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ABA Journal: Legal Rebels

The ABA Journal Legal Rebels Podcast features men and women who are remaking the legal profession and highlights the pioneers who are changing the way law is practiced and setting the standards that will guide the profession in the future.

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John Suh sees LegalZoom's job as fixing a 'failed' legal system

"We didn't start out to be disruptive," says John Suh, LegalZoom's chief executive officer. "We were set up to fix a problem. The legal system was broken and too many people were frozen out of it." For Suh, the main goal of LegalZoom continues to be providing access to the legal system for millions of Americans who can't afford an attorney and do not qualify for free legal services. "So much of our legal system is focused on BigLaw or access to justice for those below the poverty line," says Suh. "What about the 84 percent or so of people between that? For them, the system really has failed." What Suh has done during his tenure as CEO is transform the company from a do-it-yourself outfit into one that has partnered with lawyers. "The perception that we're an online legal company with no human lawyers is just not true," says Suh. "Over the last five years, we've embraced lawyers and become quite adept with working with them." There have been over 200,000 one-on-one consultations between LegalZoom customers and lawyers licensed in their respective states, he says.

15mins

19 Apr 2016

Rank #1

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E-discovery expert Craig Ball: Tech is no harder to learn than driving

Craig Ball likes to say he got into law to stay out of prison. The Austin, Texas-based attorney, professor and electronic evidence expert has always been passionate about technology—somewhat too passionate at times. When he was a teenager, he created a device that allowed him and his friends to make long-distance calls for free. He got in trouble with the law. But luckily for him, the prosecutor and judge didn’t think his crime was all that serious. “The lawyer who helped me out hired me as a law clerk, and that put me on the path to becoming a lawyer,” says Ball, who earned his JD from the University of Texas School of Law in 1982, after which he opened his own law firm. The advent of the personal computer and the internet reignited Ball’s interest in technology. He became fascinated with computer forensics and the nascent field of electronic discovery—areas that still flummox many lawyers and judges today.

14mins

9 Nov 2016

Rank #2

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Lisa Solomon found the time was right for her career in online legal research

Plenty of lawyers hate to do legal research: It can be tedious and time-consuming, and one mistake can tank an entire case. For lawyers of a certain generation, the very sight of those two-toned, musty-smelling books that all look the same is enough to fill them with dread. For younger lawyers, electronic resources can be just as intimidating and mystifying. Luckily for Lisa Solomon, she loves that kind of work.

9mins

10 May 2017

Rank #3

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Criminal justice experts hope tech can more easily help people expunge prior convictions and arrests

In the United States, an estimated 70 million people have a criminal record. Being tagged with this scarlet letter can affect a person’s ability to find employment, housing and even potential relationships. Meanwhile, the expansion of freedom of information laws and the internet has changed how criminal records are used and who has access to them. These changes raise questions around the purpose of criminal records and the limits of legal remedies like expungement and sealing. To make better sense of these issues, Colleen Chien, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, and Sarah Lageson, an assistant professor at Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice, came together and talked to ABA Journal Legal Affairs Writer Jason Tashea about their research into the modern trials and tribulations of expungement, sealing and criminal records. Special thanks to our sponsor, Nexa.

29mins

16 Oct 2019

Rank #4

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Legal tech's future is in lawyers' mindset, Randi Mayes says

When you ask Randi Mayes about the future of technology in law firms, she says its growth will stem from attorneys’ behavior rather than specific product offerings. “The real possibility for change in the future sits more with the mindset,” says Mayes, the executive director of the International Legal Technology Association. “It’s all about the law firm adopting its client’s worldview and innovating service delivery with those views in mind.”  Randi Mayes is the founder and executive director of the International Legal Technology Association. She has also worked for worked for the Texas law firms Brown McCarroll (which merged with Husch Blackwell in 2013) and Small, Craig & Werkenthin. She lives in Austin, Texas.

13mins

14 Dec 2016

Rank #5

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Jeff Carr continues his fight against billable hours

Jeff Carr has been on a 40-year path of improving lawyer efficiency and effectiveness. "There's an old saying that if you pay for service by the hour, you buy hours and not service," he says. "And I still believe that very much." In this episode of the Legal Rebels Podcast, Carr speaks with ABA Journal reporter Jason Tashea about why he came out of retirement, and how his principle of the Three Es calculated the value of legal services to clients. Special thanks to our sponsor, Answer1 and Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge.

31mins

13 Mar 2019

Rank #6

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Entrepreneur Amy Porter’s theme is finding what lawyers need

When Amy Porter founded the online payment platform AffiniPay, she drew on her experience as a college athlete—cheerleading while majoring in merchandising at the University of Texas at Austin—which led to work as a sales representative with Varsity Brands, an athletic clothing company. Her businesses now include LawPay, an online payment platform for attorneys, and CPACharge, which she developed after discovering accountants were using LawPay for online payments. Special thanks to our sponsor, Answer1.

14mins

18 Jul 2018

Rank #7

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Robert Litt has been out front on online threats for decades

Robert Litt has confronted cybersecurity and encryption issues for two presidential administrations. With Russian interference in the 2016 election as a backdrop, Litt, an ABA Journal Legal Rebels Trailblazer, says the U.S. has been facing online threats essentially since the internet's creation.

29mins

10 Jan 2018

Rank #8

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Deborah Rhode is at war with complacency

Stanford Law School Professor Deborah Rhode is the enemy of complacency. This Legal Rebels Trailblazer is one of the most cited scholars in legal ethics, though she wears many more hats. She has carved out specialties in discrimination (ranging from race and gender to the unfair advantages that flow to physical beauty, often probing their intersection with legal ethics) and in criticism of legal education itself.

18mins

20 Jul 2016

Rank #9

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Justia’s Stacy Stern finds real profit in making things free

Stacy Stern is in charge of revenues, among her other roles at a successful for-profit company, but she tends to talk more about giving away products and services. It becomes obvious that she thinks giving is more important than receiving—not that Justia, the legal portal she and her husband, Tim Stanley, created, isn’t out to make money. But–philosophically at least–they turn the standard business model on its head. Profit for the 100-plus-employee company makes it possible to put up more free stuff. Stern, a 2017 Legal Rebel Trailblazer, and Stanley, one of the original ABA Journal Legal Rebels, make basic law free and available to one and all, while turning a profit by helping lawyers market themselves.

23mins

12 Apr 2017

Rank #10

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Robert Ambrogi’s blog points lawyers to tech’s opportunities

Legal journalist and blogger Bob Ambrogi recounts his unorthodox path towards legal journalism, as well as where he sees the legal industry heading – especially as it relates to technology.

15mins

8 Nov 2017

Rank #11

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Paul Lippe’s ‘new normal’ was always about innovation

For years, Paul Lippe has been a leader in helping corporate law departments adopt the approaches used in the best and most innovative parts of their own companies—and in doing so, significantly changing the relationships with and the work done by their outside lawyers. A Legal Rebels Trailblazer and one of the original New Normal contributors for ABAJournal.com, Lippe’s career path has been all about change and innovation.

28mins

14 Jun 2017

Rank #12

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Young lawyers can be technophobes too

Many lawyers are reluctant to new adopt legal technology, says Monica Goyal, who developed platforms including My Legal Briefcase, which helps parties in the Canadian small claims courts, and Aluvion Law, which uses automation to cut legal services costs for small businesses. "We think young lawyers are on Facebook, Twitter, they're using computers, and that somehow they will be more willing to try and experiment with new technology. I've found that's not the case," Goyal tells the ABA Journal's Stephanie Francis Ward in this episode of the Legal Rebels Podcast. Special thanks to our sponsor, Answer1 and Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge.

18mins

12 Dec 2018

Rank #13

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Legal writing pro is helping teach AI to draft contracts

Ken Adams has brought his contract expertise to LegalSifter, a Pittsburgh artificial intelligence startup. The 2009 Legal Rebel and author of “A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting” sat down to discuss his new venture with the ABA Journal’s Jason Taschea. Adams says LegalSifter is a system built with human expertise to address the fact that many customers are doing the same tasks when dealing with contracts. It’s a system that will excel at flagging issues that keep coming up, and he thinks the technology will be sophisticated enough to flag the issues for any one user. Special thanks to our sponsor, Answer1.

17mins

12 Sep 2018

Rank #14

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Susskind sees ‘rosy future’ for law—if it embraces technology

For more than three decades, Richard Susskind has been one of the profession’s most prolific voices in support of implementing technology with legal services delivery. The author of more than 10 books on the topic, his next one will focus on technology in the courtroom. “A better way of running state-based dispute resolution is largely using technology, rather than using traditional methods,” says Susskind. “Rather than hiring a lawyer, one might instead have an online dialogue with the other party and a judge and resolve a dispute more rapidly.”

11mins

12 Jul 2017

Rank #15

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Bruce MacEwen diagnoses and prescribes for law practice ills

Bruce MacEwen is both a doctor and an epidemiologist in the world of BigLaw firms. A Legal Rebels Trailblazer, the Adam Smith, Esq. founder can diagnose structural illnesses, including aspects of the partner-as-owner model, and he can point to unhealthy customs and practices, such as when aversion to failure becomes its cause. He also can give advice and guidance for getting better and surviving or, in some instances, provide a dispassionately detailed autopsy.

33mins

11 Oct 2017

Rank #16

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From paper to digital documents, Judge Andrew Peck traveled (and set) the discovery trail

As electronic data became more prevalent in the 1990s, Judge Andrew Peck, an ABA Journal Legal Rebels Trailblazer, wrote a line that would be quoted by judges and lawyers for generations to come. “It is black-letter law that computerized data is discoverable if relevant,” he wrote in Anti-Monopoly Inc. v. Hasbro Inc. It was one of Peck’s earliest decisions from the bench. In this episode of the Legal Rebels Podcast, Peck discusses his career and the technological changes he experienced with the ABA Journal’s Victor Li.

20mins

16 May 2018

Rank #17

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Legal services innovator moves on to app development

It’s too easy for attorneys to be aware that something isn’t perfect in their practices and accept the situation instead of pushing back. So says longtime legal innovator Nicole Bradick. “What it’s all about is identifying something not working as well as it should be and thinking of possible solutions,” says Bradick, who in January launched a legal technology company, Theory and Principle, that aims to do just that: “Ask why is this happening, and are there any changes we can make to fix the problem?” Special thanks to our sponsor, Answer1.

10mins

15 Aug 2018

Rank #18

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What's your brand? Max Miller has some thoughts

It's good to be seen as a "thought leader," but don't call yourself that in marketing materials, says lawyer, professor and small business owner Max Miller. "It should be evident," Miller told the ABA Journal's Stephanie Francis Ward in this episode of the Legal Rebels Podcast. "You shouldn't have to put it in your LinkedIn profile." Special thanks to our sponsor, Answer1 and Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge.

26mins

17 Jul 2019

Rank #19

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Longtime legal tech leader Richard Granat finds a new challenge

Richard Granat–the creator of MyLawyer.com, SmartLegalForms and the People’s Law Library of Maryland–has joined Intraspexion, a new artificial-intelligence software company, as a strategic adviser. At 75, Richard Granat does not fit the stereotype of a startup entrepreneur. However, he says, although there may be bias against older entrepreneurs, his experience is a benefit, not a detraction.

23mins

14 Mar 2018

Rank #20