Category: Legal Tech
So, so much chatter about Chat GPT. I believe some of it. I think that some of it is nonsense.
Here is the bottom line:
- Lawyers did not go out of business when computers were invented and we lost all of those hours reviewing draft after draft of retyped documents.
- We were still able to generate enough billable hours, even after we became able to produce documents faster with document automation software.
- Online legal databases did not replace articling students and junior associates.
Many of you know that I have deluded myself into thinking that I am some sort of an ‘internet influencer’ (like the Kardashians, only better looking and not as rich).
In this exalted role, I try to stir up thought about legal tech on behalf of Appara, which sells records management and document automation software.
One of the reasons that Appara wants me to write about legal tech is to bring attention to an obstacle that their industry faces, being that lawyers fear implementing technology since doing things faster means spending less time, which means less billable hours.
The Devil is in the Details
I spent some time speaking to one of the founders of Appara to better understand how using their software would have made my life easier back in the day.
You can read my thoughts on their site by clicking the link below.
Field of Dreams
Bob was a brilliant lawyer. He loved technology and was a wizard at math.
Back in the day when we used fax machines and they stood alone somewhere near the photocopier, Bob became enamoured with the idea of software that would allow the assistants to send faxes from their desktop. Bob ran various scenarios to demonstrate how much money we would save if we purchased this product. He calculated the salary and benefits earned by each assistant per minute and multiplied it by the number of minutes each assistant spent walking to and from the fax machine every day. We were going to save a fortune.
Technology Levels the Playing Field
Back when I was a teenager, I worked in a warehouse with Warren.
Warren and I unloaded trucks. Warren would stand in the truck and toss boxes to me which I would stack on the floor. A truck might contain boxes of various sizes and weights. One small box might contain screwdrivers that weigh a ton. The next might be a large container of disposable aluminum cooking trays that was light as a feather.
Back in the day, I used to teach junior lawyers how to practice law. I had me some rules. They went something like this:
- Do not delegate something that you do not know how to do yourself. If you do, how are you going to know if the work product is correct?
- Do not include anything in a document if you do not know why it is there. I will be unimpressed if you give me a document and cannot explain why you included every single word in it.
- As a corollary to Rule number 2, never say to me that you included something ‘because it was in the precedent.’ If you do that, I will be apoplectic and that will not be a good thing for either of us.
These rules helped me train a number of junior lawyers to be pretty good at what they did.
My Summer With the Great White Sharks
In 2014, I was pretty fed up with life and I decided to do something different. Since my years practicing law had not prepared me to take any really big risks, I decided to take a small one. I rented a cottage on Cape Cod for the summer and set out to prove that I could work from anywhere.
In the old days, lawyers joined firms and stayed there, progressing from Associate to Partner. Nowadays there is a great deal of lateral movement among firms. Law firms do not seem to have figured out that they have to do something to manage their business in the face of this constant change of personnel. Appara asked me to think about how legal tech fits in. You can read my thoughts on their site by clicking the link below.
My legal career drove me crazy. Granted, it was not a very long drive, but I suspect that with a bit of knowledge and a great deal of counselling, perhaps I could have taken an off-ramp before I got there.
In a better world, people contemplating a career in law would be told that: (i) it is stressful; and (ii) they should take steps to become their best psychological self before they start down that road.