The robots we may need to fear could be ourselves

RE-ENGINEERING HUMANITY
By Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger
430 pp. Cambridge University Press
$17.94 Paperback

I carry my smartphone with me all day. I use it to check the weather, share thoughts with family members (text messages), communicate with professional colleagues (email and Twitter), stay up to date on the news, and answer questions (ahem, do research). It has become, one could argue, an integral part of my daily life and maybe an extension of me. But is it a tool I use to make my life easier or is it a demonic device that others use to engineer my…


An entertaining history of intellectual property

A HISTORY OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN 50 OBJECTS
Edited by Claudy Op den Kamp and Dan Hunter
450 pp. Cambridge University Press
$34.95 Hardback

Sweet memories of childhood. Kicking a soccer ball around with your friends. Playing with Barbies and LEGO® blocks. Listening to the latest hits on your mix tape. Watching cartoons Saturday morning and football games on Sunday afternoon. And on rainy days, maybe a trip to the museum. These are some of the things we or our children did that bring back warm memories. No wonder advertisers use them to draw…


The likelihood of confusion in legal services delivery tools

Project Management has become one of those sexy marketing things law firms use to convince clients they are on top of the New Law movement. It has become commonplace for law firms to respond to RFPs, tout at conferences, and otherwise shout from the rooftops that they, too, have joined the modern ages with Project Management. But what do they mean, and what do we mean in the legal industry, when we say “Project Management”?

What Is Project Management?

When we talk about Project Management or project management in law we are not specific. …


Bringing legal services delivery into the 21st Century

THE LEAN LAW FIRM
Run your firm like the world’s most efficient and productive businesses
By Larry Port and Dave Maxfield
238 pp. American Bar Association, 2018.
$79.95 (non-members), $64.95 (ABA members),
$49.95 (ABA Law Practice Section members)

Lean thinking, a philosophy expressed through simple methods, has become the leading way for organizations throughout societies to improve. It traces back to the philosophical work of Charles Peirce in the late 1800s. He began developing — working for a brief period with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and other lawyers — the philosophy of pragmatism. Sakichi Toyoda, the “King of Japanese inventors”…


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It means E&Y will soon own Riverview Law

Years ago in my early days working as a lawyer in-house, a major company in my employer’s industry acquired another, much smaller player also in the industry. Everyone was talking about what the acquisition meant— for our company, for the industry, and on a larger scale. Our CEO had been around the block a few times in more than one industry and was seldom disquieted by anything that happened. When asked what he saw as the ramifications of the transaction he replied, “It means that Company A now owns Company B.”

He was not trying to be glib or funny…


Without tested theories on how to deliver legal services, we are just messing around

A few days ago, Dan Rodriguez and I had a brief Twitter exchange about theory and the practice of law. For those who don’t know, Dan is the Dean and Harold Washington Professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and someone it pays to listen to as he is a very bright guy.

In our Twitter exchange, I said that it was “fine” to have a theory and Dan said it was “necessary”. He also threw in the comment that perhaps the lack of theory in the practice (something I said I had witnessed) was responsible for the mess…


A profession facing an existential crisis

When I was an undergraduate student, I suffered from lack of focus. Unlike many in my cohort, I enjoyed a broad range of classes. My pre-med friends liked science courses and, for the most part, endured humanities courses. My humanities friends steered clear of the science buildings and lived for courses that explored the meaning of life. Other friends spent hours in art classes, or carried around thick books with fascinating titles such as “Intermediate Cost Accounting” or “Financial Management”. But I enjoyed a broad palette of courses.

I took many of the heavy science courses (inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry…


It may not be neurosurgery, but it’s close

Picture: SWNS.

T o understand why lean thinking is struggling in the legal industry, we need to understand who is teaching lean. Most of the people who “teach” lean in the legal industry have little experience implementing lean. They have read books, consulted, taught, and advised, but they haven’t been on the front lines doing thousands of hours of lean. And that, my friends, means they don’t really know lean.

Those who teach lean in the legal industry today do so mostly from books. That means they are teaching lean based on what a professor or consultant (who also did little or…


Clients want the modern chimera: part hedgehog and part fox

Milo Winter (1919). Illustration for Aesop’s Fables.

Archilochus, a Greek lyric poet (c. 680-c. 645 BC), is famous for his poetry fragment: “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing.”

Πόλλ᾽ οἶδ᾽ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἕν μέγα.

The English philosopher, Sir Isaiah Berlin, popularized that fragment by using it as inspiration for the title and the analysis in his famous book: “The Hedgehog and the Fox” (named in The Guardian as number 28 on the list of 100 best nonfiction books). Berlin divided the world of writers and thinkers into two groups. The hedgehogs have deep knowledge in one area and view the world through…

Ken Grady

Writing & innovating at the intersection of people, processes, & tech. @LeanLawStrategy; https://medium.com/the-algorithmic-society.

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