LawNext is a weekly podcast hosted by Bob Ambrogi, publisher of LawSites. Each week, Bob interviews the innovators and entrepreneurs who are driving what’s next in the legal industry. From legal technology startups to new law firm business models to enhancing access to justice, Bob and his guests explore the future of law and legal practice. Subscribe to receive future episodes at iTunes, LibSyn, or using your favorite podcast player.

For some two decades, Mark Chandler has been a leading voice for innovation and technology in the operation of legal departments and the delivery of legal services. Executive vice president and chief legal officer at technology giant Cisco, he has been the company’s top lawyer since 2001 and a member of its legal department since 1996, when Cisco acquired Stratacom, where he had been general counsel.

In 2010, The National Law Journal named Chandler one of the 40 most influential lawyers of the decade, and in 2013, American Lawyer numbered him among the Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years. In 2017, the Forum on Legal Evolution honored Chandler with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, writing that he “has been at the forefront of legal department innovation and thought leadership, challenging the industry to consider new and better ways to serve internal and external clients.”

Chandler joins me to talk about innovation at Cisco, whose legal department is often cited as a model for others, as well as in legal departments generally and in the delivery of legal services. Other topics they discuss include privacy, the rise of legal operations, alternative legal services providers, and current technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.

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We thought 2018 was a banner year for investment in legal technology companies. But then, less than two weeks into 2019, the year got off to a roaring start with news of a $200 million strategic investment in Onit, a Houston company that provides enterprise workflow products for legal management, contract management and business process automation.

To discuss one of the largest investments ever in a legal technology company, cofounder and CEO Eric M. Elfman is our guest this week on LawNext. Elfman cofounded Onit nine years ago, together with Eric Smith, now Onit’s chief technology officer. The two had previously founded DataCert, a provider of matter management and legal and IP spend management for corporate legal departments that was eventually acquired by Wolters Kluwer.

A self-described serial entrepreneur, Elfman and host Bob Ambrogi discuss why he created the company and how its products, after some early pivots, matured to where they are today. He also discusses the investment by K1 Investment Management, a Los Angeles private equity firm that specializes in investments in high-growth enterprise software companies. In addition, Elfman talks about how the legal industry and legal technology have changed over the course of his career.

This episode was recorded live at the Legalweek conference in New York City on Jan. 30, 2019.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Mark A. Cohen has long been ahead of the curve. After 25 years as an accomplished trial lawyer, he founded one of the first legal process outsourcing companies and then cofounded Clearspire, the groundbreaking two-company law firm and service provider that became the blueprint for a new generation of innovative legal services providers.

Now, Cohen puts his experience to work as a legal business consultant, providing services and training to law firms, legal departments and other organizations through his consulting firm LegalMosaic. He is also a widely read thought leader for his column at Forbes, where he writes about the business of law, now and into the future.

Cohen is also Distinguished Fellow at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and was recently appointed by the Singapore Academy of Law to serve as its inaugural LIFTED Catalyst-in-Residence.

On this episode of LawNext, Cohen joins host Bob Ambrogi to talk about a range of topics. They discuss Clearspire and the lessons Cohen learned from that. They also talk about what Cohen sees as the “skills gap” in law and why it is that law schools and law firms are failing to address it. In the fact of a rapidly changing global legal economy, Cohen offers insights on how law firms should adapt.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.

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What do you get if you combine a virtual receptionist service with artificial intelligence? Spoiler alert: The answer is not robots answering the phone. Rather, the folks at Smith.ai say the combination results in a superior receptionist service for both live calls and website chat. By incorporating AI, they say, their service continually gets smarter as it comes to know your practice and your clients.

On this episode of LawNext, I speak with Smith.ai’s Justin Maxwell, cofounder and chief design officer, and Maddy Martin, head of growth and education. Among the topics we discuss are the features that distinguish Smith.ai from its competitors, the types of law practices that are a good fit for a service such as this, and key questions a lawyer should ask when selecting a virtual receptionist service.

  • Justin Maxwell, cofounder and chief design officer. Before founding Smith.ai, Maxwell was a design lead in Google’s Android group. He has designed products and led teams for Google, Apple, Mint (Intuit), Sony, and a number of startups.
  • Maddy Martin, head of growth and education. Martin has held roles in marketing, content management and audience development at a number of Silicon Valley technology companies. Most recently, she was general manager, content and community, and director of marketing at YourMechanic.com.

Special discount code: During the episode, Martin announced a special discount code that entitles you to $50 off your first month of live receptionist services (phone or web chat). The code is lawnext50.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.


With Judicata, Itai Gurari believes he has built a better legal research platform. A lawyer and computer scientist, his approach to designing a legal research engine was to first “map the legal genome” — that is, map the law with extreme accuracy and granularity. The result is a research engine that returns the best results the fastest, he says.

Gurari and his company also built Clerk, a tool that analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of legal briefs — like moneyball for motions, he says. “Just as different batters have different on-base percentages, different motions have different probabilities of being granted or denied,” Gurari explains.

Judicata LogoAfter a stint as an associate at Jones Day a decade ago, Gurari started his first legal research company, TraceLaw.com. When that closed in 2010, he joined Google as a software engineer working on Google Scholar. In 2011, he left Google to start Judicata. With $8 million in financing from some big-name investors, including PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel and Box founders Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith, Judicata was released to the public in May 2017.

In this episode of LawNext, Gurari speaks with me about his thoughts on legal research, artificial intelligence, and what his tool Clerk has revealed about the quality of legal briefs.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.

Our guest this week on LawNext is Daniel B. Rodriguez, who recently stepped down as dean of Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, where he gained wide recognition for his work to innovate legal education, and recently stepped up to become chair of the governing council of the ABA Center for Innovation, which focuses on improving the affordability, effectiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of legal services.

Rodriguez was dean at Northwestern Law from 2012-2018 and now serves on the school’s faculty as Harold Washington professor of law. Before joining Northwestern, Rodriguez was Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas-Austin; a research fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; dean and Warren Distinguished professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law; and professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Widely recognized as a thought leader on innovation in law and legal education, Rodriguez was the 2014 president of the Association of American Law Schools and was a member of the 2014-2016 ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services. He is currently a visiting professor at Stanford Law School and, in the spring semester of 2019, will be a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.

In a wide-ranging interview, Rodriguez talks about the meaning of innovation in law and at law schools and the obstacles to achieving innovation.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.

In major legal industry news, global law company Elevate announced its acquisition of the legal AI technology and consulting firm LexPredict. The move combines the comprehensive legal services offering of Elevate with the data science team and AI engine of LexPredict.

With the combination of Elevate’s alternative services model and LexPredict’s cutting-edge technology, does this acquisition foreshadow the future of legal practice?

In this episode of LawNext, we take a deep dive into the acquisition and what it means for the legal industry. Joining me are two of the deal’s principles:

  • Pratik Patel, vice president of innovation at Elevate. Patel oined Elevate as part of the acquisition of RFx LEGAL Analytics in 2012, prior to which he served as a founding member and partner at RFx LEGAL. Earlier, he was a senior managing consultant at Huron Legal, where he played a key role in the rapid growth of Huron’s Legal consulting practice.
  • Daniel Martin Katz, cofounder and chief strategy officer of LexPredict, as well as professor of law at Chicago Kent College of Law and director of Chicago Kent’s Law Lab, a research center focused on legal innovation and technology. Katz has been named to the Fastcase 50, which “recognizes 50 of the smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law.”  He was also named to the ABA Journal’s “Legal Rebels,” a prestigious group of change leaders in the legal profession.

Patel and Katz describe what each of their companies brings to the table, how the two companies align, and why they believe the sum of the two makes both companies even greater.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.

Is the traditional form of contracting broken? Are static legal agreements irrelevant in a fast-moving global economy? Casey Kuhlman, CEO of the blockchain and smart contracts company Monax, believes we’re on the brink of a paradigm shift in how we form and execute legal agreements.

Kuhlman and Monax are the principal forces behind the launch of the Agreements Network, which he describes as the “legal layer for a networked world.” The Agreements Network provides a base blockchain layer and other tools to serve as an ecosystem to create, distribute, and operate legal agreements.

Kuhlman envisions that lawyers will be able to generate new revenue by converting agreements they’ve created into products that can be sold through these networks. These “archetypes,” as Kuhlman calls them, would combine legal text with smart-contract workflows to allow commercial clients to create their own active agreements.

Now based in Scotland, Kuhlman is a U.S.-trained lawyer who went to work in Somaliland in eastern Africa and started a law firm there. His work representing companies in transactional matters helped convince him that there had to be a better way to manage agreements. That led him to launch Monax and the Agreements Network.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.

In this special bonus episode of LawNext, listen to a panel discussion on savvy podcasting for lawyers.

Recently, at the 2018 Northeast Regional Conference of the Legal Marketing Association, I participated on a panel of legal marketing and media experts to discuss podcasting for lawyers and law firms. The panelists shared their tips and experiences on starting, producing and promoting legal podcasts.

The panel was moderated by Susan Peters, president of Greybridge PR in New York. In addition to me, the other panelists were Angela Robinson, marketing communications manager at the law firm Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner in Washington, D.C., and Michael Meyer, a New York photographer who specializes in corporate and legal marketing and who has his own podcast, the Legal Marketing Studio.

A special thanks to Michael Meyer for recording the panel and making it available to LawNext.

In the latest episode of LawNext, we take you live to Russia, where I interview two of the leading experts on Russian legal technology to get their insights and perspectives on the state of innovation and development there. What they say may surprise you.

I recently visited Moscow as the keynote speaker at the Skolkovo LegalTech conference. (I recounted the visit in a post at Above the Law.) While there, I recorded these two interviews on the state of the legal tech industry in Russia:

Holger Zscheyge, managing director of the publishing company Infotropic Media and organizer of his own legal tech conference, Moscow Legal Tech. Zscheyge is widely regarded as the leading authority on legal technology in Russia.

Anton Pronin, organizer of the Skolkovo LegalTech conference and legaltech director of the Skolkovo Innovation Center, where he helps incubate and advise legal technology startups.

Zscheyge and Pronin describe an industry undergoing significant change. In Russia, the legal tech startup scene has quickly become more robust over the last two years. But law firms and courts have been slow to adopt new technologies. Both guests suggest that may now be starting to change.

Listen above, on Apple Podcasts, or via your favorite podcast player. To never miss an episode, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or via RSS, or like us on Facebook. And if you like what you hear, say something nice in Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us reach more listeners.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.