This week, after boring myself to death listening to Lillian McEwen discuss Clarence Thomas’s “activities” on Larry King, I knocked back a couple cans of Four Loko to ease the pain and got right to work on this week’s Rundown.
Lots of free stuff available after the jump, including a free e-book on legal productivity, a newsletter on social media and the law, and a whitepaper on law practice management. There’s also a website that covers the entire history of social media from way back in the day when we had Usernets and BBS, and another article on how dubious discovery could land you in the slammer.
So let’s get on with it. Here is this week’s Rundown…
This week, in between eating as many burgers with extra onions as I could at Rogue States, and lobbying heavily for my law school to be more like Harvard and hide their GPAs (in my case, I was really hoping they could implement that retroactively), I managed to collect lots of good material for this week’s Rundown.
Among other things, the Rundown features a major merger, more on predictive coding, another Masters Conference write-up, several surveys, a cartoon caption contest, how technology is helping those in pro bono — and, oh, a bit of litigation that could last a long, long time….
This week, while taking a break from my favorite pastime — hanging out with strippers and snorting coke with federal judges — I attended the Masters Conference in Washington, DC. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this conference, it has carved out a significant niche for itself in the e-discovery universe. The Masters Conference is a gathering of legal technology thought leaders from all over the world, who come together every year at this time to talk about all things e-discovery. The yearly meeting was the brainchild of entrepreneur extraordinaire Robert Childress, president of Wave Software.
After attending last year’s Masters Conference, I thought I knew what to expect again this year: a small meeting (certainly not on the level of a LegalTech or an ILTA Annual Meeting), with the usual suspects, and similar — if not the same — topics of discussion.
Well, what a difference a year makes! The Masters Conference may only be in its fifth year of existence, but it seems to have just had its coming-out party. I’ll give you my three takeaways, after the jump…
Welcome to the latest installment of The Rundown, a review of recent developments in the world of legal technology. Let’s plunge right in.
* Happy Birthday to Clio, a legal technology company that helps to streamline law offices. Clio is officially two years old, which is like twenty years in Biglaw.
* I pick up a lot of information about legal technology on Twitter. Two of the best people to follow in this subject area are Rob Robinson of Orange Legal Technologies and Eric Feistel of Integreon. These guys tweet out a plethora of information on a daily basis. It should be no surprise that in a past life they used to work together for another vendor.
* Another writer who has a firm grasp of e-discovery issues is Greg Buckles of ediscoveryjournal.com. This week he has an interesting post about vendor trends at LegalTech, which — hard to believe — is right around the corner.
The world of legal technology was quite busy this week. After culling through countless articles, press releases, and blog posts, I selected the stellar few, the finest gems, and most importantly, the ones I like, to share with the Above The Law faithful. I do it so you don’t have to.
That’s the question that Arin Greenwood — who previously brought us this great article, as you may recall — tackles in a long but interesting piece for the Washington City Paper, entitled Attorney at Blah. Greenwood writes:
For more and more law school graduates, this is the legal life: On a given day, they may plow through a few hundred documents—e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, memos, and anything else on a hard drive. Each document appears on their computer screen. They read it, then click one of the buttons on the screen that says “relevant” or “not relevant,” and then they look at the next document.
This isn’t anyone’s dream job, but more and more lawyers in big cities around the country are finding that seven years of higher education, crushing student loans, and an unfriendly job market have brought them to windowless rooms around the city, where they do well-paid work that sometimes seems to require no more than a law degree, the use of a single index finger, and the ability to sit still for 15 hours a day. Is this being a lawyer? It is now.
The best stuff is at the beginning, in which Greenwood paints a vivid (and hilarious) picture of a temp attorney’s daily grind of document review. The end of the piece, a description of the grim realities of the legal job market for most law school graduates, might be interesting to lay readers, but it will be all too familiar to anyone who’s heard of Loyola 2L.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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