Thursday, November 25, 2021
Anuisa Gillespie, Where are law students learning about NewLaw?, Legal Evolution (Nov. 3 2021):
It is that time of year, when 1Ls are starting to think about and explore job opportunities for summer 2022. They research the legal market online and engage through social media, but generally rely on their law school career resources to usher them into the legal world.
But, with a few exceptions, law students must rely on you — the person on the front lines of modern law practice — to help them understand where and how NewLaw will be an integral part of their futures.
Personally, I make myself available to law students about career questions for two reasons.
First, to pay it forward. I was pleasantly shocked at the reception and time offered when I was a law student. Out of all my LinkedIn requests for informational interviews, only one person did not respond.
For the law students reading this, note that this high response rate was due in part to the fact that my outreach was consistently thoughtful. I would research the person, find a point of connection, and then make my inquiry specific to their work so the agenda of the conversation was targeted and clear.
Still, credit goes to the lawyers and professionals who responded and offered their time. Thank you.
Second, because — at least in my experience — the career information provided to law students is woefully inadequate. Law professors do their best to pepper in speakers while career services is there to usher students through the on-campus interviewing process. As a result, career information for law students is ad hoc and underinclusive. Accurate and reliable information about NewLaw is almost non-existent.
I would encourage you to connect with law students and help fill that gap, perhaps for your own pay it forward reasons, but also because it helps keep you fresh and connected. Their questions will have you thinking and reflecting, I promise.
1. How can I help law students better understand the intersection of NewLaw and practice without a major drain on my time?
Short answer: Create a “NewLaw Office Hour” and invite ~4 law students to join, either those who have reached out to you already or share the opportunity on social media to fill your spot.
This fall, I became overwhelmed with the amount of law student requests for time. But I was committed to meeting with all of them.
My solution is that now, once I get 3-4 requests, I pick a time, send a calendar invitation for a video meeting, and provide the time as a “NewLaw Office Hour” for the students to join. They all show up. This model saves hours of my time, is more valuable for the students than a 1:1 as they learn from one another’s questions, and it provides the added benefit of connecting students across law schools.
You don’t have to wait for incoming requests, either – share your own “NewLaw Office Hour” on LinkedIn and limit sign-up to the first four students to register. Talk to them about your career and where you use new technologies, types of talent, and processes, or how you are working differently with clients. Tell them what you see coming. I promise it will be well worth your time.
2. What kinds of questions are law students asking about NewLaw?
The strong need for better integration of NewLaw concepts and career guidance for law students is clear in the outreach I’ve received, and conversations facilitated. Here are some recent questions from law students, with truncated answers in case they might be helpful as a starting point for your own conversations.
When legal talks about analytics, is this just in reference to research platforms like WestLaw and Lexis?
No, the conversations and applications are much broader than the legal analytics found within WestLaw and Lexis. Legal analytics include, but are not limited to, insights derived from litigation data. Legal analytics tools are predominating used today to examine dockets, opinions, and contracts but that’s because it is the cleanest and most readily accessible data to access — it represents the lowest hanging fruit, not necessarily the highest value applications.
Let’s also differentiate between operational analytics and legal analytics. The concepts are often condensed, conflating these two worlds and creating confusion.
Operational analytics within legal are aimed at better transparency into pricing, hours, performance, and demand, whereas legal analytics extract and show meaningful insights within the context of the law. Both are important, with the latter more immediately relevant for law students.
Follow-up; How do you use legal analytics in your practice or career?
Here are some legal analytics examples to prompt your thinking:
Intellectual Property Competitive Benchmarking: This is the analysis of a competitor’s patent portfolio and comparison with a client’s business strategy to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for patent development, monetization, patent purchase and/or mergers & acquisition.
Deal Points. From commercial real estate financing to private equity, deal points are (often unmined) gold. Smart firms run technology over historical agreements, extract critical deal points, and provide that data with accompanying analytics to their clients to inform future deals.
Analyzing a client’s litigation portfolio. The review of an in-house department’s litigation portfolio for insights and preventative measures. For example, a review across geographies for specific labor & employment matters show a hot spot of litigation in a certain jurisdiction, which prompts counsel to investigate and resolve the underlying business issues in that location.
Does NewLaw and concepts like analytics only live in BigLaw, or do I need to know this stuff for mid-sized law firms and boutiques, too?
You need to arm yourself with NewLaw competencies for any place you land in legal, regardless of size. The types of NewLaw applications that you find most useful may depend on your organization type and role, but with general competencies established you can then become more expert in the areas most relevant to your day-to-day.
The most common question from those in practice as related to NewLaw is: but how? Where do I start? Regardless of size, if you can help your organization answer that question then your value will quickly shine.
Be mindful also that size does not equate to sophistication. You may find an even greater need for NewLaw competencies in smaller firms. One shining example is Hermes Law and its emerging InsurTech platform.
What is an ALSP?
ALSP stands for Alternative Legal Services Provider.
Law students would benefit from understanding how you interact with ALSPs in your practice or career, or not and why not. What insulates your practice from other providers?
Here is follow-up homework for them to better understand ALSPs and the corporate legal ecosystem: David B. Wilkins & Maria José Esteban Ferrer, “Taking the “Alternative” out of Alternative Legal Service Providers,” The Practice, July/Aug 2019.
How can I leverage my background in data and technology my 1L summer to be more attractive to BigLaw for my 2L summer?
I honestly don’t know.
My instinct is that BigLaw will not see the value in, for example, a 1L summer with a legal technology company if the focus of the internship is on the tech. If the focus is on interaction with legal departments, on the other hand, then BigLaw might care given the client service context gleaned.
The answer here might lie in the client insight story, rather than the data/ tech competency.
Thoughts? I put this question out to the Legal Evolution community for answers.