“Our law firm has a policy forbidding our lawyers to use generative artificial intelligence to produce legal products such as briefs, motion arguments, and researched opinions.”

— From a partner at Carlton Fields.

Rather than requiring carpenters to use only manual saws, wouldn’t it make more sense to teach them to use power tools safely?

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Back in the day smart law librarians like Genie Tyburski, Cindy Chick and Sabrina I. Pacifici were busy teaching lawyers how to evaluate the reliability of information found via the internet. Something tells me there may be a need for similar training today.

Catherine Reach‘s article on modern note-taking is the most useful thing I have read this year. Check it out & see if you feel the same.

Unfortunately it’s a little late for me to get maximum benefit. If I’d read an article like Catherine’s 20 years ago and followed her advice, I not as much money would have slipped through my fingers due to disorganization & memory lapse. Would my net worth be about twice as much as it is today? Probably more.

Here’s a link to an episode of the estimable Dennis Kennedy / Tom Mighell that has related tips:

The “Second Brain” ideas they have discussed over multiple episodes is a more elaborate development of similar ideas.

 My review of Renee Knake Jefferson’s fine new book, Law Democratized: A Blueprint for Solving the Justice Crisis is available at LLRX.com. The bottom line?

Unequal access to justice is, and must be, a national priority. This is the best assessment I have seen of where the country is and where we must go. Lawyers, judges, legislators, bar officials, and anyone interested in making our civil justice system fairer and more effective will find this book essential.

 It’s available from the NYU Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Vanderbilt Law School Professor Cat Moon sees it quite clearly: [T]he very [law] firm structure repels innovation (and modernization).”

Yep. Some people are innovating. Just don’t expect to see much out of large law firms. What does happen won’t happen fast.

The curve will be pretty much what we saw decades ago with the Internet. Rick Klau & Erik J. Heels documented large firm adoption of the Internet is their 1998 book Law Law Law on the Internet. Most big firms attempted to create the impression they were Internet innovators, and some grabbed domain names early on. Actual adoption was slow, especially with regard to big value-adds like intranets.

Greg Siskind, Visalaw.com Founder

The most effective innovators were smaller firms, like Greg Siskind‘s Visalaw.com.

Chris Fortier
Chris Fortier

The American Bar Association website has a nice interview with Chris Fortier, author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Office Automation. His journey from in-house power user to nationally known expert qualifies him to address this topic:

When I started working with young lawyers in my state, I saw that the membership involvement form was not friendly to getting people into the organization quickly. You had to download/print, fill out the form, save it, and then email or mail the paper form. Not efficient. So I turned the form into a Google Form and we ended up getting more people expressing interest in getting involved with our organization.  Everything went in an automation direction for me. 

In Chris’s view, the most important takeaway from the book is that “[Yo]u can automate a process. You, your staff, and your clients can handle it. If you know your firm, how it operates, and where you want to take your firm in the future, you can automate your firm to better serve your clients.”

It’s a pretty ambitious goal, but my impression from reading it is that he comes remarkably close to achieving it. Lots to like so far, including his emphasis on spreadsheets and using the tools you already. More than a few lawyers are likely to find his his tips on making email more efficient to more than repay the price of the book. My review will be finished soon. Can’t wait to own your copy? Check out Amazon.com.

Is anyone in the country better qualified than Renee Knake Jefferson to write about access to justice? Professor of Law at the University of Houston, co-reporter for the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, and designated by the American Bar Association as a “Legal Rebel,” she has long been a thought leader in the quest to make legal help available to all, regardless of resources. Her new book, Law Democratized: A Blueprint for Solving the Justice Crisis, does not disappoint.

My detailed review will appear soon. In the meantime I noted that this book is available from NYU Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Reciting credentials is a tried and true method of building credibility. Prestigious school? Law review? Judicial clerkship? Your clients include Microsoft, Tesla and Google? By all means, recite every credential that might impress a potential client (or convince your current clients how lucky they are to have you in their employ).

Credential-flaunting can help, but there are more effective ways to promote your practice. Rather than say you know what you are talking about, prove it. Publishing a book or articles in journals your desired clients read is one of the best ways.

Over the next few weeks we’ll examine techniques that can help lawyers (and other ambitious people) to profit by publishing. One method is to start your planning at the end. What are the best publishers for you and your work product? Here ar a couple of ways to identify the potential publishers likely to provide the most benefit:

Check Google Authority Scores (for online publications).

Google uses “authority scores” to measure a website’s importance. Conrad Saam’s book has a good explanation of this. Here is a simplified version: T more important a website, the higher its authority score. Articles published in sites with high authority scores will get more exposure (due to better SEO, or Search Engine Optimization). Authority scores are computed by a number of factors. The details of Google’s algorithm are a trade secret, but it’s well known that a key factor, probably the most important factor, is the number and quality of other sites linking to the one being measured. Google used to call this score “Page Rank.” They dropped the name years ago, but still use the same concept.

The Moz Link Explorer is one way to measure site authority.

Use ChatGPT

Last year the hot topic was the “metaverse.” In his annual summary of 2023 key legal tech developments, the esteemed Dennis Kennedy admitted that early in 2023 it was his top priority for the year. He also stated that his top priority for 2024 would be AI.

The future of the metaverse is uncertain. One thing is certain: AI is all the rage, and for a good reason: If used intelligently it can provide giant benefits. Here’s one example, the prompt I gave ChatGPT 3.5 and its response. (I subscribe to version 4.0 but reserve my quota of queries for the more difficult questions):

PROMPT: Which publishers would like an article on negotiations?

Chat GPT Respsonse: If you’re looking to publish an article on negotiations, there are several publishers that specialize in business, professional development, and leadership content, which may be interested in your submission. Here are some publishers and platforms where you might consider submitting your article on negotiations:

  1. Harvard Business Review (HBR): HBR publishes articles on a wide range of business topics, including negotiation strategies and techniques. They accept submissions for their print magazine as well as their online platform.
  1. Forbes: Forbes is a well-known business publication that accepts contributed articles from subject matter experts. They often feature articles on negotiation skills, leadership, and business communication.
  2. Inc. Magazine: Inc. Magazine publishes articles aimed at entrepreneurs and small business owners. They frequently cover topics related to negotiation tactics, deal-making, and business communication.
  3. Entrepreneur: Entrepreneur magazine focuses on topics relevant to startup founders, business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs. They may be interested in articles that offer practical advice and insights on negotiation strategies.
  4. Fast Company: Fast Company covers innovation, leadership, and business trends. They accept contributed articles from experts in various fields, including negotiation and conflict resolution.
  5. LinkedIn Publishing: LinkedIn’s publishing platform allows users to publish articles and posts on professional topics. Writing and sharing an article on negotiations can help you reach a wide audience of professionals and business leaders on the platform.
  6. Medium: Medium is a popular platform for publishing articles and essays on a wide range of topics. You can publish your article on negotiations as a standalone piece or contribute to relevant publications and collections on the platform.
  7. Training Industry: Training Industry publishes articles, research, and insights on training and development topics, including negotiation skills training. They accept submissions from industry professionals and thought leaders.
  8. Negotiation Journal: If your article is more academic or research-based, you might consider submitting it to Negotiation Journal, a peer-reviewed publication focused on the theory and practice of negotiation and dispute resolution.
  9. Professional Associations: Consider submitting your article to professional associations related to your industry or field of expertise. Many associations publish newsletters, journals, and online content for their members and may be interested in articles on negotiation skills and strategies.

Could I do a better job than ChatGPT? Maybe. If I were willing to spend a lot of time doing so. Maybe.

Before submitting your article, be sure to review the submission guidelines and editorial requirements of each publisher or platform. Tailor your pitch or submission to fit the audience and tone of the publication, and highlight the unique insights or perspectives your article offers on negotiations.

John Tredennick and Bill Webber would never publish a book entitled “AI For Dummies,” so best to consider their new article “AI For Beginners.” Whatever you call it, GenAI for Smart People: An Introduction to Large Language Models for Smart Legal Professionals is an excellent “entry-level” intoduction to key AI concepts:

The most entertaining parts are the AI-generaged “Brain In A Jar” graphic above and the Executive Summary generated by ChatGPT 4.0:

Executive Summary*

“GenAI for Smart People,” authored by John Tredennick and Dr. William Webber, serves as an essential guide for legal professionals navigating the integration of Generative AI (GenAI) into ediscovery workflows. The article breaks down complex concepts into digestible insights, offering a forward-looking perspective on the technology’s transformative impact.

Introduction to GenAI: The guide introduces GenAI, emphasizing its pivotal role in enhancing legal practices. It sheds light on how GenAI, particularly through Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT, has become central to discussions in the legal field, promising to streamline processes and improve efficiency.

Role of LLMs: The authors elaborate on LLMs’ functionality, focusing on their ability to process and generate text based on extensive training. This section underscores the computational prowess and the intricate technology driving these models, highlighting their significance in text-based applications.

Training and Operational Mechanics: The paper details the rigorous training LLMs undergo, including reinforcement learning and the implications of a fixed knowledge base post-training cutoff. It brings attention to the models’ limitations and the ongoing debate around their ability to truly “understand” content versus merely replicating it.

Application in eDiscovery:

  • The authors demonstrate LLMs’ capability to revolutionize document review, analysis, and transcript review by rapidly identifying relevant information, significantly cutting down the time and resources required for these tasks.
  • Through practical examples, the article showcases how GenAI can offer immediate positive effects on discovery practices, despite the architectural limits of current models.

Data Security: Addressing concerns around data privacy and the protection of attorney-client privileges, the guide reassures readers about the robust security measures and contractual safeguards in place with commercial LLM providers.

Impact and Future Outlook: The conclusion reiterates GenAI’s revolutionary potential in legal workflows and its capacity to make existing processes more efficient. The authors express enthusiasm for the future, envisioning a legal practice landscape redefined by the adoption of advanced AI tools.

*The above summary was prepared by GPT 4.0 Turbo (128K) based on the contents of our article.

Hypertext links in blogs and other online publications articles build credibility with readers. I’ve written primarily for online publications for years. It’s second nature to me to turn relevant words or phrases into hypertext links, so the inability to do this on LinkedIn (and Facebook) has been a long-time annoyance.

Richard Tromans is a respected British legal innovator who operated the Artificial Lawyer website.

His recent LinkedIn post provides a great example of how to make your LinkedIn posts more credible as well as more helpful to readers. He adds the URLs to sources in a section at the end.
Richard’s method is not as elegant as turning the relevant words into a hypertext link, but there’s a lot to be said for making your posts more credible by “showing the receipts.” Here’s how Richard handles it:

Transformative Negotiation Book Cover

As an instructor at a prestigious negotiation program I like correctly observed, many, maybe most books on negotiations are little more than collections of war stories or Machiavellian tricks.

Sarah Federman’s new book Transformative Negotiations is light on dirty tricks but provides a sometimes head-spinning large collection of characters, anecdotes, tips, and examples.

It sets itself two ambitious goals:

  • Taking the subject of negotiation out of the boardroom and into the lives of ordinary people.
  • Using negotiation approaches in a way that will help society through win-win-win approaches.

It goes a long way toward achieving these ambitious goals. Those looking for new and thoughtful approaches to negotiation, as well as its goal of advancing social justice, will find it invaluable.

There are many things to like about Transformative Negotiation, not the least of which is that the author avoids common problems with contemporary academic writing:

1. She writes passionately and persuasively about the importance of supporting disadvantaged groups while avoiding coming across as “woke” in the way so many find gratingly condescending on today’s university campuses.

2. She speaks clearly, eschewing turgid prose and impenetrable scholar-speak. For example, rather than engaging in Foucaultian analysis of the dynamics of power, she suggests two simple tests to identify the most powerful in an organization:

  • a. Who can express anger without negative consequences?
  • b. Who, if they did the same thing, would be dismissed or reprimanded?

Gotta love any professor who can write so clearly and persuasively.