What makes it so difficult for some lawyers to embrace technology? Fear, confusion, and that feeling that they just can’t ever catch up create a wall that many attorneys can’t seem to break down. Dennis and Tom bring on Amani Smathers, another “fresh voice,” to learn how she encourages technology adoption among legal professionals. She also covers the AI hype, her favorite collaboration tools, her unique niche in legal tech, and more!
As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for the answers to your most burning tech questions.
Intro: Got the world turning as fast as it can? Hear how technology can help, legally speaking, with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers. Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to episode 344 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode, we discussed the current and still rapidly changing state of generative AI in the Legal Tech world, with me responding to Tom’s challenge not to be all optimistic and instead to be more realistic about the topic and its prospects. In this episode, we have another very special guest in our Fresh Voices series. In Fresh Voices, we want to showcase different and compelling perspectives on Legal Tech and much more. We have another fabulous guest. Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis, in this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, we are thrilled to continue our Fresh Voices on Legal Tech interview series with Amani Smathers, Innovation Solutions Manager at Chapman and Cutler, Adjunct Professor at Michigan State University College of Law, one of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech, and so much more. We want our Fresh Voices series to not only introduce you to terrific leaders in the Legal Tech space but also provide you with their perspective on the things you ought to be paying attention to in Legal Tech and otherwise. As usual, we’re going to finish up with our parting shots. That one tip website or observation that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over but first up, we are so pleased to welcome Amani Smathers to our Fresh Voices series. Amani, welcome to the Kennedy-Mighell Report.
Amani Smathers: Thank you, it’s great to be here with you guys.
Tom Mighell: Before we get started, can you tell our audience a little bit more about you? Tell us about your role at Chapman and Cutler. What you do at Michigan State University School of Law?
Amani Smathers: Yeah, I’d love to. So, I am the Innovation Solutions Manager at Chapman and Cutler. It’s a firm focused on the financial services clients and we have a group called Chapman Practice Innovations and this group is dedicated to what’s actually a strategic initiative at the firm that they call Working Smarter. So, we get to use technology, use alternative staffing and process improvement to help the firm work smarter, apply technology to provide more modern legal services to our clients. And this is my third big law firm, previously was at Seyfarth Shaw in their Seyfarth Lean Group and at Davis Wright Tremaine in their De Novo Group. And I also work with Dennis now at Michigan State College of Law and I am an Adjunct Instructor. I teach a business of law course called Delivering Legal Services New Legal Landscape, which is great, because I get to teach students things that they don’t get from a lot of the other doctrinal courses about what the markets for legal services actually look like and what some of the players look like in this space and help them learn about some multidisciplinary skills that they can use in their practice to make them more client friendly and modern legal service provider.
Dennis Kennedy: Amani as you know from our many conversations, sometimes I get a little frustrated with how difficult it still is to explain technology, both old and new technologies and its benefits to those in the legal profession. You are actually really great at this and you have a style and approach that I like, and you use visuals, charts, graphics, just exceptionally well. Would you talk about your approach to communicating with lawyers and others in the legal profession about technology, both inside and maybe even outside your current job?
Amani Smathers: Well, I do like visuals because I think I’m a visual learner and so I know that when I’m trying to learn a new concept, it’s very helpful to me if I can have some kind of visual to attach that concept to. I think 10 years ago when people are talking about blockchain, I had the hardest time because no one would provide a visual, like I wanted to see an interface or even code or something, and people just talked about it at a very high level and so when I teach, when I talk to people, I like to provide visuals. I know not everyone learns that way, but it’s helpful for me. And I will probably try to talk through some visuals in this podcast, so maybe we’ll have some show notes that will help there too. Yeah, I do like using visuals and data visualizations but I think another helpful communication tool in general when talking about technology and any kind of change management is always starting with why.
I know, Dennis, you talk about this too but not really jumping into, “Oh, hey, this is cool technology”. But really starting with a problem statement or an opportunity statement and it really grounding kind of everyone on what we’re talking about, why it matters, and building from there. And you’ll get a lot more, I think, interest and buy in that way.
Tom Mighell: So when we talk about technology and lawyers, I know Dennis is going to ask you at some point about the T-shaped lawyer. You’ve talked about the class you’re teaching at MSU. Obviously, there’s a technology component to that as well. We like to ask our Fresh Voices guests kind of about the duty of technology competence and where it stands right now and we tend to be the grumpy old men on the lawn bemoaning the fact that competence is not where we think it ought to be but we like to get fresh perspectives on that. So what is your view of the current state of technology competence? Where do you see it now with the lawyers maybe you’re working with or that you see out in other places and maybe what is your view for how that might change in the future?
Amani Smathers: Yeah, so many of your listeners are probably very familiar with the duty of tech competence, right? Model Rule 1.1, Common 8 to maintain competence, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology. So that comment has been adopted by over 2/3 of states now, and we have a large enough profession that I would say we have the full spectrum, right? So this is a visual that we’ll have to talk through, but if you can imagine a bell curve, you may already be familiar with the Roger’s diffusion of innovation adoption curve, but it says there’s a bell curve of how people adopt technology, right? You have a small amount on the first side of the bell curve of innovators who adopt things really fast and then you have early adopters, and then you have the early majority kind of approaching the middle of that bell curve, and then you have the late majority in the laggards. So each group of those people have different characteristics that make them more or less likely to adopt something quickly. And I think in the legal industry, we have that full spectrum. I would say my current firm, we’re early adopters, maybe even edging towards the innovators but innovators are people who will, like they like the new shiny thing, and they will get it because it’s new and it’s cool. So some of the press releases you see from law firms that have adopted something before they even have use cases for it, that’s like the innovators on the technology adoption curve.
Tom Mighell: That’s good.
Amani Smathers: And then the early adopters — cool. Yeah, the early adopters are like, “Okay, we want a competitive advantage. We’re going to do this where it makes sense before other people do, and we’ll get that first mover advantage.” And then you have your early adopters who watch the other two groups and say, “Oh, yeah, I see that’s useful. We should get that.” And then the late adopters, they’re like the people who see it at Costco, right? Like it’s so easy to get that you almost have to get it, it’s so easy, and it’s already been proven for all of its use cases. Then you have the laggards. And I honestly think, just like you see on the diffusion curve, that the laggards are a minority. So I don’t actually think in the legal industry that we have a majority of laggards. I think they’re a minority and I work with a firm, like I said, I think we’re on the early adopters side but you do hear about laggards sometimes, or people who don’t fully take their due diligence to learn about technology and those are the ones you’ll hear about, right? We have a couple two cases I’m aware of lawyers that came up with fake cases that they cited in actual filed motions with courts. But I don’t think that’s the majority, right? It’s the ones we hear about but I think where we are and where we’re going is just we see it kind of follow that adoption curve. There are lots of lawyers who are early adopters, are early majority, and I don’t know that that’s ever going to — you now, I think that’s just a natural way that technology filters through a large group of people.
Tom Mighell: So Amani, you’re known for bringing business approaches from adjacent fields into law practice, and you still might be best known for your article on T-shaped lawyers. By the way, I just saw someone else the other day talk about the T-shaped lawyer as if he had invented it and not cite to your article. So it’s not just AI that overlooks cases or articles and references, it’s humans do that as well.
But could you talk about T-shaped lawyer as one approach to look at the full skill set of lawyers and then maybe touch on how technology might fit into that T-shaped skill set?
Amani Smathers: Sure, and I’m the first to say that I did not invent the T-shaped professional concept. That was something that was developed back in the 90s with IDO and IBM. They were some of the first organizations that talked a lot about T-shaped professionals and what they were recognizing was that, we have sometimes people in many professions that become experts in their field but to be really good problem solvers and to provide holistic services to clients, one field doesn’t necessarily cover all of the potential solutions or even departments within an organization. So they talked about developing a T-shaped professional, which is someone who has very deep domain expertise in their area, their discipline, and then also has a broad but narrower range of disciplines that they know something about, maybe enough to be dangerous, but actually enough to collaborate with experts in those fields. So, I heard about this, actually, a conference at MSU. IBM was talking about the T-shaped professional and it made so much sense to me that that also applied to lawyers. So, yes, back in 2014, I applied it at a Reinvent Law Conference and also in an ABA Article and talked about what it would look like to be a T-shaped lawyer, right? To have deep legal expertise that you can apply to solving clients’ legal problems, but also have the bar of the T at the top, having some knowledge of technology, process improvement, business skills, data analytics, even security, right? .And if you’re a solo or a small firm lawyer, honestly, you wear so many hats, you do need some expertise in a lot of those different areas, and maybe less so as a lawyer in a bigger firm where you can supervise others that specialize in those fields but again, the idea is that you know enough to be able to apply those disciplines to more holistic service, delivery and problem solving and provide a better overall service to your clients.
Tom Mighell: So listeners of this podcast will recognize and know how much Dennis and I like to talk about collaboration technologies, and also about the fact that collaboration is probably not discussed often enough in the legal profession or with law firms, even though they’re collaborating a lot with themselves, with colleagues, with clients, with anybody. So we like to get opinions of other people who are out there using technology with lawyers. And let me ask you, what are your favorite ways to collaborate? Whether that’s with your coworkers, whether it’s with colleagues, with other groups, the favorite ways to collaborate, or favorite tools that you use to collaborate.
Amani Smathers: So, having been at three firms and worked with some of my clients’ technology as well, I find that I can use what they have, right? Start with what you have. I do personally like Slack. I like the threaded conversations and the emojis and all of that, but I can certainly collaborate without it as well. One of my favorite tools, though, is a meeting type. So I really like Scrums. If you’re familiar with the Agile methodology and some of the meetings that they have, a Scrum is a 15 minutes meeting with teams — with people who are actually doing the work and everybody goes around, and in like minute or two says. So what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today, and if they have any blockers, you don’t necessarily have any conversation, you just go through that, and it gets, and I like to start the day with it so it gets people thinking, reflecting on what they did yesterday and also planning ahead a little bit — and it gets everyone kind of on the same page of what’s happening and again, clearing those blockers. So I’ve done this with technical teams. I’ve also known some of the project managers I work with to do it with legal teams and the associates and the partners found it very helpful as well. For associates, it meant for at least those 15 minutes they knew that they could like bring up any blockers or questions that they had for the partner right there in the morning but I think it is important, again, you don’t, like address them during the Scrum, you address them afterwards.
Like you can have the conversations, the follow-up conversations afterwards to make it so it really is like a 15 minutes meeting or less but I also implemented that with a team of document automation specialists that I led at DWT. And it was the way I started every day and it was great to lead a team that way. So that’s one of the tools that I love to use for collaboration is just that 15 minutes Scrum meeting.
Tom Mighell: I use Scrum a lot with our clients if they choose to use it, if that’s the methodology that they want to use and I will say that unless you can run it effectively, if you can run it effectively, it’s a great collaboration tool, but run ineffectively. It is such a drain on productivity because I’ve had teams who have gotten it so wrong that it just feels like such a drag to have to do it every single day. So —
Amani Smathers: I second that.
Tom Mighell: You got to know how to do it, but no, it’s a terrific tool.
Amani Smathers: Yes.
Tom Mighell: All right, we have more questions for Amani, but before we do that, we’re going to take a break for a quick word from our sponsors.
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Dennis Kennedy: And we are back with Amani Smathers, Innovation Solutions Manager at Chapman and Cutler. Amani, what is happening right now in legal tech that really excites you or seems to have the most potential? And how might these technologies, or I guess even process improvements impact legal education as well as the law practice? It’s okay if you’re — to me at least maybe not to Tom if your answer is generative AI, but it might not be.
Amani Smathers: My answer is not particularly technology at all. So hopefully that’s allowed.
Dennis Kennedy: Yes.
Amani Smathers: But the most exciting thing to me in kind of the legal innovation space right now are the changes to lawyer regulation and that being kind of piloted in Utah and Arizona and that will have effects on the technology that is used in legal service delivery by law firms that are operating in those sandboxes and also by law companies. So having different options for who can deliver legal services, what type of business structures multidisciplinary at these different types of organizations will allow law firms and law firms to adopt technology, invest in technology but also invest in just different ways of delivering those legal services that I think are going to benefit clients, but also potentially legal service providers, lawyers and non-lawyers who work in this space.
Tom Mighell: Well, I’m glad you answered the question the way that you did because sometimes our guests answer that question where they do talk about generative AI, which takes away my question, and I’m glad that you didn’t do that. So I am going to talk about generative AI here because I feel like we kind of have to. I mean, I hate the fact that we do this on every podcast, but it’s the thing. So I do want to ask the question to you. So, a lot of hype lately. Very highest hype cycle I’ve seen, except for maybe Threads, the debut of Threads over the past week but ChatGPT, generative AI getting so much hype, like you said lawyers are using it maybe in very inappropriate ways. Big companies are starting to purchase other companies for the purpose of using it. Where do you see this going? What role do you see tools like ChatGPT and their progeny playing in legal technology?
Amani Smathers: Yes, I’m glad you talked about hype. So the latest LLM models are, I think, the biggest tech advancement I’ve seen in my decade in Legal Tech, so that’s exciting, right? And yes, it does feel like we skyrocketed right up to the top of the peak of inflated expectations, right? If you’re talking about the Gartner Hype Cycle, we’re about eight months pass the main stream launch of ChatGPT back on November 2022, like eight months.
And it’s felt like this mad space race for every tech vendor to incorporate LLMs into their platform and I get it. I mean, they are fielding questions from customers, they don’t want to get left behind on this new competitive landscape but it has moved so quickly that I think many of them, you know, those applications are maybe half-baked to be honest or not that very helpful features but they need it to put it in and I think as more users try out the solutions, we might then find ourselves again, I’m talking about the Gartner Hype Cycle coming down from that peak of inflated expectations into the trough of the solution soon as well, right? And that’s because generative AI is not necessarily the answer to every legal or business challenge. It may be can’t do everything that everyone says it can at the level everyone’s promising and so, I don’t know, one example, if a corporation has a standard form contract that they’ve blessed, and they want to adhere to, letting GPT like riff on that form with its, sampling if you ask it for the same thing multiple times, you might not get the same answer, it might result in different edits, different redlines each time — not so — might not necessarily be the way that the legal team wants that to go. And it might still be that you default back to an old fashioned document automation that customizes the form based on pre-set expert system’s rules, right?
And so, that’s where we will get to past the trough of disillusionment to that slope of enlightenment, right? Where the market finds the real best case uses for the technology. And people get here at different times, I’m sure. But yeah, my team is experimenting with LLM enhanced tools for contract analysis and tools for other tasks in transactional law practice and you know, we’re playing with some homegrown tools, and also with vendor created tools and still in that experimentation and evaluation stage. But I do — I have no doubt that it will augment our legal teams going forward in some ways once we answer some of those questions around, how do you do it securely? How do you put those guardrails around it so that you get less — if you are asking at questions that you get less of those hallucinations and also answers that you’d expect. And I think people will also have to get used to understanding that maybe its answers are like a first year associate, faster, but not necessarily — it’s a large language model, right? It’s giving your answers that sound good and are based on information it could find. It doesn’t necessarily have a model or experience of the world and so you often — for some tasks unlikely to get you know, partner level understanding. Especially if you’re bringing — trying to bring together like, knowledge of a client and also knowledge of the document that you feed into it. So, there’s so much more learning to be done by folks like my team who are trying to actually apply it and see where it’s going to make the most sense for that slope of enlightenment. And yeah, it will be — it will absolutely be a part of tools going forward. And we’re still finding those best use cases and guardrails.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I mean it’s interesting because you know, Amani I’m looking at how to incorporate AI into what we’re doing at the Center for Law Technology and Innovation next year and I really have modest plans because I think we’re in such an experimental stage and people are being promised so much and I think the promises are based on some of the — probably the hardest problems for this type of AI to solve and maybe even some problems that are inappropriate for this particular type of AI to solve. But one of the other things I’m doing at the Center as you know, I’ve launched something, soft launched it — do a little more formal launch — something I called the NewLegal, that’s one word, on NewLegal Careers Platform and you are clearly a pioneer in what I call NewLegal Careers, in fact you’re sort of the prototype I had. And your career paths so far, is really interesting and I think it’s what will be instructed for our listeners who want to consider the new possibilities out there in legal careers to hear your story from law school to where you are now and the types of roles that you had. Could you just talk a little bit about that?
Amani Smathers: Sure. So, you used the term career path, and I was joking once with Professor Bill Henderson that it — less of a defined path and more like some trampled grass across the fields that I was following, right?
There wasn’t necessarily — there were some people who had walked this way before but not enough to have made an actual path, you know? There’s very different than folks that go through summer interviews, get their summer associate, associate, you know, senior associate partner, that is a known path and it was also somewhat known to me that it was a path that I didn’t particular want to take.
So, when I was at MSU, I was extremely lucky to overlap with two associate professors, Daniel Martin Katz and Renee Knake Jefferson who were just starting what they called the reinvent law laboratory for law technology design and delivery. And they talked about a couple things that really rang true for me even then, you know, they did talk about the challenges the law firms were having during The Great Recession and the fact that some of those old paths maybe weren’t quite what they once were and that there were so many opportunities if you looked beyond those paths. And, they were interested in helping law students you know, learn more about multidisciplinary skills and bring in tools like design delivery models and data to modernize this delivery of legal services. And I didn’t want to work too much in a profession that seemed totally like, decades behind every other profession and I was interested in these areas so, I took courses with them and I also worked with them per year, putting on some conferences and then through networking through reinvent law, I met some folks at Seyfarth and Seyfarth was really a pioneer with project management and process improvement in legal and I was extremely lucky to make those connections and move on to my role at Seyfarth where I got a really good basis in lien methodology, process improvement, and focusing on that you know, interests and what’s current state, what’s future state like, what are the areas in future — in our current state that are wasteful, you know, holding us back or inefficient and how do we get to that future state. So, back then, I know it was extremely common to talk about law firm innovation with people process and technology and I also say that I’ve been very lucky to have worked at three firms that focused on all three of those and each one stressed a different one. So Seyfarth, I think was extremely strong on that process improvement and from there, using that as a basis than pulling in people solutions or technology solutions once you had assessed your process, your problems, defines — had a definition of success and then we’re moving on to implementing solutions.
That was a really wonderful foundation for the rest of my career and when I moved on to Davis Wright Tremaine, I’d say, their particular strength was often in the people solutions. So, they had a group called Surge led by Jenny Chen and as part of that, I got to work with really great clients and great client relationships and was able to build a team of document automation specialist that got to work on some legal operations, challenges with those clients. And we had some great kind of, people options for solutions and then now, at Chapman and Cutler, I work with a fantastic team that’s really focused most on the technology pieces so, when I was looking at the team in Chapman and Cutler, I was so impressed that they had built a tool, a closing binder tool that they actually sold to NetDocs, a technology company. And this is a team that can kind of proactively identify areas where something is harder that it should be or we don’t have the right tool for X. And if it’s not in the market, we can look at building it. And so, we have great talent. Both on the legal side, our innovation partner and folks like myself (00:29:38) who can connect the legal side with the technical side. And that’s been a lot of fun so far. It’s also given me the opportunity during COVID years to work some document automation projects for legal aid organizations on a pro bono basis and that has been a highlight of my career as well. So, I’ve been lucky.
Yeah, we make our own luck. We find those opportunities but I’ve certainly been lucky as well to work with some great professionals that I’ve learned a lot from. And when I was deciding 10 years ago whether I wanted to go this route, I remember talking to Renee at MSU and asking her, should I be an associate first? Should I go that route? I’m sure I could, like I was a good student. I passed the bar. I could go that route. I knew I didn’t really want to. I didn’t really want to be a lawyer for that long. But especially at law schools, they want you to be a lawyer. They want you to have a JD required job, because that’s part of the law school metrics, right? Like, their ratings are higher if their students go into JD required positions. And a lot of the other advice I’d gotten was, “Oh, no one will take you seriously if you don’t have that experience first and you’ll have so much more credibility.” And you know, she recognized that idea, but also asked me kind of looking forward 10 years, if you start in this position now, you would be senior in this position in 10 years, right? You could build a niche and expertise and already kind of be a senior in that role, or you can start as associate and get some of that experience first-hand. But then if this is really what you want to do, you’d be kind of trying to sidestep in a few years and not have that same kind of senior expertise in the role that you want to be in.
So that was helpful advice that kind of allowed me to feel better about kind of jumping straight into a legal innovation team at Seyfarth and I have worked in three big law firms, and so I’ve definitely had that experience of working with legal teams and working with legal operations teams in legal departments and building that context for the last 10 years but I’m glad I went that direction kind of knowing that’s where I wanted to end up and just going straight into it to build that niche for myself.
Tom Mighell: Well, that’s an awesome answer. It was so complete. It was great. We still have more questions for Amani, but we need to take a quick bait for a word from our sponsors, and then we’ll be back.
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Dennis Kennedy: And let’s get back to the Kennedy Meyer report. I’m Dennis Kennedy.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell, and we’re joined by our special guest, Amani Smathers at Chapman and Cutler. We’ve got time for just a few more questions and the question I want to ask is kind of the last question that I like to ask all of our Fresh Voices guests. And I call it the best advice question, and I like to frame it. Can you share with us the best advice around technology or whatever either you’ve been given or that you are giving or both that our listeners might take away and find something useful?
Amani Smathers: Absolutely. So, regarding legal innovation, a very important lesson that I’ve learned and like to pass on is that when measuring a new process, it does not have to be perfect to be better. So, I’ve heard this expressed a number of ways. I heard Susskind, Richard Susskind, talk about this when he was discussing his online courts book. It stuck with me. He said that, “In the name of justice, people miss the opportunity to reduce injustice.” So again, the test of a new solution should not be whether it’s perfect, which is an impossible standard anyway, but whether it’s better than the status quo.
Dan Katz, my professor at MSU, used to say, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” So, again, you know, if you’re working on that future state solution, and if naysayers can poke holes in the solution, say, “It’s not perfect.” The solution that is better than the status quo can still very much be worth working towards, right? It’s better. It’s an improvement. So that is kind of the idea of continuous improvement. Very rarely can we improve something straight to perfection. So just remember that better than the status quo, the goalpost, not perfection.
Dennis Kennedy: Cool, yeah, I was just thinking about continuous improvement and what it looked like earlier today in connection with something I’m doing. So, I have the question that since Tom names his — I’m thinking about naming mine is, “Can you help Dennis do some work for free question?” And, so it goes like this who are the Fresh Voices in Legal Tech that you might like to signal out and see as part of our Fresh Voices series.
Amani Smathers: Yeah, I’ll name two. One is Anna Carpenter, who’s a professor at the University of Utah College of Law and founder of the Justice Lab. I don’t think I’ve met her in person, but during COVID, I got to hear her speak on a number of webinars. I found her incredibly insightful, and sometimes I was, like, in vehement agreement with things that she was saying. So, I’ve added her to my list of people who I’m always interested in hearing more of what they have to say. And then the second person is Carmin Ballou, who’s Vice President of Data Analytics Innovation at ALAS, the lawyer owned mutual insurance company and she has a really interesting role using data analytics for risk management for law firms and she’s very — you know, as a part of a lawyer malpractice insurance company, she’s very interested in lawyers following their professional responsibility when it comes to technology and data, and I also always find her very insightful.
Dennis Kennedy: You know, it’s interesting. I was at two law firms earlier in my career that were ALAS Law Firms, and I just always associate ALAS with innovation and sort of prevention in really positive ways and new approaches.
Tom Mighell: All right, well, we want to thank Ms. Amani Smathers for being a guest on the show. Amani, before we go, can you let people know where they can learn more about what you’re doing and how to get in touch with you, that sort of thing?
Amani Smathers: Sure, I think these days the best place to find me is just on LinkedIn. So, my name there is the initial R. Amani Smathers. And you can also find me if you Google my name, Amani Smathers. Find my website with a little bit more information about me as well.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, thank you so much, Amani. You were a fantastic guest, as I knew you would be. Great information, great advice. I love the story of your career tamped down grass as opposed to path, which is probably similar to mine in more ways than people might expect. So, I also want to thank you for all you’ve done for your students at Michigan State, especially your care and concern in the continuing aftermath of the mass shooting event at MSU last February. I appreciated that immensely, and I also appreciated our conversations shortly after that happened was very valuable to me. Now it’s time for our parting shots at one tip(ph) website or observation that you can use the second this podcast ends. Amani, take it away.
Amani Smathers: So my parting shot is to take a walk. Science has shown that walking can actually increase our creativity. There was a Stanford study that showed it can increase it by up to 60% just walking. One explanation might be that it uses both the left side and right side of our brain. Other ways, it just kind of gets us out of whatever else we were working on when we were sitting down. I know a lot of us are knowledge workers. We’re at the computer every day, all day long but I start my day with a walk and it’s a wonderful way to get those creative problem-solving brain patterns going.
Tom Mighell: You know, it’s funny, I walk the dog several times a week and I usually listen to podcasts, but for some reason my brain wants to work on problems and not really listen to the podcast. And I always come away from a walk —
Amani Smathers: Yeah.
Tom Mighell: With a good idea and not remembering anything about the podcast that I was listening to. So 100% on that. I have a sneaking suspicion that Dennis is going to mention ChatGPT in his parting shot because that would be on par for him. So I’m going to cut to the chase and I’m going to beat him to that. Winner to the punch, I guess, is the metaphor I was looking for. And I will say that I was interested to find, we’ve talked about on this podcast the fact that Microsoft 365 is going to start introducing a lot of generative AI tools in its suite.
They’re calling it Copilot and they have started; I’ve noticed out in the wild the first instance of Copilot, which is part of Power Automate. So, if you’re familiar with Power Automate used to be called Flow, the tool that you can use to create workflows between applications both in Microsoft 365 or other locations. It now has a little window that pops up as you are creating it that says use Copilot to either help create your flow or help make the flow you are creating better. So you can have conversations with it, you can add information. I’m just getting started so I can’t exactly tell you how it works, but I’m excited to use it. If you’re interested in seeing how Copilot is going to be deployed in Microsoft 365, here is your first chance, Dennis.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, Tom, I’m literally astounded at the accuracy of your predictions of my parting shots when they’re in the script right in front of you.
Tom Mighell: Stunning.
Dennis Kennedy: It’s amazing.
Tom Mighell: Stunning.
Dennis Kennedy: So, you know, I’m intrigued with co-counsel in a way that you might not expect and that is I think that once the AI gets built into the Microsoft Suite, I think it’s a game changer on everybody who’s trying to set a policy on AI. I just think it’s going to make them rethink everything they’ve thought before because it’s going to be right there at hand and built into the tools people use every day so that’s an aside. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with ChatGPT and I’ve been talking to people about it and I’ve especially been using it on the productivity side. And so, I’ve had some people talk me into doing an ask me anything free webinar that I’ll probably do in early mid-August about some of the ways that I use ChatGPT to enhance productivity and to use it personally. So watch my LinkedIn for details on that and I’m planning to just go right into what I do, what the benefits are, the jobs to be done that I’m trying to accomplish, and the actual use cases that I think make sense for doing things that are right in front of you. And that to me, is actually one of the most exciting parts of the large language models and the tools that we have. Isn’t that like legal research and these big things? It’s like, what are the simple things that this can really help me with? And the biggest one of those to preview is, I think it really helps with the blank page in front of you, problem.
Tom Mighell: All right. So that wraps it up for this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. You can find show notes for this episode and others on the Legal Talk Network’s page for this podcast. You can find all of our previous podcasts with transcripts on the Legal Talk Network website. If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can reach out to us on LinkedIn infrequently or less frequently. Actually, don’t reach out to me on Twitter anymore. I am now spending more time on threads than on Twitter or remember, leave us a voicemail. We love to get your questions for our B segment that voicemail number is (720) 441-6820. So, until the next podcast, I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy, and you’ve been listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on Legal Technology with an internet focus. As always, a big thank you to the Legal Talk Network team for producing and distributing the podcast and we’ll see you next time for another episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
Male: Thanks for listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together,’ from ABA Books or Amazon and join us every other week for another edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report only on the Legal Talk network.