ABA Journal

Legal Rebels and Trailblazers speak!

Hear these innovators tell the tales of how they began changing legal practice and where they see law is going in the future.


How one bankruptcy software company had a banner year despite filings hitting a low

When COVID-19 began hitting the United States hard in spring 2020, Janine Sickmeyer was among those in the bankruptcy world who thought that there would be a tsunami of cases.

A new evidence management tool aims to help public defenders process video and audio

Near the end of her time studying at the University of Chicago, Devshi Mehrotra read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, written by author Michelle Alexander.

New AI-powered legal writing tool aims to help lawyers craft winning briefs

Shortly after Jacqueline Schafer entered the courtroom for the final hearing in an asylum case that she was litigating several years ago, she sensed that the judge was not sympathetic to the claims of her Honduran clients.

How one firm is trying to convince technology clients to embrace subscription pricing

When Joyce Tong Oelrich and her former Microsoft Corp. colleague Zohra Tejani discussed starting their own law firm two years ago, the experienced in-house lawyers agreed that they should take a subscription-pricing approach with clients.

Experienced cloud-based law firm thrives during COVID-19, co-founder says

When the spread of the novel coronavirus last spring prompted traditional law firms across the country to shutter their physical offices amid much economic uncertainty, the management team at cloud-based law firm FisherBroyles had very different concerns on its radar. The team wanted to make sure that the firm was ready to quickly ramp up hiring.

Virtual onboarding has provided some unexpected benefits, firm shareholder says

Virtual trivia nights and happy hours are among the activities that Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks has hosted in recent months to help welcome new hires into the fold amid a remote working environment.

Law firms should not rush lateral hiring, due diligence expert says

With the shift to virtual recruitment amid the COVID-19 crisis, the speed at which law firms vet and hire lateral partners has increased, according to Michael Ellenhorn, the founder and CEO of Decipher. But Ellenhorn, whose company helps legal industry clients evaluate potential hires, says law firms would be wise not to quicken the hiring process too much.

Deloitte is monitoring regulatory reforms but is focused on growing new practice

As states such as Utah and Arizona have approved opening up their legal marketplaces to alternative business structures in recent months, there has been speculation that the Big Four accounting firms would be among those seeking to take advantage.

Constant communication has been key amid COVID-19, law school dean says

Just before students at the University of California at Irvine School of Law were set to return from spring break in March, the university decided that all classes would be moved online because of the spread of COVID-19.

Firms of the future: COVID-19 prompts more law firms to pursue real estate downsizing

In recent years, a growing number of law firms reduced their brick-and-mortar office space as a way to cut costs and also better meet the changing workplace needs of their attorneys.

This Louisiana judge continues to innovate during the COVID-19 crisis

Judge Scott Schlegel’s history of utilizing technology in his Louisiana courtroom to make life easier for attorneys and members of the public has come in very handy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bench trial by video? This lawyer says it went better than expected

Exhibits were screen-shared with witnesses. Lawyers conducted cross-examinations from their offices while the judge watched from his home. And one afternoon, the proceedings ended early when a witness lost their internet connection.

Legal reform advocates need to more actively engage the public

Supporters of broad reforms to how the legal profession is regulated must do a better job drawing the public into ongoing conversations in several states about such issues, says Paula Littlewood, the former longtime executive director of the Washington State Bar Association.

BigLaw firm’s legal tech subsidiary has launched a steady stream of COVID-19 tools

When the novel coronavirus began rapidly spreading across the United States earlier this year, Kimball Dean Parker says he felt a strong desire to help consumers and businesses in need.

How hosting a national pandemic summit aided the Nebraska courts system with its COVID-19 response

When the novel coronavirus began sweeping across the U.S. earlier this year, Nebraska’s judicial system was better prepared to rapidly adjust its operations than some of its counterparts in other states.

Online estate planning sees surge during coronavirus crisis

The online estate-planning platform Trust & Will saw at least a 100% increase in business in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Cody Barbo, the company’s CEO and co-founder.

President of the Legal Services Corp. reflects on his tenure

Asked to reflect on his nine-year tenure as president of the Legal Services Corp., Jim Sandman says he is proud of many things that he and his team accomplished.

How 2 Texas lawyers are marketing their practice through song

Thanks to social media and the internet, it’s never been easier—or more affordable—for lawyers to advertise. On the other hand, having so many avenues available to lawyers makes it more difficult for anyone to stand out from the crowd.

Reinventing the staid field of legal academic writing

Legal academic publishing isn't synonymous with innovation. The mere mention of it can, for some, bring up repressed memories of the most banal and stuffy aspects of law school. But the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wants to change that.

Finding your niche: How one lawyer built a practice by defending a notorious accused hacker

Leaving BigLaw to start his own firm in 2011, Tor Ekeland quickly learned that his legal education was insufficient for the task at hand.

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