“Law is a data field” – and other great frameworks to help you innovate

Home/Amazing Lawyers, The Future of Legal Practice/“Law is a data field” – and other great frameworks to help you innovate

“Law is a data field” – and other great frameworks to help you innovate


Gail Cohen (@gailcohen) has been covering the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, putting her in a prime position to access and engage thought leaders in our field throughout this period of transition and ‘innovation’ that we are facing.

I often find myself asking Gail about things that are going on in law. One of the things I have been struggling with in the past couple of years is how one goes about innovating in a legal practice. That may sound like a dumb question, but I really wasn’t able to imagine how one would come up with ideas that are really innovative.  Not just tweaks, efficiencies, cuts etc., but a brand new way of doing what we do that is better, stronger, faster than it was before.

So I asked Gail what she was seeing in the legal market that was truly innovative and by what means she thought lawyers might be able to learn how to think differently enough about the practice that they could have a hope of truly innovating in their practices. In other words: what is step #1 for lawyers who want to learn how to innovate?

In the aftermath of our talk, she sent me this video of Dera Nevin’s (@dera_nevin) talk at a Legal Lean conference at MaRS in 2015, entitled “Law is a data field”.

Even the title gave me a different way to approach my thinking about what lawyers actually do today. We are at a point in the evolution of our industry where we are being forced to figure out how to be better and faster at what we do simultaneously with figuring out how to process the exponentially increasing volume of data that is relevant to what we do. But that was just the start.

The rest of the video, which is obviously an edited version of the full talk, contains other great frameworks and ideas that help us define problems in new ways so we can see new opportunities to both help people and make money.

Dera describes how our value – the greatness of what we do – gets trapped by the way we do what we do. It is stuck in emails, documents and the vast volume of pieces of work product that that can’t be remembered by humans or intelligently searched. (The human memory can store just under 800 documents!! My gosh, what was the last file you had that only had 800 documents in it?). 

She then describes how we might go about bringing order to that chaos of data and mine it for common features that will disclose problems and challenges that we are facing repeatedly in our practices. Once we have the problems identified, we can figure out different, more efficient and effective ways of solving them and significantly increase the value we give to our clients.

I found it really helpful. I hope you do too!

Until next time!

By |June 16th, 2016|Categories: Amazing Lawyers, The Future of Legal Practice|Comments Off on “Law is a data field” – and other great frameworks to help you innovate