Friday, July 22, 2016

The (Shared) Week In Review

This Week in Law - AI, Oh My!. If you are interested in where the unevenly distributed future for artificial intelligence exists today, this podcast is a pretty good summary. Andrew Arruda of Ross Intelligence ("Your Brand New Artificially Intelligent Lawyer')  is a guest, as is Joshua Browder, founder of DoNotPay ("The World's First Robot Lawyer").  One of the takeways is a point I have made before: there are almost unlimited possibilities when computers and attorneys work together and leverage their respective strengths.

Kennedy-Mighell Report: The Future of AI in the Practice of Law. See above.  I really like the idea of calling it "Assistive Intelligence," especially to further the idea that computers and people are most effective when they work together.

How E-Signatures Will Make You a High-Tech Professional. Consider modifying your processes to take advantage of the E-Sign Act and the various state UETA laws.

Lawyers Should Take Notes By Hand. Why? Because it helps you process and retain the information you take in, as opposed to merely copying it.  In other words, and as described in the article, instead of transcribing everything you hear, instead you 1) pay attention; and 2) figure out what is important.

Time to Speak Up for the Next Generation. "21% of licensed, employed attorneys qualify as problem drinkers, 28% struggle with some level of depression, and 19% demonstrate symptoms of anxiety." There are a number of ways to de-stigmatize this problem, and it starts with raising awareness.

Keep Growing: What Got You Here, Won't Get You There. "Step back and take the time to look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself, 'How am I developing my skills as a lawyer?'"

What Great Listeners Actually Do. Don't just soak up information, reflect it back with insight and feedback.

12 Mindfulness Hacks You Can Use in 24 Hours. Pick one to start. Any one of these will benefit you. And this piece underscores an important point: mindfulness is not solely about meditation.

And tomorrow morning we head up the road for a family vacation. I will leave you with the view from our deck ....

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Week in Review

Yes, I know about the spacing and the fonts.

Daily Practices for Lives That Are Anything But Routine 

By Mike Ethridge over at Lawyers in Search of Soul.  I have written before about the importance of a number of daily ore regular routines, including  exercise, mindfulness meditation, and expressing gratitude. What morning routine can you cultivate to get fired up for the day?

How to Turn Lawyers into Better Writers 

By  Cari Twitchell  and published on The Lawyerist. For all of the writing we do in the profession, it's hard to step back and assess how well we're doing it and how to improve upon it. Can you accept a little criticism in service of improvement? 

What’s The Future of Work?  

Not a short read, but a thoughtful piece on the different values we assign to different types of work.

The Intangible Law Firm 

By Jordan Furlong. What assets does your firm hold that don't walk out the door when an attorney leaves? 

For all of this talk about "hacking," it makes sense to consider what we are tearing down and our intention in doing so in the first place.

How Technology Disrupted the Truth  

A long read on the consequences for responsible journalism brought about by social media and other forces.

The Improbable Life of James Taylor 

As a native Chapel Hillian, I couldn't help but add this piece about Sweet Baby James. And if you really want your mind blown, listen to his podcast interview with Marc Maron.

And of course, this week would not be complete without a little of the augmented reality craze sweeping the world. I found this little fella in our attorney lounge yesterday ...

Friday, July 8, 2016

What I Have Been Reading and Sharing This Week

Trying to get back in the swing of writing from time to time in this medium. 

Please enjoy what I have been reading and sharing this week. Comment welcome via Twitter or LinkedIn.

Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain via Dan Harris

Mossberg: The tyranny of messaging and notifications via Bob Ambrogi

On Being: Elizabeth Gilbert: Choosing Curiosity Over Fear

I grouped these three together for a reason: I am developing a theory (ok, not my theory but maybe I am adopting it), that distractions (and particularly tech distractions) help kill creativity. 

Broad brush, distractions interrupt boredom (and concentration) and boredom is a necessary state to spark curiosity, which in turn is a predicate to creativity.  I particularly like Elizabeth Gilbert's definition of creativity: choosing curiosity over fear.  And if we are never bored, in no small part because of the dopamine dispensers in our hands .....

When GCs Hire Law Firms Instead of Keeping Legal Work In-House, Legal Productivity

10 things that law firms are saying that kill innovation, by Shaun Temby  via Casey Flaherty

Why Law Firms Should Focus on Adaptation and Not Disruption, by Jordan Furlong

The next three links are some ruminations on law firms.  Obviously figuring out how to get work from in-house lawyers is important for an out-house lawyer like me. And innovating, or adapting to changes in how law is practiced, will continue to be a priority.

Healthy, Happy and Hands-Free (the Economist).

Finally, an article about how the driverless car may change the way we plan and use urban and rural space. Fewer parking garages can't be all bad ....

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Resources for Those Affected by the Flood And for Those Who Want to Help Out

See below for some resources I have pulled together:  Please email me at if you want to add to this list:

Wound care, tetanus evaluation/update, general medical care. 4811 Devereux Rd., Columbia, S.C. 29205. Staffed by volunteer physicians, nurses NP's and paramedics from Palmetto Health and Richland County EMS. Hope to start at or before 3 PM October 8th. 9 AM until 8 PM through Sunday, October 12th.

SCDOT Storm Resources Access to Disaster Help and Resources

SBA Disaster Loan Application

City of Columbia Chamber of Commerce Resources:

Partners Helping Partners - Business In Need

Columbia Chamber Relief Fund

Partners Helping Partners- Donations of Goods and Services

Treatment of Flood-Damaged Older and Historic Buildings

Free Legal Assistance Available for South Carolina Flood Victims

Downtown Church Flood Relief

Central Carolina Community Foundation - SC Flood Relief Fund 

Tax Relief for Victims of Severe Storms and Flooding in South Carolina 

Local Business Offers Free Mattresses to Those in Need

United Way Volunteer Registration for Flood Relief Efforts 

How to Get and Give Help Following Historic Floods

American Red Cross of the Palmetto SC Region

Flood Relief Benefits in the Midlands (Free Times)

Please Help Cameron, Zane and Paul 

Sampson "Twan" Pringle - SC Floods

Wannamaker Family - SC Flood Fund 

Help for Sue Swick

Restoring Laura and Charlie's Home

Flood Relief for Cindy Hubbard

McElveen family flood fund 


Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Celebration of Play

(This is a piece I wrote in connection with my 25th college reunion.  I wanted to put it here so I could link to some of the references mentioned therein).

My undergraduate experience continues to nurture (it is our "alma mater" after all) the parts of me that are the most important. Not enough space here to list them all, but here is the most critical and the one that may sustain many of the others: the ability to play.

To be fair, I certainly arrived in late Summer of 1986 with some innate and learned capabilities for play (or at least playing . . ok, playing around): a working knowledge of a soccer field, a basketball court, various “leisure activities,” and a host of comedy movies. But my undergraduate experience took an unfocused affinity and hard-wired it into me, so much so that what took place during that relatively brief (and getting briefer) 4-year span spawned a quarter century of the same.

Soccer on those Saturday afternoons (you know I like the smell of cut grass) with Scott Levitt, Patrick Brown, Rick Silva and others was just a beginning, and in the years since I have spent many hours playing, coaching, and watching, most recently celebrating Rolf Piranian’s career back in October.

Basketball: the intramural and pickup hoops in the Warner Center, Doremus, and outdoor courts around town presaged future nights at Episcopal High School in Alexandria with Chris Giblin, Wesley Goings, Russell Wilkerson, Fred Shannon, Lynwood Mallard and others, law school and attorney leagues, and shoot-arounds with my children.

Even the P.E. courses were extraordinary and memorable. Harlan Winn and I experienced “Aerobic Running” with “Stormin’ Norman” Lord, and I don’t think any subsequent physical challenge was any more difficult than some of those runs. But we did it together.

Russell Wilkerson and I took softball with the legendary Joe Lyles, (where we “paired off in threes” and “lined up in a circle). I must’ve used those phrases and others a thousand times over the years. And years later, (as Clint Robinson knows), there is something indescribable about throwing the baseball for the first time in the Spring.

As significant as the organized events were the invented, improvised, and impromptu contests and collaborative efforts-  Quad Lacrosse, Bounce, Bridge Tennis, Bike Polo, Ultimate Frisbee, and hacky-sacking on every patch of grass in Rockbridge County- sprung up again in various forms over the years, notably when Thomas Sheehan and I hacked at Loveland Pass.

Play extended far beyond the fields and courts and into our living space as well. Hobe’s Place was a veritable playground. My undefeated record on the ping-pong table still ranks as one of my greatest athletic feats.

The Fort we built in Chris Pennewill’s room drew a line in the sand for play: Either you understood it, or you didn’t. That metaphor continues to apply in numerous contexts.

The music played during those years has never stopped. What started at the Pavilion, Zollman’s and other venues (behind the Phi Kap House in particular)- offering up Little Feat, Charlie Daniels, Indecision, Widespread Panic, Liquid Pleasure, the Truly Dangerous Swamp Band, and at least five of the better versions of “Whipping Post” I ever heard-- transitioned seamlessly to the Blue Dogs, The Allmans, the Grateful Dead, Phish, and others.

Eventually some of Michael Higginbotham and Tiny Purple Fishes must have rubbed off on me, (and it only took 15 years) and now I have the great fortune to jam with the Bomber Invitational House Band on occasion.

(At this point you (or I) might point out that this play was surely not unique to our college experience.  After all, we were scarcely the only college kids coming up with things to do outside the classroom.  True.  But something about Lexington and W&L created a safe and welcoming environment for those experiences that was truly unique).

All of those shared experiences--and the laughs, community, and connection they sparked and fostered-- have been a common thread ever since. And not just a thread, but a lifeline and a source. As is always the case with the really meaningful stuff, the true significance of play (and its role in my “education”) was not apparent during those salad days, but revealed its real value as life began to unfold.

It was apparent that as a Freshman I could crack a joke and get a laugh (See “They Call Me the Cruiser” speech, Fall of 1986). Making Trey Haydon laugh, and laughing with him, is without question one of the best feelings, and still feels as good as it did in the mid-80s. But back then I sought to create laughter to overcome what I recall as crippling insecurity and a staggering lack of confidence.

I had no idea back then why a fully developed sense of humor was so essential for navigating life’s real slings and arrows. I now know. It is absolutely true that sometimes there is nothing left to do but smile, smile,smile—and laugh at yourself- in service of forgiving (yourself and others) over and over again.

When we were in Lexington, we took for granted that we were there for each other because we really were- in no small part because of the sheer amount of time we spent together. And when we needed to lean on one another, it was usually because we were literally about to fall down. Over time, as we began to realize that we were only immortal for a limited time, so too came the understanding of why friendship is such an inestimable blessing. Play was the bond, the glue, and the ease that set those relationships in stone.  As The Bard wrote, “those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried; grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.”  Done and done.

I have had amazing experiences and countless successes over the last 25 years.  I have also lost people and relationships that are irreplaceable, and wrestle with doubt, guilt, regret and many other demons daily (all in a First-World way, mind you. I agree with Jason Isbell that I have it more than “Relatively Easy”). 

And while Lexington has always been a place to celebrate, it has been equally welcoming for grieving, a safe place to fall apart, and fertile ground for rebirth and renewal.

Fortunately, whether I am flying low or high, W&L made sure that come what may I would keep playing. And paradoxically (aren’t all essential things paradoxical?), the nonsense of play, in Lexington, Atlanta, Pensacola, Alexandria, Transylvania County, Columbia, Jackson Hole, and countless other locales, is often the only way I make sense of things.

The ability to play gives me fresh eyes to know the world, and washes away the cynical, the tired, the mundane and banal, and the constant drumbeat of the haters. And for me that is most crucial, because if left to my own devices sometimes I am one of those haters. When you spend a lot of time in your head like I do, it is very easy to establish and maintain a separateness.

Playing works instead in the heart, and connects me back to what is truly timeless: the love, joy and magic created when people who love each other do the things they love together. When I play, it is neither 1986 nor 2015, and the experience is the same as it ever was. Chronos shifts to Kairos, and I get just a fleeting glimpse of the eternal.

And for that I am most grateful.

I look forward to playing with all of you in Lexington--

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Podcasts for Lawyers

I have written previously about the benefits of podcasts: interesting, relevant, and timely content pushed directly to your device (so you don't have to go looking for it) that you can enjoy whenever you want.  What's not to like? And if you want a tutorial on how to get and use podcasts, read this article I found while putting this post together. And further, if you are interested in starting your own podcast, take a look at this piece.

Here are the legal podcasts on my device right now (with summaries largely based on their own descriptions), in alphabetical order so I don't have to rank them:

  1. Amicus With Dalia Lithwick. Lithwick writes about courts and the law for State, and Amicus is all about the United States Supreme Court. Great resource for following the goings-on at SCOTUS.
  2. Digital Edge. Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway discuss topics related to lawyers and technology. Sponsored by the Law Practice Management Section of the ABA.
  3. Kennedy-Mighell Report. Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell educate lawyers on how technology can be used to improve services, interactions with clients, and overall workflow.
  4. Lawyer 2 Lawyer. Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams address current issues from a legal perspective. 
  5. Lawyerist.  A weekly show about lawyering and law practice hosted by Sam Glover and Aaron Street. Glover and Street interview successful lawyers and interesting people about law practice, and answer questions from the Lawyerist community. Great interviews with interesting people in the legal community.
  6. Legal Toolkit.  A really good law practice management resource. Heidi Alexander and Jared Correia invite forward-thinking lawyers to discuss the services, ideas, and programs that have improved their practices.
  7. Oral Argument. A podcast about law, law school, and legal theory. Joe Miller and Christian Turner, law professors at the University of Georgia, do some really in-depth analysis of cases and legal issues.  A must-listen for those (including myself) interested in the laws of airline seat reclining and speed traps.
  8. This Week in Law. Denise Howell discusses breaking issues in technology law, including patents, copyrights, privacy, drones, driverless cars, the Internet of Things, and many other topics. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Five Posts You Viewed Most in 2013

  1. Five Must-Reads for Graduates (and Everyone Else).  Thanks to Jay Bilas for retweeting this piece and with one click making it the most popular post of the year by far.
  2. Computer and KM Stuff Good Lawyers Should Know (First Draft).  It is about time to do a second draft.  Did any of you catch the Dick DiVenzio reference in the title of the post?
  3. Every Lawyer is a Technologist: Take a Step Back to Take the First Step Forward. People, Processes, and Computer Technology are the tools you use.
  4. Some Thoughts on "Email: The Reality in Law in 2013". My discussion with Christian Stegmaier
  5. Smarter Than You Think and its Lessons for the Legal Profession. A really important read for lawyers trying to figure out how to work with computers.