These are the days of great intentions. Around New Year’s Day, it’s energizing to think about future possibilities. The workout plan you’ll follow. The new skills you’ll learn. The career defining moments you’ll create.

But no matter how inspired, most people fail to move forward as envisioned. Many do not make it past the first week of January, overwhelmed by “urgent” tasks related to the return to work, school, etc. Today’s inspiration is insufficient for sustained, long-term career success. The key is converting today’s inspiration into an actionable plan. Continue Reading Convert New Year Inspiration Into Long-Term Career Success – Today!

Law students and junior lawyers often worry that they lack sufficient legal expertise to blog. This is driven in part by the emergence of many blogs that feature articles, not blog posts. But blogging opportunities include much more than applying extensive legal expertise.

Kevin O’Keefe, LexBlog founder and CEO, encourages law students and lawyers to share content, provide a take, and talk about the things that they’re doing. You can do these things without holding yourself out as an expert. One of the benefits, in addition to connecting with others, is that doing it well demonstrates interest in a niche and that you are doing the work to develop expertise. Continue Reading Permission to Blog: It’s Not All About Legal Expertise #90MinBlog

Two years ago, I joined Michigan State University College of Law as the Assistant Dean for Career Development and a Professor of Law in Residence. It has been a productive two years. We assembled a great Career Services Office (CSO) team, transformed the office through “lean systems thinking,” and worked with students, faculty, staff, our Board of Trustees, and alumni to improve employment statistics significantly.

Recently, I was presented the opportunity to devote 100 percent of my time to teaching and being the director of LegalRnD – The Center for Legal Services Innovation at MSU Law. While I will miss working with and leading the CSO team, I could not be more enthusiastic about the opportunity to improve legal-service delivery and access to legal services through LegalRnD.

Working with ReInvent Law

MSU Law alumni talk about their nontraditional legal careers and the need for T-Shaped lawyers: Amani Smathers (Legal Solutions Architect at Davis Wright Tremaine), Joe Kelly (Software Engineer at Seyfarth Shaw), Patrick Ellis (Counsel, Office of the General Counsel at General Motors), and Brian Pike (Knowledge Automation Architect at Riverview Law).
MSU Law alumni talk about their nontraditional legal careers and the need for T-Shaped lawyers: Amani Smathers (Legal Solutions Architect at Davis Wright Tremaine), Joe Kelly (Software Engineer at Seyfarth Shaw), Patrick Ellis (Counsel, Office of the General Counsel at General Motors), and Brian Pike (Knowledge Automation Architect at Riverview Law).

My connection to MSU Law began with the ReInvent Law program and its co-founders, Dan Katz and Renee Knake. Dan and I have know each other since our days as students at the University of Michigan Law School. After law school, Dan earned a PhD at Michigan and I clerked for Judge James L. Ryan on the U.S. Court of Appeals. After my clerkship, I joined the Honigman law firm in Detroit, resolving and litigating supply-chain and other business disputes and advising clients on information technology, cybersecurity, and data privacy matters.

Over the years after law school, Dan and I engaged in many conversations about law practice and the need for innovation and technology to improve legal-service delivery. Dan invited me to lecture to his Quantitative Analysis for Lawyers course. Dan and Renee invited me to help with workshops for their Entrepreneurial Lawyering class. Shortly afterwards, I began teaching as an adjunct law professor. First, I began teaching Negotiation at the University of Michigan Law School. Then I worked with Dan to develop and teach Litigation {Data, Theory, Practice, & Process} at MSU Law. In February 2014, I was invited to give a talk at ReInvent Law New York, Law Practice: From Art to Science.

It was because I was an adjunct professor at MSU Law that I received an email notice about the assistant dean for career development opening. I’d been promoted to equity partner at Honigman and was not looking to make a move. But I could not turn down the opportunity to work with students, industry partners, Dan and Renee, and other ReInvent Law supporters and contributors, including Dean Joan Howarth, Adam Candeub, Jim Chen, and Dan Barnhizer.

13.64% Increase In “Gold Standard” Job Placement Over Two Years

I’m proud of the career services team that I assembled and the results that we achieved. A key career services metric is the percentage of graduates placed into “gold standard” jobs–full-time, long-term, bar-passage-required or JD-advantage jobs. In our first year, the percentage of 2014 graduates reporting “gold standard” jobs increased by 9.36% over the prior year. In our second year, 70.45% of 2015 MSU Law graduates reported gold standard jobs, 4.28% more than the prior year and a 13.64% increase over two years.

In career services, we applied the foundational disciplines that hold promise for transforming legal-service delivery: process improvement, project management, metrics and data analytics, and technology. We developed a lean, “continuous improvement” culture, improved core processes, and implemented several new programs. (More on this and the numbers above in my next post.)

Launching LegalRnD – The Center for Legal Services Innovation

LegalRnD – The Center for Legal Services Innovation
LegalRnD – The Center for Legal Services Innovation

In July 2015, we launched LegalRnD, which replaced ReInvent Law. I was honored that Dean Howarth entrusted me to lead LegalRnD. The program has generated many opportunities for MSU Law and our students. Interest in LegalRnD has continued to grow, so much that I proposed that I spend 100 percent of my time leading LegalRnD and teaching. I am thrilled that this has come to fruition.

I am thrilled to announce that I have joined Michigan State University College of Law as its Assistant Dean for Career Development. It was a very difficult decision to leave Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, particularly when I had just been elevated to equity partner in 2013. I enjoyed working with Honigman’s talented lawyers, professionals, and staff to solve complex legal problems for our clients. I also appreciated the resources and support that Honigman provided for me to develop my career. While my practice was the centerpiece, I also thoroughly enjoyed writing and speaking for practitioners, teaching at the University of Michigan Law School and MSU Law, studying and speaking about legal innovation and technology, and working with law students to help them prepare for legal careers.

As an adjunct professor at MSU Law, I was copied on an email announcing the Assistant Dean opening. Awhile after reading it, I began to reflect on how much I enjoy studying legal practice and the legal industry, fostering legal innovation, and working with law students. Watching the video of my talk at ReInvent Law New York City, Law Practice: From Art to Science, reconfirmed that. The more I thought about it, the opportunity to spend more time doing these things, as well as the opportunity to work with MSU Law administration, faculty, and alumni and legal employers, was an opportunity I could not pass up. I am very excited to begin this new chapter in my career at MSU Law!