Introduction to Legal Geek Making, Designing and Doing

I’m at the Legal Geek North America conference in Brooklyn (on 25 June 2019). It brings together multiple players in legal technology and innovation for a day of rapid fire, 8 to 12 minute, TED-style talks, with a total of 50 speakers in one day.

This is the “Making, Designing and Doing” session, starting at 1pm. There are eight (8) speakers. .

As is my custom, I live blog some conference sessions. Given the rapid pace and short sessions here, I may not be able to capture each short talk. And normally, I would include links to speakers but doing so here was too daunting given the volume. As always with my live posts, please forgive typos and misunderstandings of meaning. I post these as sessions end. 

For other posts from this conference, click here.

Opening Sessions Short Talks

Headline talk – Crowdsourcing ideas within legal firms to supercharge innovation
Rob Wilmot, Crowdicity

In many companies, innovation ideas from the trenches never see the light of day. Organizations have many excuses to avoid new initiatives: no budget, no interest, it’s above your pay grade, etc.

Hierarchies have dominated organizations for generations. Those at top had to fight long and hard to get there.

In law firms, lawyers are too busy billing to innovate. Crowdicity allows organizations to crowdsource that allows colleagues to co-create and collaborate for open innovation and democratizing innovation. It’s goal is to convert information to knowledge by connecting dots in organizations.

Says has many law firm customers but that they don’t let him use name. But he is in CMS incubator so can talk about it. “CMS #hacks” allows lawyers and staff to submit ideas. Software has a process to filter ideas.

Once CMS embraced this software, firm got 24 ideas that had already been done. Firm had no mechanism to transmit those initiatives. But firm also several big ideas and quick wins.

Firm provided an incentive for idea contributors: trip to Silicon Valley (from London).

Does the law need bad design?
Nicole Bradick Theory and Principle

Software design and development shop working exclusively in legal.

“Law is full of bad design”

But we need to good design – and a process to make sure there is good UI / UX. How do we go from legacy bad products to one with good design? You can blow up or incrementally change.

The “blow up” option – big changes – do not go over well with lawyers (or most other users). Lawyers have work to do and complete change is too disruptive. So incremental design changes are a better approach for gaining adoption.

One challenge is that lawyers tend to like seeing all options at once, leading to cluttered design. Other challenges include too much use of Internet Explorer and regulatory constraints.

Also, lawyers use much software regularly. And that also requires moving slower in design change, relative to consumer market, where usage is often intermittent and for short periods.

Customer Experience: Driving enterprise legal tech product adoption through customer success and customer experience
Christie Guimond & Monet Fauntleroy, She Breaks the Law and White & Case

Customer experience (CX) is the outcome between the interaction of provider and customer. It includes all touch points, from the email privilege disclaimers to service provided directly by the lawyer.

Monet differs slightly from Nicole in prior session: Focus more on overall CX rather than just just UX. Monet uses as example a high volume bagel shop that knows her preferences – via low tech Post-It notes. What matters is the experience, which is good, not the mechanics.

In designing CX:

  1. Pay attention to what customers don’t say, or what they say about you to each other.
  2. Measure the right things
  3. Think small.

CX is not static – you constantly have to adjust and improve.

The 5 Minute Hurdle: How to get Lawyers to Loosen Up and Start Designing
Tess Blair, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Still a practicing lawyers. Founded practice group two decades ago that serves as de facto innovation lab, including process improvement and design thinking.

You need to (1) know who you are working with, (2), prepare the experience to optimize engagement, (3) use jujitsu (use their negatives as positives).

Design teams need enthusiasm, patience, empathy, acceptance of failure, and teamwork. But these conflict with the dominant characteristics of lawyers (skeptical, urgent, not sociable, not resilient, seek autonomy).

To get to the perfect end product you have to try things along the way that are not perfect.

To optimize engagement: (1) raise positive emotions: incentive, praise, calm, meditative state (2) Inspire: create right environment, acts of excellence, humor, joyfulness.

Involve clients to help motivate lawyers.

The emerging competitive frontier in BigLaw is Practice Venturing
Kim Craig & Joshua Kubicki, Bold Duck Studio

Bold Duck is a business and service model design agency.

The reason to innovate is competitive advantage. If that’s not the reason, then what you’re doing is a hobby.

Law firms face growing “operational stress”. Business cultures – across industries – undervalue operations. You cannot innovate without dealing with operational changes.

For lawyers and law firms, you have to look at operational models by practice group. The model differs by practice. And each practice draws on a different mix of firm business services.

Law firm is a portfolio of similar businesses (practices). But increasingly, practice groups are becoming less similar. If you are the blue model in a sea of red, then that creates bad friction.

Law firms will not sit still as they see real competition from alternative legal service providers and the Big Four.

“Practice Venturing” is Bold Duck approach to develop practice strategies. And it’s a lot hard work – but worth it.

A rising tide lifts all boats – what about an open Legal Platform?
Irish McIntyre, Thomson Reuters

Not captured. Good talk but it used extensive Star Wars analogy and Blockbuster analogy that was hard to capture.

‘Legal UX’ – A cooler name for #BringBackBoring. Internal and external user experiences is the better approach to legal innovation
Mitch Kowalski, Aoyuan International

We are selling customers an experience. That’s what’s important. How do we get the moment of extreme customer satisfaction?

We regularly read Big Law announcements about innovation. But “innovation” doesn’t mean anything. It sounds good but has different meanings to different people.

In reaction, law firms look for something concrete to package or explain innovation. So they use technology.

This is causing a backlash, epitomized in Twitter hashtag #BringBackBoring. Substitute more concrete words for innovation would help address this concern. Mitch says firms should rename innovation as optimizer of user experience – respond to real customer needs.

Digital assets and estate planning
Jason Moyse, Law Made

You will die. But your digital life can continue after you.

US stats: 170 accounts attached to a single email address. 34% receive paperless statements. $100k held in digital assets.

It takes 40 minutes on average to read one website Terms of Service. Few read them and they can govern what happens to your digital assets after you die. And there are new categories of digital assets (eg, in simulated worlds) that trade for real-world money. Plus cryto currency, which requires a private key, which likely becomes inaccessible after someone dies. And then there are decades of email volume.

RUFADAA is legislation in many states that governs disposition of digital assets. And by the way, using someone else’s password is impersonation.

Legal Tech Needs More Millennial. Reynen Court and legal innovation
Christian Lang, Reynen Court

Very clever talk and humorous but hard to capture, especially given content of a few slides.