In July I had the honor of teaching for the inaugural Legal Technology and Operations summer program at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany. The program attracted 33 students from all over the globe: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Estonia, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine. About 75% of the students were professionals taking leave to participate in the program, including two judges and more than a half dozen from major international law firms (all lawyers, with a couple now in operations roles).

The program began with my course, “Computational Law and Rules-Based Automation,” one of six 13.25-hour courses in the program. Classes met from 9 to 5 nearly every day, with several supplemental lectures in the evenings plus a study trip to Frankfurt the first weekend. Given this packed schedule, I worried that the students might not have sufficient time for outside reading and the team projects that I’d planned. But those concerns were quickly alleviated. The students were incredibly engaged throughout the course and delivered outstanding projects.

Team 1 – Validity of anti-compete clauses in employment contracts

Leading off the program, I started my course with an introduction to overarching concepts (e.g., the changing legal landscape; people, process, and data before technology). Next, I provided an overview of artificial intelligence, including rules- versus data-driven systems. (Assigned reading included Computational Law: The Cop in the Backseat, by Michael Genesereth, Codex – The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics.) From there, we jumped into an exercise that required each student to build an interactive question and answer system in QnA Markup that would guide a user to a determination of whether the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to the user. To get the students started, I provided them with a couple of flowcharts of this GDPR analysis published by international law firms.

Team 1 – Validity of anti-compete clauses in employment contracts

I’ve had great success using QnA Markup in my Institute for the Future of Law Practice, University of Michigan Law School, and Michigan State LegalRnD courses. (I’ll share more about 2017-18 LegalRnD projects in another post.) David Colarusso, Director of the Legal Innovation and Technology Lab at Suffolk University Law School, developed QnA and makes it freely available. QnA is easy to learn, but powerful enough to prototype solutions to challenging problems. I use it to introduce computational thinking, conditional logic, basic programming principles, document automation, and expert systems. Building a QnA expert system requires a firm grasp of the current process for delivering services and deep knowledge of the applicable substantive law. Therefore, this hands-on, team-based approach is not only an excellent way to learn about legal technology and contributing to an interdisciplinary team, it is also a great way to really learn the intricacies of the underlying substantive law.

Team 4 – Paths to Divorce

After the students completed this introductory QnA exercise, I put them into initial teams of four to brainstorm legal-services delivery problems that are good candidates for expert system and document automation solutions. It quickly became apparent that I had an enthusiastic, highly engaged group. They generated 17 excellent potential use cases in a range of jurisdictions. After each student ranked their interest in the use cases, I assigned them eight teams, which tackled the following challenges:

Team 5 - NDA Assembly
Team 5 – NDA Assembly
Team Number Topic Description
1 Validity of anti-compete clauses in employment contracts

Employers want to prevent departing employees from disclosing valuable know how or other sensitive commercial information to potential competitors. For that they include non-compete clauses in employment contracts. The law and court decisions have set parameters that define when those non-compete clauses are valid or not.

We propose a system that helps departing employees understand whether not complying with the clause puts them at risk of a lawsuit.

4 Family law Paths to divorce: a decision tree on whether a couple qualifies for divorce by public notary, marriage office or court depending on the spouses’ context.
5 NDA NDA template selection and prepopulation
7 Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG) In international contracts on the sale of goods, the CISG is oftentimes to be applied (lots of rules in the convention) if parties do not explicitly exclude it (e.g. “This contract is governed by the law of Germany under exclusion of the CISG” (if they leave out the last part of this sentence, the CISG will be applied in court even though it just says “law of Germany”)). This will often lead to a situation in which lawyers don’t know which law is applicable to the contract. This presents problems because hardly anyone is well-versed in the provisions of the CISG. The idea would be to create a tool that helps with determining whether the CISG is applicable in this case.
11 Financial Regulation / ICO Is my token a financial instrument under EU-Law?
12 Consumer Rights As a consumer, can I return the good I bought?
13 GDPR – Data Privacy Creating GDPR compliant privacy notices.
15 GDPR – Data Privacy Assessing compliance of privacy notices for businesses

During the balance of this first class, the teams began work on their one-week sprint to build a working prototype of a QnA expert system with document automation, which they would present as a team to the class the following Monday. Ideally the students would have had more training in project management and process improvement at this point. For a jump start, I introduced lean startup principles and the Improvement Kata and had them read the “Amazon press release” “working backwards” approach to product development. I asked the students to use the Amazon approach as a framework to focus their work and as a guide for their initial team presentation of their use case during our next class meeting.

During part of the second and third classes, the students worked on their projects and also engaged with other teams for “user testing” and feedback. Students also completed assignments outside of class on other topics, including JavaScript, Bitcoin, blockchain, and smart contracts, which provided fodder for wide-ranging in-class discussions about the future of legal-services delivery, access to legal services, and the rule of law around the globe.

Team 7 – Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG)

As busy as we kept the students with my class, other classes, evening lectures, and activities, requiring a team project presented a challenge. And the students squarely met that challenge, delivering excellent prototypes and presentations during our final class meeting.

It was exhilarating to be a part of the Bucerius program. These students and many others around the world have embraced legal innovation and technology and are actively working to improve legal-services delivery, justice systems, and society. I cannot wait to see the big things that they do in the future!

Team 7 – Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG)

 

Team 7 – Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG)

 

Team 11 – Financial Regulation & ICOs

 

Team 11 – Financial Regulation & ICOs

 

Team 12 – Consumer rights to return goods

 

Team 13 – GDPR Privacy Notice Assembly

 

Team 13 – GDPR Privacy Notice Assembly

 

Team 13 – GDPR Privacy Notice Assembly

 

Team 15 – Assessing compliance of GDPR notices

 

Team15 – GDPR – PNPClick

 

I am thrilled to share that I’ve joined Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as a Visiting Professor of Law for the 2018-19 academic year. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to contribute to Northwestern Law’s many initiatives to continuously improve the value of the education delivered to its students and prepare its students to have an impact in our society.

Northwestern Law’s Strategic Plan, “Leading Law,” recognizes that law schools are “educating lawyers for a profession that is undergoing enormous change.” The Strategic Plan says that Northwestern Law  “accept[s] the changing, dynamic profession not with resignation, but with excitement.” This excitement stems from the opportunity for Northwestern Law “to leverage our competitive advantages, to expand our impact and our reputation.” What are these competitive advantages?

  1. Northwestern Law is a place of innovation.
  2. Northwestern Law is student-centered.
  3. Northwestern Law is interdisciplinary.

I share this excitement about meeting the challenges of our changing profession. In the future, today’s law students will improve legal services-delivery, expand access to legal services, expand the rule of law, and contribute to multidisciplinary teams solving society’s “wicked” problems. We must innovate and think big, especially in law school. (I developed these thoughts a bit more in an Above the Law interview, alt.legal: Law Schools Can, Should, And Must Teach Innovation.)

Interdisciplinary opportunities at Northwestern Law include working with talented law faculty with PhDs and expertise in many domains and well-established relationships with other Northwestern schools. I’ve already benefited greatly from initial meetings and discussions about interdisciplinary research and classes. These opportunities are reflected in the classes that I will teach:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Legal Reasoning (Fall 2018; JD students)
  • Innovation Lab (Spring 2019; JD, Master of Science in Law, and Computer Science students; co-teaching with Law Professor David L. Schwarz and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Kristian J. Hammond)
  • Law of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (Spring 2019; JD students)
  • Assessing AI and Computational Technologies (Spring 2019; Master of Science in Law students)
  • Assessing AI and Computational Technologies (Spring 2019; San Francisco Immersion Program; JD and Kellogg School of Management students)

My connection to Northwestern Law began several years ago with an introduction to Alyson Carrel, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law. Alyson was very generous with her time and answered all of my questions during my early days of teaching Negotiation at the University of Michigan Law School, while I was still practicing at Honigman. Several of my Michigan Law classes completed negotiation simulations with Alyson’s Northwestern Law students.

Later, Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez appointed Alyson as the new Assistant Dean of Law and Technology at Northwestern Law. Since then, my interactions with Alyson have focused on improving legal-services delivery, technology, and legal education. While at Michigan State, I greatly appreciated and benefited from opportunities to collaborate with and the support provided by Alyson and Dean Rodriguez. They also see the enormous opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary work to generate both individual and collective value for law schools, the legal profession, the emerging legal industry, and society at large.

In addition to my work at Northwestern Law, I remain an affiliated faculty member at CodeX – the Stanford Center for Legal InformaticsI am also working on updates to the Legal Services Innovation Index. In future posts, I plan to write about these projects and complete a wrap-up post about LegalRnD projects completed during my final year at Michigan State. (Most have known about my move to Northwestern Law for awhile, including from a March 1, 2018 Dean Rodriguez tweet and March 15, 2018 Northwestern Law tweet.)

Now that I’ll be living in Chicago, I look forward to more frequent meetings of the Chicago Legal Innovation meetup as well. We’ve had strong attendance at meetings by Northwestern Law students in the past, and I look forward to seeing many more Northwestern Law students at future meetings!

Why do so many of today’s problems remain unsolved? Often, we have no shortage of viable solutions. Additionally, in many cases we have a critical mass of people committed to solving the problem. Yet despite abundant ideas, energy, and action, the problems persist.

How can we improve? Start by making scientific thinking a habit and using a Mission (or Business-Model) canvas.

Scientific thinking is embedded in lean thinking, as illustrated in Toyota Kata. Many similar approaches can also be reduced, at their essence, to the basic scientific method. The critical point is to identify conclusions and assumptions and recognize that we must experiment to test our ideas for solving problems—we do not know the answers, we must test our ideas and learn from experiments.

Scientific thinking involves more than prototyping and iterating. It’s critical to have a hypothesis and write it down. What did we expect? What actually happened? What will we try next? This is how we learn. (Entrepreneurs like to say “fail fast.” Lawyers have trouble embracing this. Thus, I try to emphasize that we want to “learn fast.”)

We get the greatest value from experiments when everyone has a shared understanding of the mission. There are many advantages of using a Business-Model (or, as described by Steve Blank, a Mission Canvas). A canvas organizes a group’s thinking around the critical issues. It’s also an excellent visual medium for capturing input from individuals and communicating it back to everyone. Additionally, it’s easy to quickly generate multiple canvases, depicting different models. This can be especially helpful to keep participants focused on generating ideas for testing rather than killing ideas before they can be further explored, tested, and improved.

#90minuteBlogPost

Legal industry leaders and analysts seem to suggest that United Kingdom law firms are out in front when it comes to legal innovation and technology adoption. The data my research team and I have assembled for the Legal Services Innovation Index lend some support to this.

Having just launched this project, I wanted to share a few Tableau Vizzes that summarize the LSII data on this topic. As discussed on the LSII website, it’s important to put this data into context and review and understand our methodology and the caveats that we’ve identified. That said, the Law Firm Index provides insight into whether and how law firms are innovating, especially when looking at the big picture, and the Catalog of Law Firm Innovations identifies concrete innovations that law firms have implemented.

We should not expect all law firms to look the same. Most would agree that we need greater differentiation across law firms, not copycat “innovation.” While one goal of this project is to define and generate discussion about specific categories of innovation, it is not intended to suggest that these categories make up the universe of innovation or that all law firms should be “innovating” across all categories. Additionally, we are not directly measuring critical aspects of organizational innovation, such as whether a firm has an innovative culture in which everyone from the bottom to top is engaged in innovation and efforts to continuously provide greater value to clients. All of this deserves further discussion.

We searched 260 law firm websites:

  • Am Law 200 – American Lawyer
  • Canadian Top 30 – Lexpert
  • Global 100 – American Lawyer

Note: The firms categorized in our results as “Global 100” include only those firms not already categorized as part of the Am Law 200 or Canadian 30. For this reason, we added an asterisk to “Global 100*” in the Tableau vizzes. Keep this in mind when comparing the Global 100 to other categories of law firms.

Finally, when comparing jurisdictions, consider that we’ve included only the UK firms that made the Global 100 while in the US we’ve included all Am Law 200 law firms. Consider this when comparing averages.

Again, please review the LSII website for necessary context, an overview, and our methodology. With that said, below I have added a few snapshots of the data.

Figure 1: Average Hits per Law Firm Website by Jurisdiction

Figure 1: Average hits per website with Google searches for innovation categories across law firm websites. For context, review overview and methodology at LegalTechIndex.com.
Figure 1: Average hits per website with Google searches for innovation categories across law firm websites. For context, review overview and methodology at LegalTechIndex.com.

 

Figure 2: Average Hits per Law Firm Website by Jurisdiction, Grouped

Figure 2: Average hits per website for innovation Google searches across law firm websites, grouped. Note that Global 100 does not include those Global 100 law firms that are a part of the Am Law 200 or Canadian 30. For context, review overview and methodology at LegalTechIndex.com.
Figure 2: Average hits per website for innovation Google searches across law firm websites, grouped. Note that Global 100 does not include those Global 100 law firms that are a part of the Am Law 200 or Canadian 30. For context, review overview and methodology at LegalTechIndex.com.

Figure 3: Catalog of Law Firm Innovations Grouped by Jurisdiction

Figure 3: Catalog of law firm innovations. A form on the LSII website allows law firms to submit innovations for inclusion in the Catalog. For context, review overview and methodology at LegalTechIndex.com.
Figure 3: Catalog of law firm innovations. A form on the LSII website allows law firms to submit innovations for inclusion in the Catalog. For context, review overview and methodology at LegalTechIndex.com.

I’m thrilled to launch the Legal Services Innovation Index, Phase 1, Version 1.0:

LegalTechInnovation.com

My student research team and I are looking forward to input and discussion, receiving submissions of law firm innovations, and working to improve this resource.

So far, we’ve received a great response:

If you care about improving legal-service delivery and increasing access to legal services, please take a look and share your thoughts:

LegalTechInnovation.com

In his May 2016 keynote at FutureLaw 2016 at Stanford Law School, Jim Sandman, Legal Services Corporation president, suggested that we rank and assess law firms on their use of technology. He argued that this could accelerate the adoption of technology in law firms and might stimulate investment in the development of new technology that could benefit all who need legal services. This was just one of ten excellent suggestions Jim provided for accelerating technology adoption to improve legal services and close the justice gap.

Click this image to see a video of my talk at the 2017 Legal Hackers International Summit.
Click this image to see a video of my talk at the 2017 Legal Hackers International Summit.

One year later, Jim spoke on a panel at FutureLaw 2017 (41:20 to 56:30 in the video) and again suggested that we assess law firms’ technology usage. No one had yet undertaken the effort to systematically assess law firm technology adoption. Right then, I decided to tackle this project.

This last Saturday at the 2017 Legal Hackers International Summit, I provided a preview of Phase 1, Version 1.0 of the Legal Services Innovation Index. A video of my twelve-minute talk is available on YouTube. It was an honor to immediately follow Jim Sandman’s keynote (starting at 8:25 in the video). In addition to previously providing the inspiration for me to begin this work, Jim provided input and support when I discussed the project with him earlier this summer.

In about two weeks, I will launch Phase 1, Version 1.0 of the Legal Services Innovation Index, consisting of:

  1. a catalog of legal-service delivery innovations that have been implemented by law firms, and
  2. measures of law firm innovation for 264 law firms (members of the Global 100, Am Law 200, and Lexpert 30 largest in Canada) based on searches of their websites using Google Advanced Search.

This release is intended to be a “minimum viable product.” I’m following the “Lean Startup,” Plan-Do-Study-Act process for innovation and product development that I’ve suggested for all legal innovators. This release curates available information, contributes additional analysis and information, and uses empirical methods to measure legal innovation. I’ve discussed this project with many in the legal industry and they’ve uniformly encouraged me to complete this initial research, make the information available, solicit input for improving the Index, and continue iterating to improve the Index.

The Index is not intended to be a ranking of law firms–at least not at this time. Like an index at the end of a book, this Index is intended to identify and categorize innovation and direct users to the places where legal-service delivery innovation can be found. After the launch of the Index, law firms will be able to propose innovations for inclusion in the catalog via a website form. As for the searches, this is but one measure of innovation, which–like nearly all measures–has its weaknesses, but nonetheless contributes something to our understanding.

In my talk, I shared more about the purpose of the Index, methodology, weaknesses, and future plans. I will share much more on these topics here, on my blog, when I launch the Legal Services Innovation Index website.

I want to thank the four Michigan State University law students on my research team:

Thank you as well to Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and Carla Swansburg (Director, Practice Innovation, Pricing & Knowledge) for contributing research that we used to seed the catalog of law firm innovations.

Lastly, thank you to LexBlog, which is contributing the development and hosting of the Legal Services Innovation Index website.

Again, I provided additional information about the Index in my talk at the 2017 Legal Hackers International Summit and will provide much more information when I launch the Index website. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please provide them below, tweet at me (@DanLinna), or send me an email at the address in my MSU bio.

August 15, 2017 update: In the original post, I linked to the session video that began with my talk. I’ve changed the links to a recently released excerpt of my talk at the 2017 Legal Hackers International Summit.

“It’s simple. Nice user interface. I like the questionnaire style.”

Comments like these, you assume, refer to an Apple iPhone, Google Search, or some other product hailed for its superior user experience. When is the last time you heard a client make comments like these when discussing a law firm’s legal services?

Okay, maybe you’ve never heard a law firm client make comments like these, particularly when talking about legal services of any complexity. But that is what I heard from a potential client who had just seen a demo of the Akerman Data Law Center, a client-facing expert system that provides data privacy and security advice. Continue Reading Collaborative Disaggregation: Law Firms Can Delight Clients with the Right Technology

Just as other academic units across universities collaborate with industry partners on research and development projects, law schools can do the same. The timing has never been better. Many lawyers have accepted that they need to engage in innovation projects to improve legal-service delivery. At the same time, law schools continue to add experiential courses as required by the ABA and a few have launched legal innovation and technology programs. These developments have produced many opportunities for law schools, practitioners, and experts from other disciplines to work together to improve legal services.

Conducting research and development that leads to legal-service delivery innovations is one of our foundational goals at MSU Law’s LegalRnD. This goal fits well with our other foundational goals: training 21st Century, T-shaped lawyers and engaging with industry partners to identify needs and problems, work toward solutions, and test, improve, and implement solutions. Continue Reading Law Schools as Labs for Legal-Services Innovation and Research & Development: Examples at LegalRnD

When the State Bar of Michigan invited me to write an article about legal technology, I aimed to make it a call to action with a framework and roadmap for legal-services innovation. Many lawyers and legal-services organizations now grasp that they must engage in innovation to improve legal services. But where and how should they begin? That’s what I attempt to address in Leveraging Technology to Improve Legal Services: A Framework for Lawyers, published in the June 2017 Michigan Bar Journal.

My article focuses on a “people, process, technology” framework  for re-engineering legal services, identifying categories of legal-technology competences, and employing “lean thinking,” not only to improve processes, but to create organizations focused on continuous improvement and innovation from the bottom up. My proposed roadmap, however, is less explicit. I plan to develop this further in future posts. For now, I’ll highlight a few key components of the roadmap:

  1. Client Focus – Begin with your clients (the “voice of the customer”). What problems do you solve for clients? Engage with your clients to learn how you can provide greater value to them and work with them to co-create value. Remember, the client defines value.
  2. Lean Thinking – Lean is about more than process mapping and eliminating waste. Lean provides a framework for innovation and empowering everyone in an organization to provide greater value to clients. For an introduction to lean for legal, take a look at the slide deck that Jim Manley and I created for a 2014 presentation (when I was an equity partner at Honigman): Applying Lean Thinking to Legal Services. (Also see Bradley Staats and David M. Upton, Lean Knowledge Work, Harvard Business Review (October 2011)).Plan-Do-Study-Act - https://deming.org/management-system/pdsacycle
  3. Plan, Do, Study, Act – PDSA is the fundamental scientific method as applied for continuous improvement, knowledge creation, and innovation. Lawyers spend the vast majority of their time in “do” mode. Said another way, we lawyers spend our time working “in the business,” but very little time working “on the business.” We spend little time planning to improve legal services and even less time studying how things went after we undertake action to improve. Walter Shewhart from the famed Bell Labs originally developed PDSA, a foundational tool for lean. Many systems for improvement and innovation promoted in books and articles mirror PDSA, with little difference other than terminology. Whatever it may be called, PDSA is an essential element for continuous improvement and innovation. The Deming Institute provides an overview of the PDSA Cycle, including a video by quality-movement leader Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who popularized PDSA. (Some refer to PDSA as Plan, Do, Check, Act, but Deming preferred “study” to emphasize the analysis required, as opposed to a mere “check” of the results following the “do” stage.)The Businesss Model Canvas - strategyzer.com
  4. Business Model Canvas – Use the Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas to quickly capture your legal-service delivery model and communicate it to others. Iterate through various versions of your business model, creating a new canvas for each. This exercise will help you and your colleagues evaluate your value proposition, competitive advantage, and other important elements.

I look forward to further developing these ideas in future posts. If you have any questions or comments about this post or my Michigan Bar Journal article, please comment below, tweet at me (@DanLinna), or send me an email at the address in my MSU bio.

Christy Burke
Christy Burke

Christy Burke recently wrote in Legal IT Today about the small group of law schools that have incorporated legal innovation and technology into their curriculum. In this guest post, Christy highlights law schools embracing opportunities to expand experiential learning opportunities, collaborate with practitioners, and incorporate experiential work into classes.


Law schools are now responsible for providing at least six credit hours of experiential learning for their students, according to the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools 2016-2017. The ABA defines an experiential course as “a simulation course, a law clinic, or a field placement.” Law schools around the country have interpreted this requirement in diverse ways, injecting creativity into their curricula and attracting intrigued students and faculty in the best case scenarios.

Several schools have forged connections with other departments at their own institutions, other law schools, government agencies and courts, law firms, and corporations to go far beyond a “simulation” approach to experiential learning. By allowing law students to work on actual deals, participate in development of technology, and take courses in other areas such as business, engineering and entrepreneurism, these law schools are differentiating themselves from more resistant, steeped-in-tradition institutions. Continue Reading Guest Post: Law Schools and Law Students Both Benefit from Hands-on Experiential Learning Programs