We recently enjoyed a great Twitter conversation with Stephen Allen of Hogan Lovells and Alex Smith of Reed Smith about legal tech. Law firms are fed up with fluffy terms. They want solutions. It’s no good promising to integrate Blockchain or AI if it doesn’t manifestly benefit your customers. The same goes for blogs. Legal tech blogs can be a fantastic resource (we definitely think ours is…!) However, not all blogs are created equal. Some offer analysis and insight. Some offer a welcome distraction on a Friday. Many, unfortunately, are just hot air.
Moving forward, we’re going to build a living list of legal tech blogs. Each installment will cover five new blogs. We’ll outline what they’re good at and what they’re bad at. We’ll also include some more lighthearted entries, so you don’t look at your inbox with too much dread. If you have a specific blog you would like us to cover then drop us a Tweet or email us directly with your suggestion.
The Time Blawg
The Time Blawg is a new one on our radar (thanks Alex!). It came to our attention following a piece about the controversial outcome of the recent London Legal Hackathon. The piece itself was a great (and deservedly critical) look at the use of technology for technology’s sake. It is also indicative of what you can expect from the author, Brian Inkster. Namely, an irreverent look at the good, the bad and the ugly of legal tech.
What it’s good at: As we pointed out, Brian doesn’t pull any punches. This makes the blog wonderfully refreshing in that it will often point out unnecessary tech, poorly thought out concepts, or badly organised events. The blog is also skilled at bringing in real opinion from Linkedin or Twitter, to expand on or support arguments. It builds a first hand account of someone trying to find the best way to implement technology in the most appropriate way as a practicing lawyer. It helps that that person is also eminently capable of doing so.
What it’s bad at: Giving you a more top down look on the legal industry. As a personal blog, the focus is on topics and subjects that directly impact the author. As such, if you’re looking for a bigger look at the challenges facing, say, Big Law in the US, this is not the place for you. We also wish there was a more prominent tagging system, so we could select pieces on specific topics.
Associate’s Mind began back in 2010 when newly qualified Keith Lee realised he needed help. Specifically, he wanted to create a resource that looked at how to be a better lawyer. Keith has gone on to create a community of legal professionals who share advice, ideas and tips. The blog itself deals with various topics. From personal development, to running a firm, to the best ways to manage cases, there’s a lot of information on offer.
What it’s good at: Ironically, this blog excels at putting a personal face on the world of technology. Its strength lies in the community it has built around the blog itself. This means that you get more than just insightful articles about how to make the most of your legal practice. But it also offers feedback on what works, and what doesn’t, from real lawyers. Don’t forget to check out the resources page for a comprehensive list of all the information a lawyer could need.
What it’s bad at: Because the focus of the blog is so broad, it can mean that the content is erratic. One week you can be reading about alternative working styles. The next it’s whether information from Facebook should be allowed as evidence during a trial. We would also love to see more practical reviews of technology from a lawyer’s perspective. Given the combined experience of the community, it’s a shame we can’t get a more in depth picture on which products actually work, and which just fail to deliver.
MIT Technology Review
Yes, yes, we know it isn’t *technically* a legal tech blog. But in the interest of opening up horizons, we’re adding it in. At this point, it’s almost impossible to operate in the world of law without some form of technology. Not to mention the indirect impact it has on a legal system frantically trying to keep up with and regulate it. As such, we recommend every lawyer has their finger on the pulse of technology. And to do that, we’ve chosen the MIT Technology Review.
What it’s good at: As one would expect of one of the world’s most respected technological institutes, the content is comprehensive. What sets it apart is understanding the human element in all this technology. The site does more than simply inform the reader about the next wave of technology. It also offers the ways you can protect yourself from intrusive social media. Or whether AI can protect us from Alzheimer’s.
What it’s bad at: We do wish the topics were a little more concise. ‘Business impact’ is such a broad catch all that you can lose days finding content relevant to you. The introduction of sub categories would vastly improve this.
Lowering the Bar
For this week’s more lighthearted installment, we’re looking at Lowering the Bar. The name is a pretty accurate indicator of the delights this website offers. Featuring a treasure trove of criminally stupid acts, poorly thought out sound bites and idiotic laws, there’s plenty to keep you distracted on a quite Tuesday afternoon.
What it’s good at: The site focuses on the US legal system, which (given the rise of Trump et al) doesn’t seem to be running short of hilarious legal antics any time soon. It’s also wonderfully cathartic to read of other’s idiocy and remember just how well you are holding things together.
What it’s bad at: As with all the other comedy entries, this isn’t a legal tech blog. If you’re looking for hard hitting industry news, then look elsewhere.
Legal Loop is a regular blog written by Niki Black, housed under the umbrella of the New York daily record. The blog is a broad look at the intersection of law and technology. As such, Niki writes about the impact of technology in the courtroom. She looks at advice on how to best use technology for single practitioners. Finally, Niki covers technology within the law; its admissibility and use in recent cases.
What it’s good at: Firstly, it’s nice to be able to review a fellow female legal tech blogger. That aside, Legal Loop is a great resource for US lawyers. Particularly those with a practice based around technology. The blog covers a wide variety of cases and precedents from all over the US. It also features a lot of interesting research on law and technology, so acts as a good cover all for catching up on impartial data, as well as opinion.
What it’s bad at: The blog is part of a paid digital subscription. If you aren’t based in the US, we wouldn’t advise signing up. We also would love to see more critical analysis of legal tech too. Currently many pieces fall short of really nailing down what is holding legal tech back.
Remaking Law Firms
Remaking law firms is a blog made up of the contributions of a huge range of legal professionals (or those offering advice to the legal profession). The blog itself arose as a supplement to the excellent book of the same name, written by George Beaton and Imme Kaschner. Because of the breadth of contributors this blog covers a huge variety of content. The vast majority is focused towards the ways firms can innovate to continue being competitive in the 21st century.
What it’s good at: Identifying trends, explaining them and then using evidence to explain ways to react to these trends. If you work in a senior position in a firm the biggest concern is often what is coming around the corner and how it will affect the business. This blog helps you navigate those concerns and provides practical advice to avoid obsolescence.
What it’s bad at: Another blog which suffers from styling issues. The only real way of discovering content (rather than following a link) is to scroll through the titles of every blog. We wish they could be categorised for those of us looking to browse for inspiration.
Legal IT Insider
The Legal IT Insider, commonly known as the ‘orange rag’ offers both a blog and a regular digital newsletter. The name is a pretty clear indication of the content. Not only does it offer information on the newest and hottest legal tech developments, but also insider news on the legal industry.
What it’s good at: Caroline Hill, the Editor, is very proactive in keeping up to date with legal tech. It means that the articles themselves are well written, but also well researched and often share snippets that may otherwise fall through the cracks. The newsletter itself is a great snapshot of the legal industry from a tech perspective. We are definitely a fan of the writing style, which avoids being a buzzword filled headache.
What it’s bad at: As with many of the bigger newsletters or magazines reporting on legal tech, the biggest focus is on the Top 200. By necessity, as they provide the most information about new collaborations and products. Information on more niche developments is harder to find.
Above the Law
Those of us following the world of US law will have similar problems. Almost every article ends up linking to a website with some sort of paywall or demand to switch off an ad-blocker. Honestly, journalists of America, sort out your websites. Well, not so with Above the Law. The website describes itself as a look behind-the-scenes of the world of law. It offers a combination of news and opinion pieces and covers legal tech updates regularly.
What it’s good at: The lack of paywalls aside, this website is well designed, well thought through and a solid source for all legal news. The guest commentaries are certainly our favourite around the office. They often cover thought provoking and contrarian ideas with well structured arguments. Add to that the good mix of more lighthearted pieces and you get a fun, fresh legal tech resource.
What it’s bad at: One very obvious (and pretty minor) downside is that as a US website, a lot of the news is US focused. However, the opinion pieces are still very applicable over the pond. We would also love to see more commentary from younger techies to balance out the excellent quality of opinion from legal professionals.
Each week we try and introduce a more lighthearted entry to encourage people not to take the law quite so seriously. This edition features Legally Weird. Like the china cupboard of a strange aunt, it features a collection of the odd and the forgotten. They round up a collection of the most bizarre news stories covering (often) some more topical issues applied in odd ways. This week for example features the legality of Google’s selfie matching app, how many political lawn signs is too many and whether grumpy cat can sue for use of his image.
What it’s good at: As we say, much of the content (whilst a bit ridiculous) is very topical. It’s a breath of fresh air to read something which makes you giggle first, and then really debate later. Better still, it’s interspersed with much more joke-y content, like the stupidest crimes of 2017.
What it’s bad at: Well it’s not really a legal tech blog, so if legal tech features it’s a coincidence not a habit. However, if you’re looking for entertainment and some eye opening cases then head here.
Briefing and LPM magazine both sit under the umbrella of the Burlington Media Group. Both are digital and print magazines writing on the support and business side of law. Briefing is targeted at the top 100 UK firms, and LPM at SME firms. The magazine itself is monthly, and often has special supplements focusing on pricing or technology.
What it’s good at: One of the key things which sets Briefing aside for us are the number of interviews they feature. As such the magazine is able to offer advice and guidance direct from some of the most successful names working in the business. They are also one of the few magazines to focus on IT Directors, Heads of LPM and Ops Managers rather than the traditional Managing Partner interviews.
What it’s bad at: Because Briefing offers monthly publications it doesn’t have the same ability to deliver news hot off the press. Their publication is more one to sit back and digest at a slower pace for inspiration if you work in a firm, but not as a lawyer.
3 Geeks & a law blog
3 Geeks offers (in their own words) an ‘eclectic mix’ of information. They cover the administrative side of the modern law firm. Often that means articles on pricing, marketing or the impact and regulation of legal technology. Most enticingly, they don’t allow sponsored ‘thought pieces’ (or spamming as they call it). All of the content is written by experienced lawyers attempting to grapple with, and implement, the topics they are writing on.
What it’s good at: Our favourite writer has to be Casey Flaherty’s no bullshit series. We’re all for straight talking. Casey tackles many of the fallacies currently facing the industry. This also includes a great analysis on innovation in the industry.
What it’s bad at: Our single greatest complaint about this website is the styling. If you want to browse through the blogs you will find it tough to navigate. Unfortunately, there also isn’t much in the way of a menu. However, we highly advise you give this blog a try. Maybe just set aside an afternoon to get to grips with it first.
***Following this review, 3 Geeks has undergone a styling revamp. It is now much easier to navigate and is a lot less ‘Windows 98’. Consider us impressed!***
Artificial Lawyer is a legal tech blog written and managed by Richard Tromans. Richard is a regular face at many of the legal tech shows around the world. Unlike our previous entry, 3 Geeks, Richard also accepts paid ‘thought pieces’ on his website. Unfortunately this means that recent content has become rather (ironically) un-thought-provoking. We hope to see more original pieces return.
What it’s good at: Because of the sheer amount of paid content, the blog does act as an accurate snapshot of the legal market. Certainly in terms of advertising which firms and tech companies are now collaborating.
What it’s bad at: Offering insightful debate on legal tech. We should include a caveat here: Many of Richards older articles did offer thought provoking content, which we featured regularly in our social media. However, the last six months have seen a serious decline of this type of content. We would welcome more critical debate.
Roll on Friday
Well here’s a name that should need no introduction. Certainly, not for any lawyers currently reading. Roll on Friday is the eponymous blog published on Fridays, dealing with UK firm gossip. Unlike most gossip sites, Roll on Friday does seem to have some pretty strict journalistic integrity. So it’s less gossip, more redacted gospel. Unless, that is, your looking at this week’s most glamorous solicitor…
What it’s good at: Making yourself feel better about your own levels of integrity. You may have worn the same shirt for two days, or avoided called a client you don’t like but you haven’t yet sunk to the depths of those written about here.
What it’s bad at: Well it doesn’t purport to be, nor is it a legal tech blog. So don’t go here looking for industry analysis. That being said, the entire Clocktimizer office spends Friday afternoon giggling our way through here. Everyone deserves a bit of lighthearted fun in between the serious reading.
The Algorithmic Society
The Algorithmic Society is the newest incarnation of Kenneth Grady’s blog (previously Grady wrote under SeytLines). Grady is an internationally recognised writer and speaker on law and innovation. He is also currently Adjunct Professor at Michigan State Law School. The blog itself covers a broad range of topics. Common themes include the current legal market, innovation and questions of the ethical use of technology.
What it’s good at: Unlike many law blogs which suffer from a certain homogeny of thought, The Algorithmic Society has some unique views. Grady writes well on topics, and voices sharp criticism where necessary. You may not agree with him, but it will force you to confront your own opinions.
What it’s bad at: Offering solutions. If you already recognise problems within your industry and are looking for advice or successful role models, then this is probably not the blog for you. Admittedly, some articles do look at the ways technology is working. However, in general the commentary is analytical of systemic underlying issues, rather than manageable challenges law firms are facing and how to deal with them directly.
***Following this review Ken announced that he would be sharing more content with practical advice for firms to balance the theoretical analysis he is known for. We’re happy to say that Ken has delivered. Check out his recent blog examining what the future of transformative legal tech may look like for a brilliant example!***
Legal Cheek’s target demographic are students. Or those who recently stopped being students. As such they have a wealth of information for those embarking on a legal career. However, for those of us with considerably more grey hair, Legal Cheek also offers fun, quality blogging on everything from technology to crime.
What it’s good at: Covering a broad range of topics with a youthful perspective. There are no shortage of experienced lawyers writing on technology. Mixing up that perspective with the opinions of an entirely different demographic offers a new way of looking at things.
What it’s bad at: High level industry analysis. Legal Cheek offers a huge number of articles on focused topics. But because its target audience are not sitting at the top of the firm yet, they do not focus on the concerns of these executives. As such, Legal Cheek is the place to go to learn about new technology (think bitcoin). But it won’t be a useful resource if you want advice on buying in new legal tech for your firm.