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.


It was big news earlier this month when practice management company Clio announced that it had acquired Lexicata, the first cloud-based CRM and client-intake platform for lawyers. It was the first acquisition by 10-year-old Clio, which says it will continue to operate Lexicata but will also develop its technology into a new, more advanced client-engagement platform, Clio Grow.

Lexicata CEO Michael Chasin and law school classmate Aaron George founded the company in 2014, after previously founding LawKick, a marketplace for connecting clients with lawyers. A 2013 graduate of Loyola Law School, Chasin also received a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount University.

In this episode of LawNext, I sat down with Chasin during the recent Clio Cloud Conference, shortly after the acquisition was announced. We discussed the history of Lexicata, the reasons for the acquisition, the future of the product, and what it all means for the legal industry at large.

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.

Excuse this commercial interruption, but I wanted to acknowledge and extend a huge thank you to MyCase, the practice management company, for becoming the first sponsor of my recently launched podcast LawNext.

Starting LawNext was somewhat of an experiment for me. As I explained in a recent post, I had been podcasting for 13 years as cohost of Lawyer2Lawyer on the Legal Talk Network. But I wanted to try something different — to be more hands on, to be more nimble, and to own what I was doing. And, frankly, I wanted to see if I could make a little money at it.

No sooner had I released the first episode in July than I heard from MyCase about the potential of becoming a sponsor. A few phone calls and emails later, it was official. Starting with Episode 13 posted earlier this week, you’ll hear some “words from our sponsor” during the show (plus an offer for a free trial).

By the way, we have other slots for advertisers and sponsors. If you’re interested, shoot us an email at info@lawnext.com, or email me directly at ambrogi@gmail.com.

At just 17 years old, Joshua Browder made international news when he created DoNotPay, a chatbot that helped appeal parking tickets, reportedly saving motorists in the U.S. and UK some $16 million. Now 21, he has just released a series of apps designed to help consumers solve common legal problems without the help of a lawyer — including one to file small claims lawsuits in any U.S. jurisdiction.

In this episode of LawNext, I caught up with Browder during the recent Clio Cloud Conference, we discussed the genesis of DoNotPay, the latest round of apps, and Browder’s dream of enabling robots and technology to help people with most of their common legal problems.

“If you’re a normal person who’s not accused of murder, who doesn’t need to be in the Supreme Court, I don’t want you to even have to interact with a lawyer,” Browder says. “ … There’s no reason why, if your landlord keeps your security deposit, it should be so complicated to get justice. So everything that a consumer would want from the legal system, I want to provide for free.”

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


Kevin O’Keefe believes that lawyers get their best work from relationships and a strong word-of-mouth reputation, and that blogging is the perfect way to build relationships and reputation. In 2003, he founded LexBlog, a company devoted to helping lawyers and law firms launch their own blogs. Today, LexBlog has grown to a network of nearly 20,000 legal professionals worldwide blogging on the platform.

More recently, LexBlog launched a global legal news and commentary network based on legal blogs. The network is open to any legal blog, without cost and regardless of whether the blog is a LexBlog customer. And just last week, LexBlog announced a national campaign to help bridge the legal services gap by enabling lawyers to connect with consumers in real and authentic ways through blogs.

In this episode of LawNext, I talk with O’Keefe about LexBlog, blogging, and the important of building trust and relationships for lawyers to connect with clients.

Full disclosure: Since January, I’ve worked with LexBlog as publisher and editor-in-chief. 

Before founding LexBlog, O’Keefe was a trial lawyer in Wisconsin for 17 years. In 1998, he founded a virtual law community, PrairieLaw.com. After selling PrairieLaw to LexisNexis in 2001, he became vice president of business development for its Martindale-Hubbell division. He is a graduate of University of the Pacific — McGeorge School of Law and the University of Notre Dame.

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.


What if a lawyer could know how a judge is likely to rule in a case or how heavy is a judge’s workload? Rick Merrill was a litigator at a large law firm who became frustrated over his inability to get meaningful information about the judges before whom he appeared. So last year, he launched Gavelytics, a California company that uses analytics and artificial intelligence to analyze docket data and provide lawyers with a range of insights about judges’ propensities, workloads and leanings.

In this episode of LawNext, I visited Gavelytics’ office in Santa Monica, where I sat down with Merrill, now the company’s CEO, and Justin Brownstone, VP of sales and litigation counsel, to talk about the product one year after its launch, how lawyers use analytics for strategic and competitive purposes, and how analytics and AI are being used more broadly in law.

Before founding Gavelytics, Merrill was a litigator with the law firm Greenberg Traurig in Los Angeles, involved primarily in real estate and other commercial disputes. He received his law degree from UCLA School of Law, completed the executive program at the UCLA Anderson School of Business, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California.

Brownstone is also a former litigator with several Los Angeles firms. He is also a graduate of UCLA School of Law, where he was a managing editor of the law review. He earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.

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.

Earlier this year, Mark Britton left Avvo, the often-controversial company he founded in 2006 and led as CEO, after selling it to web behemoth Internet Brands. Explaining his departure in a memo to his staff, he wrote, “It’s time for me to go.”

In the latest episode of LawNext, Britton reflects on his 12 years at Avvo. In a face-to-face interview I conducted with him last week in his home base of Seattle, Britton recounts why he started the company, discusses why he sold it to Internet Brands, and explains why he left. He talks about what he believes his company achieved and what he achieved as CEO. He reveals his greatest disappointment and his frustration with Avvo’s ongoing battles with the organized bar. He also offers his advice to budding entrepreneurs.

Before founding Seattle-based Avvo, Britton was senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Expedia after it spun off from Microsoft. Earlier, he was an attorney with Preston, Gates & Ellis in Seattle and senior counsel with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He is a 1992 graduate of The George Washington University Law School and a 1989 graduate of Gonzaga University.

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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In July, Thomson Reuters unveiled Westlaw Edge, the next generation of its legal research platform that uses artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to help legal professionals find answers and perform research more efficiently. The engineering of the AI that went into that was spearheaded by Dr. Khalid Al-Kofahi, vice president of research and development at Thomson Reuters and head of the company’s Center for Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing in Toronto.

In the latest episode of LawNext, Al-Kofahi joins me to debunk some of the myths around AI in law and to discuss why building AI is harder than many lawyers realize. He says that three keys to the quality of an AI product are quality of the editorial inputs used to train the system, quality of the data that underlies the system, and subject-matter expertise by the team building the system.

A 20-year veteran of Thomson Reuters, Al-Kofahi has led the development of many advanced technologies that power products across Thomson Reuters, including natural language processing applications to mine information from text, large-scale text classification, recommender systems, vertical search, named entity extraction and resolution, question answering, language generation and summarization.

Al-Kofahi has a doctorate in computer engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master’s degree in computer engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology in Jordan.

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.

Should legal ethics rules be changed to allow non-lawyer ownership of legal services providers? So controversial is the question that it was major news in July when the State Bar of California voted to appoint a task force to study and make recommendations on the issue. What spurred the bar to take this action was the Legal Market Landscape Report it commissioned from William D. Henderson, professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Henderson is my guest on today’s episode to discuss his findings and recommendations.

Henderson’s report makes the case that the legal profession is failing in its core mission of serving those who need legal services. The situation has brought the profession to an inflection point that requires action by regulators, Henderson says. The most effective regulatory action would be to ease rules on non-lawyer investment in order to allow lawyers to more closely collaborate with professionals from other disciplines, such as technology, process design, data analytics, accounting, marketing and finance.

“By modifying the ethics rules to facilitate this close collaboration,” Henderson writes in his report, “the legal profession will accelerate the development of one-to-many productized legal solutions that will drive down overall costs; improve access for the poor, working and middle class; improve the predictability and transparency of legal services; aid the growth of new businesses; and elevate the stature and reputation of the legal profession as one serving the broader needs of society.”

At Maurer, Henderson holds the Stephen F. Burns Chair on the Legal Profession. In 2017, he founded Legal Evolution, an online publication that chronicles successful innovation within the legal industry. A prolific author and speaker, he focuses primarily on the empirical analysis of the legal profession. Among his honors, he was named by the ABA Journal as a Legal Rebel, included on the National Law Journal’s list of The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America, and in both 2015 and 2016 named the Most Influential Person in Legal Education by The National Jurist magazine.

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.

New: Record a voice comment. Want to comment on a LawNext episode and have it played on the show? Record your comment as a voice memo on your device and email it to info@lawnext.com. Each week, we’ll play selected comments on the show.

In September 2017, venerable Magic Circle law firm Allen & Overy launched Fuse, setting aside a portion of its London office for a collaborative innovation space to develop and test new legal technologies, and it named lawyer Shruti Ajitsaria to head the project. On the latest episode of LawNext, Ajitsaria joins me to discuss why Allen & Overy started Fuse, explain what it does, and describe its work to date.

Ajitsaria says Fuse is not an incubator, per se, but a collaborative technology innovation space that gives legal technology companies the opportunity to work directly with Allen & Overy’s lawyers and clients. It’s a win-win, she says. Companies get the chance to test and refine their products, while the firm’s lawyers get to better understand how technology can help them in their own practices.

Ajitsaria was a credit-derivatives lawyer dabbling in angel investing when a pitch from a legal technology startup sparked her interest in legal technology. While on maternity leave, she attended Google Campus’ Startup School, and when she returned to work, suggested and then spearheaded the development of Fuse.

Fuse differs from other incubators in that it accepts companies that are beyond early stage. Participants in the current cohort include AI platforms Kira Systems and Neota Logic. Another participant, Bloomsbury AI, was acquired in July by Facebook. Allen & Overy so much liked the first company it brought into Fuse, fintech company Nivaura, that it made an equity investment in it.

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.

New: Record a voice comment. Want to comment on a LawNext episode and have it played on the show? Record your comment as a voice memo on your device and email it to info@lawnext.com. Each week, we’ll play selected comments on the show.

 

Thirteen years ago this week, in 2005, I sat down in a recording studio in front of a fancy boom microphone, donned a bulky pair of Sony headphones, and waited for the cue. Then I was connected to my new cohost, Newport Beach, Calif., lawyer J. Craig Williams, and recording the first episode of our new podcast. Little did I imagine we’d still be doing it all these years later, making it the longest continually running podcast in law and one of the longest running of any kind.

Last night, after 586 episodes (by my count) of that podcast, I recorded my final one, even as I launch a whole-new podcast of my own, LawNext. Continue Reading Why I’m Signing Off the Podcast I’ve Done for 13 Years