How To Evaluate Legal Technology: A Handy Checklist
We have written here about how law technology often focuses on the wrong problems. How do you make sure that the latest piece of tech that you are utterly enamored with is actually working for you, rather than being a shiny new toy? Over at Slaw, a Canadian legal magazine, Sarah Glassmeyer put together a helpful checklist. Among the factors Glassmeyer urges lawyers to consider:
- Evaluating yourself and your own use of tech: what tech gets you the most ROI because it actually shifts duties away from you so you can do higher-paid work?
- How much will it cost overall? Will you need to upgrade your tech setup? Will your IT costs increase or decrease?
- How solvent and otherwise thriving is the company you are about to purchase from? Purchasing legal tech solutions from a company that goes under is not a sound long term investment, obviously.
Cravath, Swaine, and Moore Confirms It Got Hacked
Today, everyone is plowing through the Panama Papers, a massive document dump from a tiny Panamanian law firm (Mossack Fonseca) which revealed that the super rich, including many world leaders, use a shadowy network of offshore shell companies and holdings to stay super rich. Because of that, you might have missed a lesser-noticed law firm hack from last week, in which BigLaw firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore revealed they had been hacked. More big firms have probably been hacked, but firms aren’t terribly eager-nor are they obliged, necessarily-to inform their clients about a breach.
But big law firms, as a general rule, are loath to confirm whether they have been victims of data breaches, largely out of fear of alarming clients. Breaches and potential intrusions at large law firms often go unreported and generally come to light only anecdotally — often in news reports or discussions at legal conferences.
Perhaps we might see more big firms following Cravath’s lead and own that they had a security breach, but you probably shouldn’t hold your breath on that.
Just How Many Law Jobs Will The Market Bear?
The legal market is getting better! The legal market is getting worse! We could write an entire series on alternately dire and hopeful job market predictions. Obviously, so much of how you evaluate the market will depend on what data you choose to slice and dice.
Law School Cafe looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers for historic growth numbers in order to make some predictions about where we might be headed. Back in the heyday of 1978-1988, the legal market saw roughly 20,000 jobs per year (!!) added. The following decade, however, only saw about 9,900 per year. It was around 2008, of course, that things got downright terrible, but there has been an uptick:
Between 2008 and 2010, the number of lawyering jobs plunged from 759,200 to 728,200, a loss of 31,000 jobs in just two years. Growth resumed after 2010, with the number of employed lawyers reaching 778,700 in 2014 (the latest year for which data are available). But between 2008 and 2014, the annual growth rate for lawyers averaged just 3,250 new jobs per year.
Between 2012 and 2014, the most recent period of recovery growth, the economy added 9,450 new lawyering jobs per year.
Takeaway? We are trending back up from the absolute cratering of a few years ago, but we have a long way to go to make up all the jobs lost during the crash and BLS projections, Law School Cafe reports, are only at about 4,380 new legal jobs each year over the next eight years. Still not the rosiest outlook, is it?
Judge Posner Has a Lean Mean Citation Guide You Should Read
Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, one of the simultaneously crankiest and most astute judges around, famously loathes the Bluebook.
“The first thing to do,” Posner writes, “is burn all copies of the Bluebook, in its latest edition 560 pages of rubbish, a terrible time waster for law clerks employed by judges who insist, as many do, that the citations in their opinions conform to the Bluebook.”
If you clerk for Posner, you get a citation style guide that is a whopping six pages long and it spends quite a bit of time telling you what not to do (don’t use cert denied, don’t use pin cites in short opinions, don’t put “http” in your website cites) in the interest of simplifying things. Once you read it, you will probably wish every judge was so relaxed about citations.
How To Job Hunt in Legal Tech
If you are interested in breaking into the legal tech side of things, Evolve Law has put together a legal tech job board with positions at places like Avvo, CosmoLex, and LegalZoom. Right now, the board is pretty heavily weighted toward the “tech” side of legal tech (ruby on rails engineer, anyone?) but is probably worth keeping an eye on.
(h/t Robert Ambrogi)