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Lawtomatic Newsletter Issue, #108

By Gabe Teninbaum

My name is Gabe Teninbaum (on Twitter at @GTeninbaum).  I'm a professor, as well as the Assistant Dean for Innovation, Strategic Initiatives, & Distance Education, at Suffolk Law in Boston. I'm also a Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School's Information Society Project.  My work focuses on legal innovation, technology, and the changing business of law. Every day, I digest tons of content on these topics. The goal of this newsletter is to curate the most interesting, valuable, and thought-provoking of these ideas and share them with you. 

If you like reading it, please subscribe. You're also invited to forward this to others who you think would benefit. Likewise, please email mewith feedback, ideas, and tips so I can deliver what's most valuable to you.


The Appetizer: Sponsors

  • Law students: Do you want to get good grades in your classes and pass the bar exam? DO YOU? If you care at all about your future, sign up for This is a tool to help law students & bar preppers learn more using cutting-edge science.  Called the single most effective technique to learn by the American Psychological Association. Named one of the world's Top 20 Legal IT Innovations by ALM.

The Main Course: 5 Things That Made Me Think This Week​

  • Filament's Meeting Design Canvas: is there anything worse than an hour-long meeting that *should be* a 15 minute long phone call (or even better, a quick email exchange)?  Unproductive meetings are my nemesis.  At this year's Clio Con, Filament shared their Meeting Design Canvas, which is a terrific idea that I am 100% going to start using.  Separately, I'm intrigued by how Amazon runs meetings, which is that the host writes a formatted memo laying out various areas for background and discussion, and the first several of the minutes are spent with people silently reading the memo (no prep! Show up and do the prep there!), then wading right into a discussion of the core issues.

  • Despite Budget Cuts, Courts are Investing in Zoom: money is tight, but courts are spending in big ways on technologies to allow for remote hearings. Why does this matter? Because much like the rest of us desk-jockeys, the pandemic has made judges and other court officials realize that doing things remotely can be terrific when you have the right set-up.  It's efficient, pleasant to use, and reduces various expenses and forms of friction (e.g. reduces costs for things like building security and other staff, and also has nice benefits like reducing expenses for court users who no longer will get billed in 6 minute increments for their attorney to drive to court, etc.).  And, given that state governments are ponying up millions to build up remote capacity, it also suggests that on the happy day that the pandemic ends, use of these tools will continue.  That means legal practitioners should plan for a more remote future not just for the immediate months, but for the long-term.

  • Diverse Legal Tech Speakers List: Sarah Glassmeyer recently started a crowdsourced list of legal tech speakers identifying as people of color and/or otherwise from an underrepresented group.  It now has well over 100 names, social media handles, and summaries of the person's area of expertise. As someone who frequently hosts guests in class and conferences, I see a lot of familiar names, and am looking forward to connecting with others.  For those hosting events, talks, or bringing in guests to talk legal tech, this is worth bookmarking.

  • Legal Advice vs. Legal Info: telling the difference between information and advice can be very difficult; and can also be the difference between committing a crime (unlawful practice of law) or unintentionally subjecting oneself to malpractice claims and being a helpful community service.  Here, the National Center for State Courts plays Uno to help people envision the line between the two. Their companion handout (pdf) provides a more detailed analysis of the issues and is a useful resource.

  • #Barpocalypse if you haven't been following the disastrous Summer/Fall 2020 offering of the bar exam, you need to catch up.  In short, it was...not good. This Daily Beast article is emblematic (and suggests something about the scope of the problem if a national outlet like that is reporting on it).  In many ways, the collective failure of examiners to offer a safe, efficient, equitable bar exam is emblematic of larger problems with how the legal system treats its own participants when it fails to put their needs first.

  • The McGurk Effect: I'd heard of optical illusions, but never an auditory illusion. This one is fascinating: Scientists have found that when a tape of someone saying "bahh" is combined with video of a person making an f-sound with their mouth, you will hear it as "fahh."  Close your eyes, and it's back to "bahh."  This isn't a spoiler, because even though you're aware it's an illusion, your brain still can't overcome the visual queue and you'll hear it with an "f" sound so long as you're watching the video.  A side-note is that I learned about the McGurk Effect while doing a google search for the McCullough Effect, which is even stranger.  My wise co-worker, Prof. Sarah Schendel, told me about that one.  In short, for unclear reasons, if you look at two squares made up of alternating lines (one vertical, alternating green/black; the other horizontal, alternating purple/black) for several minutes, it will re-wire how you see color for a long period of time.  Literally, months. I took a pass on trying that one because I am not looking to give myself brain damage...BUT if you aren't sure that the Lawtomatic Newsletter has changed your life, you can try it here and, once it re-wires your brain, you can confidently, and sincerely, tell everyone you know how Lawtomatic has changed the way you see the world.

*** If you enjoy this newsletter and know others who might also like it, please forward it to them.  It's free to subscribe, so the more, the merrier.


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