Rank #1: 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.
Apr 19 2016
Rank #2: 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.
Jul 20 2016
Rank #3: Catching up with Legal Rebel Nicole Black of MyCase
In this special ABA TECHSHOW episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast, Molly McDonough catches up with Legal Rebel Nicole Black.
Black was in the Journal’s first Rebels class in 2009. Just like then, when she was designated the “Boss of Blogs,” she continues to be a prolific blogger and Twitter user. She talks about blogging today and her gig at MyCase, which offers practice-management services to lawyers.
Mar 29 2017
Rank #4: 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.
Nov 09 2016
Rank #5: 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.
May 16 2018
Rank #6: David Van Zandt has made a career out of touching third rails in higher ed
When David Van Zandt became dean of what is now Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law in 1995, he faced a steep learning curve, he tells the ABA Journal's Jason Tashea. But he had a good sense of the demands on recent graduates and lawyers. He also took on faculty hiring and tenure–a third rail in higher education–by hiring those for tenure track positions with not only JDs, but PhDs. Named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel in 2009, Van Zandt is now the president of the New School in New York. Whether grappling with political issues of the day or an oppositional faculty, Van Zandt has continually forged ahead for the changes he believes in.
May 15 2019
Rank #7: 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.
May 10 2017
Rank #8: 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.
Jul 18 2018
Rank #9: CodeX co-founder caught the entrepreneurial bug at Stanford
Born and raised in Austria, Roland Vogl fell in love with California almost from the moment he arrived in 1999 as a student at Stanford Law School. In particular, he was drawn to the entrepreneurial ethos of Stanford’s home base of Silicon Valley.
“The idea of being in Silicon Valley and being immersed in the gung-ho spirit where people solve problems—not so much by policy and lawmaking but by building new systems—really appealed to me,” says Vogl, a 2017 Legal Rebels Trailblazer.
Mar 08 2017
Rank #10: 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.
Dec 12 2018
Rank #11: 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.”
Jul 12 2017
Rank #12: Judge Dixon stays on to keep bringing tech to courts
At 69, Judge Herbert Dixon doesn’t fit that epigram about old dogs and new tricks. He’s still proselytizing about high tech in courthouses and courtrooms, and he predicts its future. He’s still trying some cases as a senior judge, is a member of the ABA Board of Governors and now a Legal Rebels Trailblazer, and he’s engaged in so many other endeavors that he never seems to be (under immutable laws of motion) a body at rest.
Jan 11 2017
Rank #13: 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.
Oct 11 2017
Rank #14: 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.
Jun 14 2017
Rank #15: 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.
Dec 14 2016
Rank #16: 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.
Apr 12 2017
Rank #17: 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.
Nov 08 2017
Rank #18: 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.
Sep 12 2018
Rank #19: Tech is not the only answer to legal aid issues, Joyce Raby says
Since the late 1990s, Joyce Raby has spent a career bringing technology to legal aid. While a booster and believer in technology’s potential to improve America’s legal system, her experience is tempering. “We’ve been saying for a very long time that technology was going to be the saving grace for the justice ecosystem,” she says. “I don’t think it is.” Having worked with the Legal Services Corp. and the Washington State Bar Association, she continues her legal technology trajectory as executive director of the Florida Justice Technology Center.
Jun 13 2018
Rank #20: Trailblazer with a nonlawyer past brings the present and future to law firms
Adriana Linares considers it a badge of honor to work in the legal profession without being a lawyer. Linares co-founded LawTech Partners with Allan Mackenzie in 2004 after several years in the IT departments of two of the largest firms in Florida. Now she travels across Florida, throughout the country and sometimes abroad as a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. “Lawyers, as far as I’ve ever seen, certainly understand how to research and apply law in a way that helps their clients,” she says. “But where they might need my help is identifying tools and services that will help them with their practice management.”
Dec 13 2017