The Latest

  • GLSA 2017 Member Benefits

    Listen to the teleconference below:

  • How to Get More Out of Your Time in the Office with Deep Work

    The hullabaloo of modern life: it’s inescapable.

    Devices beep, buzz, chirp and ring. Just this morning you may have overheard or said yourself: “My inbox is flooded,” “Have you checked your twitter feed?,” “Did you see what she posted on Facebook?,” “Oh those pictures you posted on Instagram are adorable!,” “Have you tried out that bot on Messenger?” And you may have texted, “Don’t forget to pick up some milk! 😘

    We’re all inundated.

    In a world that’s moving at breakneck speed it seems impossible to step off the digital train, but to do our best work it’s absolutely necessary. Alan Watts, British philosopher, writer and speaker, once said, “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

    So how do we do that and still get things done?

    Deep Work

    I found the answer in Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, a book I picked up at a conference with its own fair share of electronic distractions.

    Newport contrasts “deep work” with shallow work:

    Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create value, improve your skill and are hard to replicate.

    Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much value in the world and are easy to replicate.

    If you’re like me, you probably recognize that a lot of what you do throughout the day tends to fall into this second category. Checking emails, completing tasks, following social media – the kind of thing that keeps you busy, but doesn’t really create value.

    Here are Newport’s rules to achieve deep work (and by the way I never said the answer I found was easy!):

    Rule #1 – Work Deeply

    To work deeply, it is helpful to come up with a ritual to put oneself in the right mindset. You may have a different approach than me.

    Ask yourself where you’ll work and for how long? This should be a location where you can “turn off” all the distractions. Preferably this is not the same place where you usually work because it’s too easy to fall into bad habits. Think of the place where you’ll want to do deep work as a sanctuary. Maybe an unused meeting room or a kitchen table (if you work from home)?

    How you’ll work once you start to work? You must establish rules for your ritual, such as a ban on Internet use and metrics of accomplishment (e.g., words per 30 minute interval, 2 problems solved in one hour, etc.)

    How you’ll support your work? This may be as simple as ensuring you have a cup of coffee before you begin, to light exercise or walking à la Steve Jobs to clear the mind.

    Rule #2 – Embrace Boredom

    What? This rule sounds crazy you might say. Why on Earth would I want to embrace boredom? Because many creative and wonderful ideas occur to the reflective mind that is not distracted by entertaining diversions. The ability to concentrate intensely is a skill that must be trained. To train this skill, you must learn to become comfortable with boredom, through meditation or memorization skills, for example.

    Rule #3 – Quit Social Media

    Quitting social media is a tall order you say? Newport cites the Internet sabbatical of digital media consultant Baratunde Thurston who said (after shunning social media and email for 25 days), “I was less stressed about not knowing new things; I felt that I still existed despite not having shared documentary evidence of said existence on the Internet.”

    Newport is not a hard liner on this point. Rather, he advocates a middle ground approach: Identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a social network tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts (such as irrational distraction).

    Rule #4 – Drain the Shallows

    Eliminate as much shallow work as possible. Newport points to an experiment by Basecamp, a software company, in reducing its work week to 4 work days. The idea was not to force employees to work 40 hours in 4 days rather than 5. Rather, the idea was that by reducing the work hours, it would force employees to focus on the important stuff during the time they did have to work instead of waste time on water cooler talk, or checking Facebook, or unproductive meetings. The experiment was a success and a win-win: employees get more free time and the company gets higher quality work from workers during the time they are in the office.

    How would you implement these rules in your practice?

  • The Benefits of GLSA Membership

    How does GLSA membership make me more employable?

    I’m a mid-50’s lawyer with 27 years of experience.  By reason of a serious of unfortunate events and a downturn in the economy, I was forced to close-down my solo practice and get a job.  I thought, who is going to hire “my old self”?  As I evaluated my employ-ability, I became anxious about my job prospects especially comparing myself to all of the younger, hungry, tech-savvy lawyers who did not have the same salary requirements that I had.  As I got involved in the interview process, many of the prospective employers asked if I had a “book of business”.

    Eureka, I do.  As a longtime member of GLSA I had developed a relationship with over 15 group legal plans that referred me business.  I found these prospective employers were very interested in my ability to bring this business into their firms.   This buoyed my confidence and resulted in two job offers.  I required a non-compete in my employment agreement wherein I retained these referral sources should I change jobs.

    Being a GLSA member enhanced my relationship with the legal plans which ultimately resulted in my employment on terms that I probably would not have been able to otherwise negotiate.

    Thank you GLSA!

  • What is a Chatbot?

    If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, reading blogs or the occasional legal industry related tweets on twitter, you’ve heard the deafening cries and dizzying excitement about artificial intelligence, machine learning and chatbots.

    But, what are chatbots?


    a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.


    You see, it all started with Alan Turing, the original computer scientist on which the movie The Imitation Game was based. Turing developed his test in 1950 for intelligence in a computer.

    The idea is if a human is unable to distinguish machine from another human being through engaging it in a dialog of questions and and replies, then the computer could be deemed to be “intelligent.” Turing predicted by the year 2000, a computer would pass the test on five-minute keyboard conversations 30% of the time.

    That all changed 6 years ago when in 2011, at the Techniche festival in Guwahati, India, an application called Cleverbot took part in a Turing-type test and was perceived to be human by 59.3% of its testers (compared with a score of 63.3% human for the average human participant).

    You can play around with Cleverbot here.


    There are a few reasons why chatbots are now all the rage.

    First, technology to create a chatbot has become simple enough and cheap enough that they’re not just for hard core computer coders anymore. In fact, here’s a link to a video of a 7 year old boy creating a conversational chatbot.

    Second, tech industry giants, such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others have jumped into the game, bringing their massive audiences of users with them. In April 2016, Facebook launched its platform to make chatbots available to its 1 billion users on Messenger. By November, 34,000 chatbots had sprung into existence on Facebook Messenger.

    Third, people live on their smartphones and communicate primarily by messaging. Messaging apps have now surpassed social networks in terms of monthly actives user numbers. The numbers of users (as of January 2017) on messaging platform are mind-boggling:

    • Facebook Messenger: 1 billion people
    • WhatsApp: 1 billion people
    • WeChat: 846 million people
    • Skype: 300 million people
    • Snapchat: 300 million people
    • Viber: 249 million people

    (Source: Statista)


    Imagine the possibilities. A chatbot can engage a user in a conversation about most any topic. How about a chatbot that helps tenants understand their rights? Or how about a chatbot that can help you fill out a divorce petition by answering a few simple questions? Maybe you can use a chatbot to interview your clients for basic information so you don’t have to?

    I encourage you to create a chatbot yourself and play around with it. A great (and free) chatbot creation tool is Chatfuel, a simple as pie platform for creating Facebook Messenger bots.

    Here are some legal chatbots that are already challenging what we think possible:

    DoNotPay – Perhaps the most prolific robot lawyer, created by Stanford freshman Joshua Browder, has taken on 250,000 traffic ticket cases—winning 160,000 of them and saving drivers $4 million in fines since 2014. The service is free and also assists the homeless with claims to public housing.

    LawBot – “The world’s most advanced legal chatbot” launched by Cambridge University Law students Ludwig Bull, Rebecca Agliolo, Nadia Abdul, and Jozo Maruscak, LawBot asks users questions in order to figure out whether a crime was committed. This free service can currently address 26 different offences and just expanded into divorce.

    Robot Lawyer Lisa –  Founded by The Naked Lawyer author and UK lawyer Chrissie Lightfoot, Lisa is a free app aimed at helping entrepreneurs draw up non-disclosure agreements.

    LawDroid – Created by California lawyer Tom Martin, LawDroid is a chatbot, built on Facebook Messenger, can help entrepreneurs incorporate their business in for free, no lawyer required.

    Chatbots can be simple (rules based AI) or more complex (natural language processing and machine learning) and they’re only getting smarter!  

  • Legal Check Ups and Narrowing the Access to Justice Gap

    The conversation of access to justice is nothing new.  It’s been “trendy” for decades.    Recently, however, access to justice has become a buzz word with legal scholars and innovators.   The ABA’s Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services issued its report last fall.   It was a much anticipated analysis of the failures and promises of the legal profession to solve the access to justice gap.

    In a myriad of possible solutions to the access to justice problem, one concept has been reinvigorated by the ABA – the legal checkup.    The concept is not new.   The solution is not new.  In fact, legal checkups have been used in Europe and by some American referral systems for some time.  The ABA is encouraging or profession to follow suit.   As a result of the Future Commission’s report, a task force has been created to create a protocol, prototype or program for legal checkups.

    So how do legal checkups work?    The goal in my view of a successful legal checkup is to educate a consumer that they have a real legal need and then connect that consumer with a legal service provider.     Recent research suggests that most Americans do not even recognize a legal issue and when they do, they do not know where to find a lawyer.  A legal check up, with a few simple questions, can help a consumer recognize a legal issue.   Do you have a will?  Has your family status changed?   Do you plan to buy a home, car or boat in the next year?    Has your identity been compromised or stolen?   Have you received a creditor’s collection notice in the last three months?   Any of these situations can be resolved faster, better and easier with a lawyer because they are all legal issues.   A legal chekup with help a consumer recognize that these everyday situations are legal situations.    With additional questions, not more than 3 or 4, the legal checkup can help the consumer see their issue and know where to find relevant, experienced legal counsel and help.   It should not be difficult.

    The concept of legal checkups is not new to legal plans, or legal plan attorneys.   For decades legal plans and their provider attorneys have been asking consumers and clients questions to assist a client in recognizing a legal need.   Education and information is critical to solving the justice gap problem.     Connecting clients and attorneys is a real solution to a real problem.    Legal checkups, whether in the form of legal plans, or in a new initiative by the ABA, will educate consumers and create relationships.     The time has come for legal checkups to be recognized and promoted as a solution.

  • Listen to This! Have you Heard GLSA Has Great Educational Teleconferences?

    One of the best kept secrets of GLSA is its monthly teleconferences. As chair of the Education subcommittee, I have the pleasure of getting to talk with legal industry leaders, scholars, lawyers and experts from across the country in these amazing teleconferences.

    Here are a few of the teleconferences we’ve had over the past year:


    New Year’s Resolution for Better Business Practices

    Entitled “New Year’s Resolution for Better Business Practices ,” the teleconference included a panel discussion with Haley Bohlmann (ARAG), Matt Hahne (Virginia Beach bankruptcy attorney) and Raphael Vernassal (Rocket Lawyer), moderated by Tom Martin (LawDroid) and hosted by GLSA.

    Play Audio Below:

    Just a few of the topics covered during the 45 minutes panel discussion include:

    • How to improve your social media presence and stay active
    • Tactics and strategies for improving customer service
    • Organize your practice for efficiency and greater profits
    • Follow through on a commitment to leading a healthier lifestyle


    Renew Your GLSA 2017 Membership!

    One of GLSA’s New Year’s resolutions was to expand its member benefits toward the end of better serving its membership – which includes attorneys, trustees, legal plan administrators, legal technology entrepreneurs, and other individuals invested in law practice.  Now that we’re weeks into 2017, we’re following up on that resolution by fully apprising you of GLSA’s current membership benefits.

    Play Audio Below:

    Via teleconference, we had a chance to learn more about the valuable benefits you receive as a GLSA member directly from GLSA’s own president Keri Norris, president elect Jean Clauson and newer GLSA member Haley Bohlmann!


    How to Include Charity in Your Business with Kerry Lavelle

    Entitled “How to Include Charity in Your Business,” the teleconference included an interview of Kerry Lavelle (Lavelle Law) moderated by Tom Martin (LawDroid) and hosted by GLSA.

    Play Audio Below:

    Just a few of the topics that were addressed during the 45 minutes of Q&A include:

    • How to identify charitable opportunities in your community
    • Tactics and strategies for getting your charity drive off the ground
    • The 3 different ways your company can lead on social responsibility
    • Why charity is good for business and your bottom line


    How to Avoid Professional Burnout with Billie Tarascio

    Entitled “How to Avoid Professional Burnout,” the teleconference included an interview of Billie Tarascio (Modern Law) moderated by Tom Martin (LawDroid) and hosted by GLSA.

    Play Audio Below:

    Just a few of the topics that were addressed during the 45 minutes of Q&A include:

    • How to recognize professional burnout
    • Tactics and strategies for minimizing stress
    • The role of a healthy diet, exercise and sleep in reducing stress
    • Learning to ask for help and rely on a network of support


    Back to the Future of Legal Services with Nicolle Schippers and Dan Lear

    Entitled “Back to the Future of Legal Services,” the teleconference included an interview of Nicolle Schippers (ARAG) and Dan Lear (AVVO) moderated by Tom Martin (LawDroid) and hosted by GLSA.

    Play Audio Below:

    Just a few of the topics that were addressed during the 45 minutes of Q&A include:

    • The most interesting opportunities for lawyers in the digital future
    • Overcoming obstacles to the adoption of legal technology
    • Risks to lawyers posed by innovations to come over the next 10 years
    • The role of non-lawyer innovators in the future of legal services

  • New Year’s Resolution for Better Business Practices

    Entitled “New Year’s Resolution for Better Business Practices ,” the teleconference included a panel discussion with Haley Bohlmann (ARAG), Matt Hahne (Virginia Beach bankruptcy attorney) and Raphael Vernassal (Rocket Lawyer), moderated by Tom Martin (LawDroid) and hosted by GLSA.

    Play Audio Below:

    Just a few of the topics covered during the 45 minutes panel discussion include:

    • How to improve your social media presence and stay active
    • Tactics and strategies for improving customer service
    • Organize your practice for efficiency and greater profits
    • Follow through on commitment to leading a healthier lifestyle

    Group Legal Services Association (GLSA), an affiliate of the American Bar Association, is a professional membership organization representing the legal services plan industry. GLSA is committed to providing individuals, plans, unions, employers, and provider attorneys with access to information involving all phases of the legal plan industry.

  • Why attorneys should become legal plan providers


    We have all heard about the future of legal services.  Change may have already impacted our law firms to varying decrees.   To deny the changes would be to deny reality. Lawyers had a monopoly on legal delivery when legal expertise was the sole element.  We have heard about Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLT_ and Navigators. These are not theoretical but already exist in some states.   About 80% of Americans who need a lawyer can’t afford one. This is despite the country having a surplus of attorneys on tap.  Something is wrong with the design and continuation of this system for both lawyers and clients.

    We have heard about artificial intelligence.  Law firms should consider the power of AI (Ross) in order to serve justice. But how can we do this alone?  Insurance Adjustors are already being replaced by AI.   There is already Robo advice when buying insurance.  There are already Chat Bots to guide individuals in decision making.  There are free legal documents online at state sponsored sites.  The travel and taxi cab industries have been dramatically redesigned by automation and tech changes.  Are lawyers next?


    Did we want to make a lot of money?  Did we want the respect? Do we love justice?  Do we continue to lose sleep at night worrying about clients and fair treatment? Then we must hate limited access to justice and injustice.  We may not be able to solve everything but we can have a substantial impact on the legal system.


    There are great partners out there that have been around for a while.  They are Legal Plans.

    Legal plans provide a tremendous way to provide access to justice and involve attorneys.  As attorneys we need to match up with new clients.  Without clients what good can we do? There can be a tremendous flow of clients from legal plans if attorneys are responsive, efficient, creative, caring and love justice.

    Some attorneys procure their clients by being active on boards, advertising, and word of mouth.  Legal plans are another way to procure a stream of paying clients.

    I suggest that if you have not done so, you consider being a legal plan provider. It will force you to be efficient in developing good systems, including case management software, document automation, and objectively measuring your Key Performance Indicators.  Clients will come to you.  These are clients that you would not have been allowed to serve without the legal plan and also may be clients that would not have had access to justice but for the legal plans.

    I suggest that the collaboration among other legal plan providers, legal plan administrators, and others including tech professionals can help attorneys with their own bottom line.  You will be able to join the movement in delivering access to justice along with state of the art, best practices legal representation.

    You will get paid timely for your services.  You will have referrals both from satisfied legal plan members and legal plans.  Some of these referrals will be for public clients- those with no legal plan affiliations.  Your systems and efficiency’s will equally apply to public clients.  You will get paid for your services.  To help solve the access of justice concern, the traditional response by lawyers is that we spend some time on pro bono work each year.  Legal Plans are another way, and I suggest more effective.

    To encourage efficiencies and responsiveness for each lawyer and to be client centric is good for the profession.  To collaborate and share ideas and systems with like-minded lawyers and non-lawyers including tech professionals is invaluable.

    We as attorneys are in the best position to see what wording in documents is most effective in our respective and fragmented Court Systems.   We must take the time to insure our documents and forms are drafted adeptly.  The time spent in developing these systems promotes justice.

    Access to justice is much talked about but, this really works.  This is a great expanding movement to be a part of and one where we can boost our profession toward the noblest of aspirations.

    Make a living so that we support ourselves and our family is important. Legal services delivery requires legal, technological and process expertise. Tech and process savvy providers, with client centric models will continue to expand.  This involves much more than and individual lawyer can offer without assistance and collaboration. Do not become an alternative provider, but one that is sought out first.


    I urge you to check out the Group Legal Services Associations, not only for your bottom line and profitability, but for the promotion of justice and our profession.


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