partner and husband, formed Sensei Enterprises in 1997. Simek, an engineer, previously worked for Mobil Oil as a chief network designer and troubleshooter. The two met when she hired him to computerize her law practice.
"John had the technical genius, and I had the legal, business and marketing experience," she says "We figured that together I could sell his talents, and it ended up that I sold us both. People were happy to have someone they could talk technology with, along with someone who knew legal ethics."
"We didn't start out to be disruptive," says John Suh, LegalZoom's chief executive officer. "We were set up to fix a problem. The legal system was broken and too many people were frozen out of it."
For Suh, the main goal of LegalZoom continues to be providing access to the legal system for millions of Americans who can't afford an attorney and do not qualify for free legal services. "So much of our legal system is focused on BigLaw or access to justice for those below the poverty line," says Suh. "What about the 84 percent or so of people between that? For them, the system really has failed."
What Suh has done during his tenure as CEO is transform the company from a do-it-yourself outfit into one that has partnered with lawyers.
"The perception that we're an online legal company with no human lawyers is just not true," says Suh. "Over the last five years, we've embraced lawyers and become quite adept with working with them." There have been over 200,000 one-on-one consultations between LegalZoom customers and lawyers licensed in their respective states, he says.
Ernie Svenson-a.k.a. well-known blogger Ernie the Attorney-was an early evangelist for what he calls The Paperless Chase. The basic premise: "Anything you can do with paper, you can do more with PDF. Way more."
Now he spends a lot of time teaching, training and speaking, all aimed at enabling small-firm and solo lawyers with the ability "to save money, make money and outmatch bigger firm adversaries," he says.
In fact, calling Svenson an evangelist is an understatement. "The walls are closing in on lawyers who haven't adapted, with e-filing in the courts and the increased use of the PDF format by others," Svenson says. "It's here. It's good. Do it."