Many students approached this new school year with anxiety regarding technology. Four OU Law students, however, tackled technology head on – attending the jam-packed, completely virtual, International Legal Technology Association (ILTA)>ON technology conference.

 

OU’s College of Law generously sponsored four third-year students’ registration to the ILTA>ON conference. Cole Reynolds, Rich Lubbers, Amanda Finch, and Anthony Kanalas break down all their favorite moments from the conference in a recent TALIcast podcast, but some key takeaways are included here.

 

Conference Format

 

ILTA>ON was virtual conferencing done right. The programming offered a plethora of concurrent tracks and sessions with novel and varied content. It was challenging for the students to choose just one session to attend.

 

The conference was attended and presented by practitioners from all over the world. As a result, there were sessions offered much earlier and later than a typical in-person conference. This made it easier for, not only the international professionals, but also busy students to work in conference sessions at their convenience. Many presentations were also available on demand afterwards. So, to the extent that there was a conflict and you missed a presentation you were really interested in, you could watch it on your own time.

 

Amanda was particularly impressed with the conference’s integrative technology, such as interactive polls, that encouraged attendees to actively engage in the presentations in real time. She was also pleased with the ease of giving feedback as surveys were provided as a simple poll, on the screen, right at the end of each session. This format was not only convenient for attendees, but conference organizers were able to—and did—improve the experience continuously based on the quick feedback they received.

 

For many participants, networking is the primary goal of conferences. This is especially true for law students and other young professionals. Cole appreciated that ILTA>ON took this into consideration when they designed the “Hallway Chatter” sessions, which facilitated networking conversations, allowing attendees to catch up with and meet other conference goers outside of the moderated chat in the more formal sessions.

 

Favorite Sessions

 

If each of the students who attended could tell you one thing about this technology conference, in particular, it would be that it is about “more than gadgets and gizmos, the focus is really on the people, both those we serve and those we work with.” The ILTA>ON conference was not just about technology; it was about how technology supports and influences people.

 

This support, especially when it involves process changes, is often met with resistance. Rich noted that ILTA>ON addressed this difficulty through numerous sessions discussing tools and strategies to help get teams on board with technology improvements. He found the practical advice for how to leverage technology and implement change especially refreshing.

 

Amanda’s refreshment, however, was found in the sessions regarding emotional intelligence, as well as diversity and inclusion. She enjoyed being given concrete steps to affect change in your firm; and the emphasis on measuring change on a spectrum. Improving diversity and inclusion is more than just checking a box; it’s about collecting data and implementing evidence-based practices that rehabilitate the culture of a firm, while protecting, and many times, boosting the bottom dollar.

 

Anthony enjoyed learning about evidence-based practices surrounding the service perspective of embracing legal solutions. He came away realizing that while some professional environments could benefit from a complete technology overall, that approach is not always practical based on the resources available. It is crucial, therefore, to evaluate the metrics of the current systems to determine where efficiencies can best be realized through the implementation of new systems. This data-driven approach focuses on prioritizing upgrades, while convincing the whole team to come along for the ride.

 

As new technology is integrated into legal practice, these solutions impact real people and that reality should influence implementation decisions. This is why the leadership-oriented sessions appealed most to Cole. He was introduced to different ways to approach technology-based solutions to people problems. And, at the end of the day, or week even, this technology conference was about just that: people.

 

As a whole, the students appreciated how well OU Law’s Digital Initiative programming prepared them to fully engage in some of the more tech-heavy sessions. The ILTA>ON conference introduced skills and strategies that built on strong foundation of technical competency OU Law works hard to instill in its students. This investment will go far in assisting students as they transition into the legal profession.

 

Check out the latest TALIcast podcast episode to hear more!

 

Sydney N. Forsander, P.E., 3L

Secretary, Technology and Legal Innovation Society at the OU College of Law

The past few weeks have been hectic. Ever since COVID-19 started spreading throughout the world, nothing has been the same. People are scared, angry, and sometimes both. Most of us have either had to start working from home or lost jobs as a result. In the coming months, we will all be forced to make changes. They will be uncomfortable, and they will be disruptive.

As one of my professors told us when we began transitioning to an online class, nobody asked for this. And she’s right. None of us asked for our classes to be converted to an online format halfway through the semester. We didn’t ask to be legally mandated to stay home. We didn’t ask for our jobs to be lost or lessened as a result. But it doesn’t matter what we asked for. This is our reality. We will have to adapt in order to thrive in it. And that is exactly what we should plan to do.

Lawyers are not generally thought of as “innovative,” but we are. Our profession is built around solving problems and creating systems that endure. By taking this time to innovate, we can adapt to our current situation while preparing ourselves for the future.

As a law student, I have had to adapt along with my classmates. But I have one advantage: I have been working remotely since May. My classes are definitely different, but I have been communicating virtually for almost a year now. I have had to make my own schedules and avoid distractions at home. I have had to face unique challenges that are just part of life when working remotely.

Another advantage I have is that OU Law offers one of the best technology and innovation programs in the country through its Digital Initiative. Between online training and certifications such as the LTC4 program, several hours of lunch and learns, and a top of the line collaborative learning lab, OU Law gives me the tools and training I have needed to succeed.

Seeing as how we are all facing these challenges together, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned. My hope is that there is at least one thing that can help you, whether you are a student, professor, or practicing attorney, as you adjust to this new reality.

Scheduling

As I said before, working from home means that you will have to deal with distractions. Kids will want attention. Pets will want attention. Your phone will want attention. And it is easy to give in to those temptations. After all, you’re at home, you’re comfortable, and you’ve been working hard (even if you’ve only worked a few minutes).

What I do is write my schedule out. Actually, I write it out several times. For instance, I add priority events, meetings, or deadlines on my iCal. This way I can set alerts and reminders to ensure I stay on task throughout the week. Next, I roughly outline times of each day for certain tasks. Based on my productivity habits, studying and hard work is usually scheduled for mornings. Afternoons are reserved for work. Evenings are reserved for relaxation or preparation for the next day. Finally, I have a journal that allows me to schedule every hour of my day from 6 am to 9 pm from Best Self Co. Not only does my journal allow me to freely plan each day, but it is also structured for me to practice my affirmations and reflections at the beginning and end of the day.

You may not need to schedule everything as I do. You might be used to having onecalendar and being accountable to it. But, if you are like me, the more you repeat that promise to yourself that you will work on one thing at a specific time the more likely you are to follow through with it. And that makes all those little distractions just a little less tempting.

Communication

Obviously, we are almost all going to be keeping our distance from other people for a while. That means that emails, phone calls, and video calls just got a whole lot more important.

Emails should be reserved for formal and non-urgent matters. When you need to communicate something in detail, write an email. If you need to write something that the recipient needs to see soon, send a text. This way, your emails will not needlessly interrupt someone while they work and you won’t be sitting at your computer waiting on an urgent email response. If you are interested, here is an interesting article about how disruptive email can be and some suggestions on how to curb the impact.

I have found that it is helpful to have a reliable set of headphones or earbuds that you can conduct phone calls with. You don’t need AirPods, but even regular apple headphones have worked better for me than holding the phone to my ear. The biggest difference I have found is that it is easier for me to understand people when they speak. Even I get tired of me saying “what did you say?” so it is very important that I be able to hear and understand who I am talking to.

Finally, I think it is about time we all become familiar and comfortable with video calls. I’m not talking the ‘dressed from the waist up’ kind of comfortable though. No, what I mean is that we need to practice being on screen. For students, a lot of our classes are being held in these environments. For attorneys, video calls can be used to give clients a better way to communicate. While video calls are not the same as in-person meetings, they do allow us to interact more holistically while still preserving freedom and flexibility with our schedules.

Conclusion

Most of the challenges that you will face when working or studying remotely will be focus driven. A lot of things are going to pull your attention away from things you should be doing. Your children, spouses, pets, and thinking about our current situation will distract you. I don’t think it is possible to get rid of those distractions. But I do believe that we can structure our environments and routines to limit the impact of distractions.

By becoming familiar with the technology we have to embrace, we will be less frustrated with it when it eventually does mess something up. We will be able to troubleshoot more effectively and get back on track with our day. By having a detailed schedule and affirming our tasks to ourselves we can be more accountable even when nobody else is around. And by embracing our use of technology to communicate we can reduce the amount of confusion created by misunderstanding one another.

This adjustment will take time and collaboration. None of us will be able to adapt on our own. I wanted to share some of the tips or tricks that I have used over the past year for exactly that reason. I hope that there is even one thing in this post that you can implement and improve your study or work habits.

If you are an OU Law student (or any law student) and would like to share how you have adjusted to working and studying remotely, please reach out to us in the comments or contact us here. We want to hear from as many readers as we can so that we can tailor any future content to your requests and what you want to be covered.

Introduction 

If you’re anything like me, your first experiences in law school—whether it is a “summer start” program like the one in which I began or the more traditional 16-week semester—may well turn out to be a wakeup call of the worst kind, like a slept-through-your-flight kind of call from a hotel’s front desk. In short, the first months in law school have the power to make you feel not only like you’ve been left behind but that you’re all alone. It’s like Home Alone; only this time, you’re playing Kevin. 

Perhaps that seems dramatic. And in one sense, I suppose it is. After all, plenty of students adjust to the rites and rigors of law school without so much as breaking a sweat. But for the rest of us, there’s an adjustment period, and a significant one at that. But now that I’m nearly halfway through my 3L year, I wanted to take some time to pass on what I’ve learned. In particular, let me simply say “I wish I’d known that” about these “Three Rs and a T” earlier than I did. 

Consult Resources. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, the first thing to which I wish I had been privy during my first few months of law school were the school’s vast network of resources, of both the professional and personal variety. They are there, waiting to be consulted. But you’ve got to know who and what and where they are. 

By professional resources, I mean both awareness of and access to the vast array of supplementary materials that line your library’s dusty shelves as well as your school’s version of the University of Oklahoma the College of Law’s 1L “Study Resources” splash page. Not to be dramatic, but my school’s supplementary materials were the sine qua non of my vast improvement between my first and subsequent semesters.  

That said, the truth is that there are far more resources to peruse than there is time to peruse them. But don’t let the sheer volume of supplementary sources scare you away. Instead, find a few you like, and then apprentice yourself to them early on. It’ll make a world of difference come exam time. (Personally, I like to spend most of my time with conceptual outlines and digital recordings of famous law school lecturers. Others prefer multiple-choice compilations or flash cards.) 

By personal resources, on the other hand, I mean the plethora of personnel who are at your service. Although my school’s director of academic support had yet to take the metaphorical field when I arrived, I have since had the pleasure of working with her while she called the tutorial plays. I don’t know about you, but I find that talking through concepts in one-on-one conversation is one of the best ways in which I learn. Whether those conversations are for you or not, get to know the administrators, the advisors, and the tutors. They’re there for you, and they want to see you succeed. And if you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned professors in this section, it’s that my own experience has taught me that profs generally make for better conversation partners than tutors. So get your directed academic guidance elsewhere. 

Prioritize Relationships. 

For most of you, this one’s probably a no-brainer. Like most things in life, law school is both easier and more enjoyable when you do it with others. No, don’t do others’ work or sign up for classes just because someone else does. But don’t forget to build relationships. And don’t start thinking about relationships exclusively through the lens of networking just because you’re in law school. People aren’t projects; they don’t want to be treated like means to ends. So “Yes,” get to know your classmates, mentors, and other friends of your school . . . but not because of what they can do for you but because of who they are. 

More specifically, within the first few months of school make it a personal goal to deal with your own myopia by seeking out relationships with a few good men and women, especially men and women with different interests, skills, and backgrounds. You won’t believe how much of the “law” you miss simply because of your own background and biases. Plus, a few good men and women make for excellent study buddies come exam time. And everyone needs a few study buddies.  

Even Lebron can’t win titles on his own. Of course, if those study buddies totally fail you, just get new ones. If you’re wondering how to do that, just call the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office. I’m sure team executives would be happy to tell you how they managed to trade away all Lebron’s teammates to places stretching from New Orleans to Timbuktu.  

But, on a more serious note, other people often make all the difference in who we are and what we become. See generally John MacMurray, Persons in Relation (Humanity Books 1961). Most of your success in law school, as in life, in other words, will likely be byproduct of those around you. See id. This is categorically true—even for the “highest ranked” among us. So get out there and make a few friends. But remember to treat them like people, not projects. 

Read Effectively. 

This one’s probably a no-brainer too. But get ready to read, read, and then read some more. But be sure to learn how to read first. So you know, I wrestled with whether to make “Reading” the first ‘R’ in my list, primarily because it seems to be the foundational element of every (legal) education program in the world. But I’ve chosen to put it here because even though it is arguably the most important item in this list, chances are it’ll be easiest to “fix.” 

If you don’t already know, the “best” readers among us read different genres differently. See, e.g., Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading 190-308 (Touchstone Books 1972). For example, the best readers approach academic journal articles on sub-atomic particles one way and New York Times opinion pieces another. To become a good reader, in other words, is to learn to take stock not only of what you’re reading but why you’re reading. Only then will you be able to understand how you ought to be reading. This is even more important when it comes to reading the law. 

One quick illustration: I came to law school after spending three years working as a middle division American history teacher. My paramount objective was to introduce students to the “past” as well as the people, places, and events therein. One of the many ways I did that was by giving lectures. To prepare, I would often have to conduct research and hunt for facts. The most important facts were usually buried somewhere within hundreds or thousands of pages of journal entries, newspaper articles, or monographs. Sometimes the hunt was exhausting. But it was always worth it because it wasn’t until I had a decent grasp of the facts that I was able to present a story of the past through which students were prepared to identify and explain, or analyze and interpret, historical events. 

Understanding the facts is an equally important part of the study and practice of law. But to treat cases only—or even primarily—as a hunt for hidden facts is to miss the point of reading case law. Yes, we must have a basic grasp of the facts in order to analyze cases intelligently, but the goal of reading case law is to learn to identify the relationships between the facts and the rules, not just to memorize facts. In some sense, that is the essence of the practice and interpretation of the law: What is the relationship between fact(s) X and rule(s) Y at time(s) Z, and what does that relationship permit, encourage, or bind the court to do? 

It Just Takes Time. 

The last thing about which I want to say “I wish I’d known that” is that, for most of us, adjusting to the rites and rigors of law school just takes time. I find it ironic that I didn’t see this coming. As an “older” student (I was 29 when I started), I suppose I should have expected that any measure of success in law school—like most good things in life—wasn’t going to come overnight. As convenient as they are, everyone knows microwave ovens ain’t got nothin’ on slow cookers. Wherever you are in the process, remember this. It’ll probably take some time to adjust.  

Just exactly how much time it’ll take to adjust is different for everybody. It took me a semester. In fact, by the time I figured out what was going to be asked of me on my first set of exams, it seemed like I had less than a couple weeks to prepare properly. Others probably could’ve taken—and passed—their exams without preparing and all. Not me. And likely not you either. So take some time to reflect on how quickly (or slowly) you typically adjust to new environments, and then do the things I’ve recommended above. 

Conclusion 

Ultimately, the key to achieving a measure of success in law school is not about how quickly you adjust or how effectively you read; instead, achieving a measure of success in law school comes as you get to know who you are and what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals. If you’re 22 or 23, be willing to admit that you don’t know much about who you are or where you’re headed. And if you’re a little older, like I was, just remember that graduate school and mid-life career changes are never easy. In a word, don’t worry about whether you’re going to be a “success.” Success does not, after all, always look like graduating “number one” or landing a federal appellate clerkship. It might, but it might also look like cranking out public interest briefs for next to nothing.  

Notwithstanding the fact that everyone’s personalities and professional goals are different, I have a sneaking suspicion that the sooner you learn how to consult resources, prioritize relationships, read effectively, and acknowledge that it takes time to adjust to the rites and rigors of law school, the less likely you’ll find yourself saying—like I did—“I wish I’d known that.” 

The intersection of technology and healthcare has reached an unprecedented point in history. The traditional medical model, where the ability to accurately diagnose and treat patients is gained from thousands of hours of hands-on medical training, is being challenged. The challenge comes from the creation of artificial intelligence (AI) software that can use deep learning to meet or exceed the accuracy and dependability of medical decisions made by their human counterparts. These AI systems function as an “economy of minds” using collective experiences of human physicians and healthcare providers to create massive databases of knowledge that can be trained to perform specific undertakings.[1] AI already infiltrates fields such as radiology, optometry, and some simple surgeries. But what happens when the initial programming has been outgrown by the learning of the technology and the technology makes a mistake. Who becomes the tortfeasor? The doctor relying on the AI? The hospital paying for the AI? Is the company responsible for the initial programming? Or is no one liable?

This paper will challenge the current application of the technology’s ethical considerations facing a healthcare provider using AI and explore the use of AI systems in medical decision making. I will divide my argument into five parts. Part I will define AI by deciphering a very complex, technical topic understandable language. Part II will break down AI into the three primary classifications of AI systems that will be important to delineate as these types of systems are discussed. Part III will explore the current and potential uses of AI in healthcare by giving more concrete examples of AI applications when mass amounts of data are available. Part IV will identify significant concerns with the ethics of AI as we know it today but specifically, focus on the reliability concerns of a healthcare provider using an AI system for diagnosis or treatment planning. We will also look at how current law intersects with innovative AI. Finally, in Part V, I make a recommendation considering the use of AI in healthcare and how the symbiosis of such tools can be maximized while at the same time limiting risk. Continue Reading The Bioethical Issues of AI in Healthcare

When I began law school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with a JD. All I knew was that I was interested in the law and that it couldn’t hurt to have another degree. I walked onto campus committed to chasing whatever grabbed my attention. I expected Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Torts, or any other course to give me a pull in the direction I would go down. But my pull came unexpectedly.

My classes kept me preoccupied with legal doctrine and more reading than I care to recall. I was intrigued by my classwork, but I could never single out one as my primary interest. I kept running home and talking to my wife about stuff that I wasn’t required to learn about. It was the Digital Initiative Lunch-and-Learns that I would attend.

To me, it was a no-brainer to attend a free lunch and learn some useful skills. At the beginning that was just how I saw it. No need to bring food to school or pay for a meal, and maybe I learn how to save a few minutes when I had to write a brief. By the end of my first semester, those lunch-and-learns turned out to be far more significant.

I began to research emerging technologies in law practice. I started following dozens of legal innovation accounts on Twitter. I went to every possible Lunch-and-Learn that I could, even if I had brought my lunch that day. I could not get enough information about how technology and innovation could change the way that lawyers functioned.

Writing a brief? Here’s a tool to check your grammar and Blue Book citations. Researching cases to argue in court? Here is an artificial intelligence tool that shows you the most influential cases on the issue. Not very organized? Here is a tool to help you map out your days, projects, or notetaking.

To me, it just made sense to use these tools. After all, I am a first-generation law student with very little idea of how the law is “supposed” to be practiced. In short, you could say I was impressionable.

So, I took advantage of the programs that OU Law provided for me. As I mentioned before, I went to countless Digital Initiative lunch meetings. I became LTC4 certified thanks to the law school’s collaboration with the Legal Technologies Core Competencies Certification Coalition. I attended the 2019 ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago (a highlight of my first year) where I got to meet influential legal bloggers like Bob Ambrogi, Ivy Grey,  and Kevin O’Keefe, along with the Lawyerist team. And now, I work on building our very own student-led Technology and Legal Innovation Society here at OU Law.

I am blown away just thinking about all of the opportunities that I have been able to seize in just one year. But the benefits of Technology and Innovation didn’t end with the spring semester. I was lucky enough to land a job that allowed me to practice my new skills and even work remotely. Then, at the end of the summer, my employer offered to keep me around to help manage online accounts, his website, and other tech-related tasks. All of these opportunities are a direct result of my pursuit of innovation.

I have barely started my 2L year and I have already practiced using tools that save time and streamline the processes of research, drafting documents, managing documents, and organizing firm information. To me, that practical application and being able to use technology as a way to improve my study habits is an invaluable experience.

My experience with legal technology and innovation has changed my approach to my work and study in several ways; I am more efficient. I am more organized. I like to think that I also keep my information more secure. I can collaborate with coworkers and peers from anywhere. In short, I can do any task better and faster than I could without these tools.

I still don’t know what kind of law I will practice in the future. I’m not even sure that I will actively practice law. If I do, I likely won’t practice for very long. What I do know is this: I will use technology and innovation to do my job better and more efficiently. I will not use my incompetence to justify billing my clients for hours of work that I could save (not to mention the fact that it would be unethical and likely get one disbarred if taken to an extreme degree). I will make any legal process as transparent and simple for future clients because hiring a lawyer is already intimidating enough.

I will drive the legal profession to be better, serve more people, and positively impact lives. And I will be able to do all of this thanks to legal technology and innovation.

I am a big fan of podcasts. I am also a law student. Naturally, this means that I listen to podcasts about practicing law quite a bit. One of my favorite podcasts is The Lawyerist.

For anyone that is not familiar with Lawyerist, it is a platform that provides insight and resources to law firms to become better in practicing law. While all of the episodes I have listened to have struck me in unique ways, their episode with Fastcase CEO Ed Walters was particularly intriguing to me. In this episode, the focus was on leveraging data to make better lawyers and law firms. The discussion is driven by the publication of the book “Data-Driven Law.”

For some, the idea of using data in a law firm may sound foreign. However, as this episode pointed out, all firms rely on data. Lawyers rely on knowing judges and cases to anticipate how likely they are to win a case. Some lawyers rely on experience to determine how much certain litigation might cost. Practicing law is already driven by data. But what if that data was more accurate? What if it allowed you to standardize the likelihood of success? What if it made clients more confident in your services? The possibilities could drastically improve your practice if used correctly in several ways.

There were three uses for data that I found especially powerful while listening to this episode;

Increasing Firm Efficiency

Law firms need to be nurtured and grown. That means that there is more work in running a firm than just practicing law. You have to bill clients, bring in new clients, cover overhead costs, and pay employees. All of this takes time away from handling cases and actually practicing law no matter how you handle them. Most likely, the firm is going to spend money on advertisement campaigns and tools to improve client experiences to increase referrals.

By analyzing data, a firm could be able to identify where they are getting higher or lower returns on investments. Online campaigns could cost more than what the firm is making by intake from those services. Maybe a partner spends time chasing leads or managing payroll that limits the revenue that they could be bringing in with their billable hours. That partner could save time by using a more efficient tool, and, even if it costs money to use, could actually be saving money by freeing up their time to handle cases.

Data could explain how much money and time is being sunk into these tasks that firms may not realize are actually costing them money. This would allow you to readily access the analysis of how well your firm is using its resources.

More Accurate Predictions

Law firms provide unique services in relation to other markets. Lawyers rarely know, down to a statistical level, how likely cases are to play out one way or another. A layer’s experience and personal analysis already serve as data that informs decisions. However, when clients bring potentially life-changing issues to a lawyer, it is easy to see why they are afraid to move forward. Additionally, if a potential client is shopping for a lawyer, they may take the case to more than one firm to make their decision. It would stand to reason that the client would move forward with the firm that is able to calculate an exact higher-percentage of success, rather than the one that thinks it has “a good chance” of being a winner.

This ability shows that you take the time to consider their particular facts and apply your previous success in similar cases. Clients will feel far more confident in a firm that calculates their confidence instead of just making an educated guess. For a lot of clients, they are bringing life-changing problems to lawyers. When you consider that, it is easy to see why they would prefer to see a firm put in the effort to calculate probabilities.

Potential to Unbundle Services

Not all clients need or require a lawyer to handle their entire case. Some clients simply cannot afford a lawyer. So what if you could offer some services at a low flat rate? This has been a trend in law since the introduction of LegalZoom and other platforms that offer assistance with certain documents. However, law firms in many states would be capable of offering these “unbundled” services with a more personal touch as well.

As some states move towards allowing lawyers to assist pro se litigants, unbundled services could become the basis for several firms. With data analytics, firms could calculate flat rate services. These services could satisfy the client’s need for value and the firm’s need for profit. The system would be able to track how much time it takes to draft certain documents. The firm could then determine precisely how much each document would cost to draft.

Law firms need to focus on improving their operations. To do that, they need to understand their current operations. by leveraging their data, firms can increase efficiency and lower costs. They could even offer affordable flat-rate services. In order to reach more clients and improve existing client relationships, data should serve as an important tool for any law firm.

Technology in the legal field is effervescent – new companies are popping up everywhere; but what technology can law students actually use while they are in school? What canstudents take back and apply in their day to day studies? Certain companies stood out with their technology because of the way they allowed students to integrate the technology in their studies. Further, these companies’ technology transitioned with the students, as they became full time attorneys.

Throughout the 2019 ABA TECHShow, there were some standout companies for law students and academics. Companies could be placed into two categories based on their functionality: Research or Practice and Skills. These companies were:

 Research

 

Casetext

Casetext’s innovative AI machine, ‘Cara,’ allows students to research in a way never done before. A student can upload their paper and get suggestions for research from AI – we are living. The best part, Casetext is free.

LexisNexis

Students learn about LexisNexis in law school, but many might not know all the skills training videos LexisNexis provides or the advanced research opportunities on their sight. Plus, gain enough points, and students can cash in for gift cards.

fastcase

Fastcase prides itself on being ‘smarter legal research’ and they should. Their latest update of Fastcase7 is not only user friendly, but their powerful sorting algorithms get reliable and tailored research results.

Practice & Skills

 

kinnami

Kinnami is a unique company that allows students to authenticate their work by ‘timestamping’ it through their independent sight and keycode. If a student wanted to protect against academic integrity, for example, they could timestamp their work using this software.

PayneGroup

PayneGroup offers multiple different software that students could use throughout their time in law school. They offer tools such as Metadata wiping – when sent in an email; this can be handy when being an intern. They also offer formatting for appellate briefs, including table of authorities. They offer student discounts.

Word Rake  

Word Rake edits lawyers and students’ writings. This software could help students in law review, legal research and writing, and essentially every other law class they are in. They need something to proof read their papers and this software is the perfect tool to do it.

 

As a law student, these are the companies that can easily fit into the educational system and enhance the students’ lives. These companies have embraced technology with students in mind.

 

Jordan Thomas, 3L

As one of the few law students at the ABA TECHSHOW, I am pretty pumped about the unique perspective I now take with me into my career. Not only does the University of Oklahoma provide amazing opportunities for us to become technologically literate lawyers but experiencing the TECHSHOW provided a new view of the legal profession and the path of my potential career, one in which I may just become a legal entrepreneur.

Not to dog on our profession, but we are, in large part, still beholden to many who do not quite want to step into the 21st century. You know who I mean. Those partners who really don’t believe technology can be effective in the legal world. To these people I say: 1. Can I have a job? And 2. Let’s walk hand in hand and use some of the amazing tools other lawyers have created for us.

While partaking in tech skills training and learning about the available legal technologies, was in-and-of itself an invaluable experience, meeting lawyers turned entrepreneurs was definitely my favorite part of the ABA TECHSHOW.

Entering Law school I had no idea who I wanted to be, much less what I wanted to do. The law seemed interesting and I wasn’t quite ready to “adult” yet. I will never forget sitting in law school orientation and learning about the “legal mind.” At the time I sat quietly, eating my lunch, and internally rolling my eyes. Okay we get it, you’re going to make us smart. But as I reached the half way mark of my law school career I really started feeling my legal mind take shape and even my spouse would get annoyed when we would argue because I would manage to reason my way out of whatever it is I was probably wrong about.

Now as a 3L, I am excited about venturing out and finding a career. They say the career path used to be that of a ladder, you take the first step and if you make a good faith effort at your job you will see the next steps appearing and you will make your way to the top. Now, many people say it’s like a jungle gym. You start at the bottom and you take many twists and turns and when you reach a resting point you look back at your winding path, not entirely sure how you ended up where you are.

I find this will be increasingly true for lawyers as we step forward into our careers equipped not only with a formal legal education but with our legal minds, discerning and understanding the world around us in a unique way. I saw this more than ever at the TECHSHOW when I spoke with “former” attorneys about their start-ups and small businesses.

So many lawyers have stepped out from their traditional roles and used their personal experiences to make the profession better through their innovative ideas. Companies like Headnote and Casetext are founded by lawyers who know the business and saw a need for change and growth. Using their legal minds combined with their entrepreneurial spirit, they created successful companies offering digital solutions for a profession that tends to struggle with stepping into the digital world.

Meeting people who have taken their legal minds and become movers and shakers, using business innovation to make our profession better, faster, and more successful, improving access to justice and many other aspects of the legal realm. For a profession that builds its life on helping others it’s pretty awesome to meet those who have set out their careers to help those in their profession better help others.

Maybe one day I will find myself lawyer-turned entrepreneur and I will stand on the TECHSHOW floor, talking to law students, teaching them how to use my amazing new product. If not, I hope I can build my career in a way that empowers those with the passion and the insight to create amazing legal tech, using their legal minds to advance and stimulate our profession, to move it in a direction of innovation.

 

Meg Reeder-Cramer, 3L

 

I say that I was the TECHSHOW attendee with the least experience or knowledge of technology in the legal world. As a non-traditional student, I have felt a little (maybe significantly) behind my peers because using technology is not as natural to me as it seems to be to my younger peers. Before I left, my emotions ranged from excited to terrified. I really did not know what I expected to learn and had some doubts that it would be as beneficial as others claimed. I was wrong.

 

EXPO HALL

My sleep-deprived and travel-worn self initially found the Expo Hall to be a tad (incredibly) overwhelming. I literally trailed along with a much more talkative and engaging peer who buzzed from booth to booth asking the best questions. I learned so much just about what is available as my work experiences have been in government where cutting edge technology is hard to find. In one booth, there was an app developed to encrypt text messages between attorneys and clients. Next, there was a virtual receptionist who would take your calls—even provide translation services. In another booth, I found an insurance service that employers can provide to employees to provide basic legal services (wills, DUI’s, but not murder—they made that clear making me think there could be a story there) that also happened to be looking for lawyers in many states to contract for those legal services (Anyone want to practice in Alaska?). The list could go on and on.

 

SESSIONS

TECHSHOW offered tracks for specific interests, but I bounced around to different sessions on different tracks. While they varied, I was generally impressed with the presenters and took away valuable information that will help me in my future practice. For example, you can run a law practice and spend less than $150.00 a year on paper! Overall, the greatest takeaway was that the traditional practice of law is going to change and lawyers who want to succeed must get on board. I found sessions about virtual firms, social media, and paperless offices to provide the most valuable information. It was exciting to think about the possibilities available to new lawyers.

 

NETWORKING

As an extreme introvert, I find small talk and meeting new people to be slightly terrifying so I always dread networking. Prior to TECHSHOW I was really struggling with trying to decide what type of lawyer I wanted to be. As a non-traditional student, I have professional experiences that make it very clear what I do not want to do with my time, but I also have commitments that create nuanced circumstances affecting my career decisions.  While those experiences, in my opinion, make me a better law student, I was conflicted as to what direction to take. While making the dreaded small talk at one of the receptions, I met a law professor who told me about some of his students who have pursued less traditional routes and established solo practices or virtual practices straight from law school. That conversation really gave me the courage to consider options that may not be traditional but would work well for my family. While I am not completely certain as to what direction I will take, I am in a better position to make informed decisions about my future. I also took that conversation and used it to select to sessions to attend. By the way, the food and drinks were great, too!

 

I definitely value my TECHSHOW experience and plan to us it to shape my career regardless of which path I ultimately choose. I wish all of my peers could have the opportunity to attend.

 

Marci Gracey, 2L

 

When I got the email, I was beyond excited. I felt like I just gotten the golden ticket because I was one of eight students who would represent OU Law at the 2019 American Bar Association Techshow in Chicago, Illinois with Professor Brice, Director of Innovation and Technology.

 

​I work in the OU Legal Clinic, where a majority of our civil cases involve family law matters for low income clients. The work comes with the some of the best rewards. But it also comes with some daunting challenges—especially when funds are tight. With my passion for family law as a focal point, my mission at Techshow was to see how emerging technology can better assist and serve low income clients. To my surprise, I accomplished this mission with ease.

 

In divorce and custody cases, communication between the parties is often strained and disjointed, but it is one of the most important elements of being able to effectively co-parent and nurture the best interests of the children. While there are established platforms out there that provide a variety of ways to help facilitate communication between parents, the cost incurredin using these programs can prove problematic for parties who already cannot comfortably afford to pay for legal services. In the past, I have mentioned these services to my clients, and, while they seemed interested in the concept, they were more concerned about the expense and whether the other parent could afford it or would even be willing to use it.

As I walked through “Start Up Ally” at Techshow, I stumbled upon OurChildInfo.com (OCI). This private and secure website was created by Aaron Carine, a family law attorney from Illinois who was exasperated with the self-destructive behaviors of his clients when it came to communication. Carine’s website offers some of the same advantages of other communication-centered websites, but at a fraction of the price. With this website, there will be no more “lost phones” or “deleted messages”. No more constant struggle of getting clients to print out, line by line, their communications with the other party. Nothing can be deleted, and everything is timestamped with date and author. Clients can even post documents and photographs. Almost immediately after the demonstration, I fell in love. This website was a potential solution to a daily problem plaguing my clients going through divorce and custody battles! And it costs only $7.50 a month for the first parent who signs up, with the second parent getting free access.

Within two weeks of returning to Oklahoma after three enlightening days in Chicago, I was able to implement some of this fantastic legal technology that I had discovered. Soon after my return, I was counseling a client who is struggling to co-parent effectively due to toxic communication habits. After trying, admittedly in vain, to explain the various apps that allow users to screenshot texts and give some instructions on how to work a printer, I told her about OCI. Once she understood, she was so excited to finally block her ex and refer him to this affordable new communication tool. Seeing how this client responded to the program makes me even more excited to spread that excitement and peace-of-mind to my other clients.

It was an honor to attend the 2019 ABA Techshow. The experience has reinforced my belief that all law schools and firms should be open to new and emerging technology, andembrace the ways that these programs help make the practice of law more efficient and cost effective. But, more importantly, the legal community should adopt these programs for their ability to help us serve the clients who need us most.

Tommy Pfeil, 2L