Andrew Rossow is an Associate Attorney at Gregory M. Gantt Co. LPA where, in addition to their general practice,...
Elan is a traveler, a problem-solver, and a thinker. He recently moved to NYC to launch his startup, Gideon,...
Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business...
At this point, you can’t avoid the millennials. As they enter the legal workforce, it’s important to understand their mindset and what they’ll bring with them. In this episode of The Legal Toolkit, host Jared Correia talks to Drew Rossow and Elan Fields about their millennial perspective of the legal industry. Their discussion includes technology, access to justice, machine learning, and unbundled legal services. They also talk about current trends that are affecting law practices, including cybersecurity and law school innovation courses.
Andrew Rossow is an Associate Attorney at Gregory M. Gantt Co. LPA where Drew’s passion lies in the areas of Cyberspace Law and Intellectual Property Law.
Elan Fields recently launched his startup, Gideon, a mission-driven legal technology company which leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to help lawyers.
The Legal Toolkit
How Millennials View the Legal Industry
Laurence Colletti: Hello listeners. It’s Laurence Colletti, Executive Producer of Legal Talk Network. I want to tell you about one of our longest running and most informative shows, The Digital Edge. Each month our expert hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway talk with renowned authors, speakers and legal technology gurus about tools, tips and tricks for running a successful legal practice.
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Intro: Welcome to Legal Toolkit, bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm, with your host Jared Correia. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jared Correia: Hey there. Welcome to what promises to be yet another fantastic episode of the Legal Toolkit here on Legal Talk Network. If you were looking for the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Convention, I am sorry, you are really nerdy.
If you are a returning listener, welcome back. If you are a first time listener, hopefully you will become a longtime listener. And if you are the ghost of Rod Serling, you know I need to stop binge watching old Twilight Zone episodes on Netflix. Curse you Netflix and chill.
As always, I am your host Jared Correia and in addition to casting this pod, I am the Founder and CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law practice management consulting and technology services for law firms. Check us out at HYPERLINK “redcavelegal.com” redcavelegal.com to learn more. You can also buy my book ‘Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers’ from the American Bar Association, on iTunes, at Amazon, and probably at Rizzoli & Isles Books in Manhattan.
Here on The Legal Toolkit we provide you each month with a new tool to add to your own legal toolkit, so that your practices will become more and more like best practices. In this episode we are going to talk about how the state of the legal field looks to Millennials. Millennials being young people that I have literally no connection to, but we are going to do this anyway.
But before I introduce today’s guests, let’s take a moment to thank our sponsors.
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So today just for you, yes, you Richard, I have invited Drew Rossow and Elan Fields in to talk with me. First, Drew Rossow is an Associate Attorney at Gregory M. Gantt Co., LPA, where in addition to their general practice, Drew’s passion lies in the areas of cyberspace law and intellectual property law.
He is a native of Dallas, Texas and a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law. He received his bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business in Hempstead, New York. Drew is also a contributor for the Huffington Post and writes on several different areas in cyberspace and tech law.
You can contact him on his website at HYPERLINK “http://www.dayton-lawyers.net” www.dayton-lawyers.net and/or follow his official Facebook page at HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/drossowlaw” www.facebook.com/drossowlaw. Oh, you have an official Facebook page, that’s impressive Drew. Can I head up your fan club?
Andrew Rossow: Possibly.
Jared Correia: Oh, all right, send me the application form. I also heard you were a Star Wars fan, so we threw that in there for you, just for you at the beginning.
Andrew Rossow: Thank you sir. Thank you sir.
Jared Correia: Elan Fields is a traveler, a problem-solver and a thinker. He recently moved to New York City to launch his startup, Gideon, a mission-driven legal technology company that leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to help lawyers modernize their legal practices, enabling them to operate at their highest quality and capacity and ensuring that clients get accurate and personalized care. And I am assuming that’s named after the Gideon vs. Wainwright case and not some random dude named Gideon.
Elan has also investigated issues regarding access to justice in the civil legal system as a Watson Scholar and at StartingBloc as a Fellow since early 2016. Before that, he worked as a Fellow on Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign. Sorry about that my friend. He has also successfully bootstrapped a buy-sell-trade automotive business, organized a cross-country tour promoting sustainable fuels, traveled around the globe immersing himself in divergent communities and cultures, and volunteered with impact focused initiatives. Did a whole hell of a lot more than I did when I was in my mid-20s, but my question Elan is can you fix my car?
Elan Fields: Of course.
Jared Correia: Nice. This is good. So now I know who I am going to my next Star Wars Convention with and I have got somebody to fix my car. Beautiful.
So welcome to the show guys. Drew and Elan, it’s great to have you on.
Andrew Rossow: Thanks for having me.
Elan Fields: Thanks for having us.
Jared Correia: All right, so let’s jump into it here. A lot of people talk about how the legal industry has an old white guy problem and like I am one to talk, if you haven’t noticed there are a lot of old white dudes who practice law. So I decided to solve that problem by interviewing two young white guys. I know, I know we are getting there, but in all seriousness and here’s a teaser also, I am working on a show about diversity in the legal field, it’s just not this one.
So today we have Drew, who is a lawyer and Elan, who is a non-lawyer, who sells services to lawyers. They are both young, they are in their 20s, and they don’t get any of my cultural references or at least not a lot of them. And so what they are here to do is to give the Millennials perspective on the legal industry.
So let’s start with Drew. Drew, can you pick one thing, what is the most backward thing of all the things you have seen in the legal industry?
Andrew Rossow: Oh, wow. Well, I am sure you will love this answer, is all lawyers say or most lawyers say is it depends, but it depends on the day. If I had to isolate one in particular, it would be the lack of understanding of technology even in the office setting.
Jared Correia: Yeah, that’s good. I understand. I feel your pain, trust me.
All right, so let’s move to Elan. Elan, can you pick one thing that you think is backward about the legal industry?
Elan Fields: Sure. For me it comes down to the fact that for millions of Americans legal representation is cost prohibitive and 80% of those eligible for federally funded legal aid are unable to get their civil legal things met.
Access to justice should be understood as a human right, yet we live in a country where there’s a fatal disconnect between the laws on the books and access to those laws and their protections. Increasingly more people are going into court self-represented and far too many of them are losing their homes, their jobs, custody of their children and are being victimized by discrimination and consumer rights violations due to a lack of legal representation.
And as Drew said, the legal industry is failing to keep up with emerging technologies and utilize digital age resources and tools, leaving law firms and legal aid organizations to rely on inefficient manual processes.
Jared Correia: Oh, you brought stats, I really like that by the way, I heard 80% in there. All right, so I think this is a good topic to hit on for a little bit. So let’s continue this discussion about technology and also about how that affects access to justice.
So Drew, like specifically with respect to what you have seen in your practice and how other lawyers practice, how well or poorly do lawyers deal with technology issues in terms of like the substantive practice?
Andrew Rossow: You know, I am sure you are going to get really tired of this answer and hopefully not throw me out of the show, but it depends on the lawyer, and that is the magical word is it depends.
But at least in my experience practicing, you are talking about an old school, conservative mindset of the traditional lawyer versus a younger, newer generation of Millennial, such as myself and Elan coming in and changing the game a little bit or trying to update the game, and I think there’s a constant struggle and conflict between what’s worked in the past has worked, but is it time to change, is it time to update, and you are going against that saying of if it’s not broken, why fix it.
Jared Correia: And so you are in a unique position where you are a younger attorney working with an older more established attorney. How do you resolve those issues in your practice on a day-to-day basis?
Andrew Rossow: Sure. Working with Greg, it has been a great experience and I think he is much more attuned to the technology era, and it’s not the traditional conservative mindset, but there’s a lot that I learn from him, he learns from me, and we try to keep each other on track and involved in as much as we can.
I think it takes two minds who are open to learning new things, and there’s a saying of learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and there’s going to be situations where a new attorney or a business owner is in situations that may not — he may not be used to or may not have been trained for and because the times have changed, the realm of technology is changing, you have to kind of dive in a little bit.
Jared Correia: And so you do feel it sounds like that older or more experienced attorneys do have something to offer in terms of technology and technology management, so long as they have an open mind, with respect to working with younger attorneys.
Andrew Rossow: Absolutely, and not just that mindset of, I have done this for so many years, this is how it works versus, yes, I have done this for so many years, it works; however, because the times are changing maybe there are more efficient ways to accomplish this. Maybe we take bits and pieces from one method and combine it with bits and pieces of another method and come up with a more modernized type method or strategy on moving forward and practicing.
Jared Correia: Yeah, I think that’s a great answer. So Elan, turning to you now, do you think lawyers are doing a better job of adopting technology in their law practices from the perspective of a vendor?
Elan Fields: Yes, I think the legal industry is evolving and as such law firms are adopting new technologies at an increasing rate. Studies show that law firms that have changed their approaches to staffing, service delivery and pricing models are consistently likely to see improves gross revenue.
But there is still push back and the legal industry is slow to adopt emerging technologies. The legal system is based on precedent, which by its nature discourages innovation. There is a general lack of knowledge on the part of law firms as to what role legal technology can have and how it can enhance their practices. However, as the benefits of legal technology is becoming widely recognized this is becoming less of an issue.
In addition, the billable hour mentality, the structure of law firms themselves, management being dispersed and long sales cycle and the need to integrate new solutions with existing systems and security concerns continue to be an impediment for legal tech companies and just furthermore the pressure from clients to have a more transparent, efficient and affordable legal system is sure to continue to influence more and more legal practices to improve their operational systems and their methods of delivering legal services.
Jared Correia: So you kind of think this has to do with the way that law firms bill as well, and it sounds like you believe the more firms move away from hourly billing, the more innovative they might be in terms of technology.
Elan Fields: Yeah, I think there is definitely a trend to move away from the status quo that services have to be billed hourly and looking at alternatives through unbundling legal services and fixed prices and that clients and legal consumers as a whole are really interested in that change.
Jared Correia: Yeah, and the unbundling thing is sort of access to justice leads the charge on that, is that your view as well?
Elan Fields: Yeah. I think it offers a huge potential to increase the capacity for legal service providers, both in the legal aid community and the private bar to service low and moderate income populations.
Jared Correia: If you reduce the price, you distill the representation, people can more likely afford it. All right, this is great. We are off to a great start here, but let’s be efficient. Let’s take a break. Here’s what you should be buying.
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Thanks so much for coming back. Do you feel well-rested? We are resetting here with Drew Rossow and Elan Fields, who are providing us with the Millennial perspective on law practice and law practice management.
So guys, let’s move forward and talk a little bit about events or trends of cultural significance that are affecting law practices which may not be related to the law. An example that I see in this case a lot is people are talking about Uber and how that has changed the economy generally and also how law firms have had to react to companies like that gaining in popularity.
So let’s start with Elan this time. What kind of trends or cultural events do you see that are affecting law practices that the lawyers may not even know about or understand?
Elan Fields: Sure. Today’s legal consumers are different and to speak specifically about the Millennial generation, we have different habits when it comes to searching for and evaluating legal options. We are expecting services to be personalized to our needs, to have easier access points and to have fixed prices on legal services, among others.
And on the lawyer side, and I will let Drew to speak to this more, but Millennial lawyers are starting to become partners of firms or head up legal departments and they are typically more tech savvy and more knowledgeable about legal technology and are thus more incentivized to implement it in their legal practices.
And lastly, legal technology is starting to make its mark in law schools, training the next generation of lawyers to be well-versed in applications and the potential for legal tech to provide new models and platforms for helping their clients.
Jared Correia: Oh, that’s a good point. You covered a lot of ground there. Drew, what is left for you?
Andrew Rossow: Well, I have to agree with Elan and what he said. I think he makes a couple of good points, and just to add on to what Elan said, I think with today’s climate in terms of the tech industry, at least from a legal perspective or a law firm’s perspective, we are concerned with security and maintaining client documents, preserving firm documents and matters. And I think with today’s security breaches such as the recent WannaCry worm and the NSA, the recent Chipotle hackings and I believe Kmart was one of the latest businesses that have been breached or had its data breached, I think it’s a wake-up call to law firms, to businesses, and even more to law schools who are teaching Millennials and students what it takes to ensure that your client is happy.
And I think above all else is making sure that they trust that their lawyer is preserving their information, their matter is confidential to the best of its ability. And I think everyday there is a new security breach and I think it’s a huge wake-up call as I said for firms to see what mechanisms they have in place or what data policies they have in place to ensure that they are as secure as they can be.
Jared Correia: That’s an excellent point. I think the data security issue is something that law firms don’t worry about enough, and for those who haven’t seen it there is new ABA Ethics Opinion on this topic, Formal Opinion 477 that you should check out.
Although I have to say I would rather have Chipotle like data getting hacked rather than like they are hacking people’s colons when they had that norovirus outbreak, that was bad news. I haven’t been to Chipotle for quite a while. I don’t think we are getting them as a sponsor.
Anyway, Elan, let’s move back to you. What current advantage do you think machine learning specifically offers for law firms, because that’s a hot topic for lawyers right now, but again it’s not something that a lot of them understand effectively?
Elan Fields: Yeah. Yeah. Advances in machine learning are and will continue to make the law much easier to navigate. It is being used for due diligence review, legal research, document drafting, contract analysis, predicting litigation outcomes and a variety of other tasks. Machine learning applications are not specific to any one practice and are in fact tools. This technology really helps lawyers and their clients achieve greater efficiency, productivity, and cost savings.
Jared Correia: Not bad, that’s pretty good. In terms of continuing on this line, discussing trends, Drew, let’s talk a little bit about email. I mean I don’t know how you feel about email, I hate email and I am an old guy. So why do you think email sucks so much and are there better communication alternatives out there that firms should be considering?
Andrew Rossow: Well, you are not the worst with email, you have always answered me, so I can’t speak on behalf of everybody else, but.
Jared Correia: I hate email. I use it, I don’t like it.
Andrew Rossow: There is always going to be a better alternative out there, and does email work, sure, it does. There is no one service that does something that the other does not. However, if I had to pick, there are new platforms such as Slack or Trillian that are starting to incorporate the interoffice communication.
I think Slack has come about recently where whatever the business is, you can set up your own type of interoffice group and you have different channels for different divisions of the business or the firm. I have started to incorporate that into our firm and I know a couple of my buddies and other professional colleagues are using that as well. I think everybody is going to have their own preference, but there is always going to be something better out there and it’s a matter of what works for the individual.
Jared Correia: That’s a great example. So you are using Slack in your firm, where you work with an attorney who is more experienced, older than you are. So before we leave this topic, can you talk to people a little bit about how Slack works because I am not sure everybody listening knows what it is.
Andrew Rossow: Sure. Slack is a chat client or chat platform similar to that of an AOL Instant Messenger, an MSN Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger. However, it’s the more updated platform to where you have what’s called a team. So if we are a law firm or a business, this company ABC has its team called ABC. Within this team are members or employees or staff or whatever they are and within this team or within this chat client you have different channels.
So there could be a marketing channel, there could be a legal channel, there could be an accounting channel, the finance channel, the HR channel, whatever it could be, and each channel you have the ability to join, leave, whatnot. And the relevant members of those divisions are within those channels, and that’s how they communicate back and forth. You can send documents and files and you have the ability to directly message anyone within the team, to where you have a huge network of members in communication.
I have started it here. I use it a lot more. I think we use Trillian as an office more than we do Slack and I am a part of the Lawyers Slack Group started by Keith Lee.
Jared Correia: Yeah, that’s a popular one, Associate’s Mind, right?
Andrew Rossow: Associate’s Mind, yeah, so that’s the main Slack Group that I am a part of and we have our different channels. It’s a great way to meet people. It’s a great way to stay in touch with people within your own business. There’s always going to be different alternatives, but I know Slack has become very popular in the past year.
Jared Correia: Yeah, so you use Slack for internal communications. Do you ever use it to communicate with clients? Are you concerned about data security issues?
Andrew Rossow: I think you nailed it right there. I have not used it with clients, I am a little hesitant on that, and it’s more for their sake than it is mine and it comes down to reliability and what happens if the client is unavailable or you send something to the wrong person. There’s just too much risk in that. Now, I am not saying it can’t work, it’s just something I haven’t explored as much yet.
Jared Correia: That’s fair. Okay, I just want people to know that I still like QDOBA, so I will just throw that out there.
Andrew Rossow: QDOBA is great.
Jared Correia: All right, on that note — QDOBA is good, right, yeah. All right, on that note we are going to take another break, we are going to hit the sponsor and then we will come right back.
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All right, now you have learned about some more cool products and you have come back and we are still here talking to Drew Rossow and Elan Fields, who are providing us with the Millennial perspective on the legal industry. So let’s continue.
Gentlemen, here’s a grab bag question for you. We just talked about current trends in the legal field, what event, trends, products do you think will most affect law firms 20 years from now, when I will be about 86? Drew, you are first.
Andrew Rossow: I have to say the cloud. I think the cloud is still up and coming in terms of its potential and I know there’s been a lot of risks and stories that may go against that, but I still think there’s a lot that we can learn from it, I still think there’s a lot more potential for its uses.
And there’s been a couple of things where I have started to see some virtual law firms pop up and virtual businesses come about. I am not sure what Elan has to say on that, but those are my two cents.
Jared Correia: No, the cloud thing is good. I think especially in a industry like legal where there’s more of a cultural lag, I think that for general business people this notion of the cloud I think is something that attorneys are still adjusting to. But go ahead Elan, what do you think on this topic?
Elan Fields: I would say artificial intelligence will continue to dramatically affect how legal work gets done. Increasing automation of legal tasks promises to increase efficiency and help law firms provide greater value to their clients at lower costs. I think the rise in AI-enabled systems will help lawyers modernize their legal practices, alleviate them from routine and tedious work, relocating time for lawyers to engage in a more meaningful practice of law.
And I certainly think that this will lead to changes and configurations of law firm structures and their economic models.
Jared Correia: And you think artificial intelligence could be used in the access to justice construct as well, right?
Elan Fields: Yeah, yeah, I think it has huge potential for it to essentially help democratize legal services and bridge the gap between the private bar, the legal aid community, and the folks who need civil representation.
Jared Correia: And so we will talk about what that looks like in a second, but in terms of like current applications, how is it that access to justice groups can get access to, see what I did there, these technologies that would cost a large law firm even a lot of money, how does this thing get funded?
Elan Fields: You bring up most certainly a challenge and a barrier to bringing in modern technology.
Jared Correia: Yeah, and it’s probably an open question, right?
Elan Fields: Yeah, yeah, most certainly, and it’s a barrier to bringing modern technology into the legal aid sector, where funds are already limited and these offices are already again underfunded and under-resourced. So it’s coming up with sort of creative strategies to bring in different stakeholders to provide funding for these programs, whether it’s from federal programs or private foundations or state funds, but also looking at how all the partners can work together, give this technology access to the people who need it most.
Jared Correia: Absolutely, a work in progress. All right, so Drew, let’s get to something that a lot of people are talking about right now, there’s a lot of interest in this idea of autonomous technology. So personal assistants, driverless cars, how do you think that’s going to affect the way that lawyers will practice law in 2037?
Andrew Rossow: You know, as long as they are not smarter than us, then we are good, because I don’t want Skynet coming up and trying to ruin everything we have done.
Jared Correia: That’s a fair point, I like that.
Andrew Rossow: I think it’s a good question. At least when it comes to the smart devices that we have started to see with the Google Home, the Amazon Echoes, I think from a personal assistant point of view, I am not too sure on driverless cars, maybe Elan may have something to say on that, but the personal assistant, I think the boundaries are I guess unlimited. I think the potential is just so great on how they can be used and utilized in a firm or a business. I have started to use the Amazon Echo in our practice, I use it for calendar.
Jared Correia: Oh, you have. Oh interesting.
Andrew Rossow: I have. The Amazon platform has started to release certain applications or plug-ins that work within the Gmail Calendar or the Outlook Calendar that make it a little bit easier to kind of track billable hours and your schedule. So there’s not too much out there, but it’s starting to provide more ways for attorneys to kind of stay remote, work remotely and practice more efficiently. And it does tie back into the security conversation we were having earlier on privacy and the risks associated. I think the way attorneys can practice law in 2037 or whatever year it may be, it’s going to be totally different than what it is now, but it’s definitely hard to say.
Jared Correia: Yeah, and the data security issue is interesting too because these are autonomous devices, but as an attorney you still have to maintain control over how your data gets used or applied in these devices, and that’s one thing to consider.
Andrew Rossow: Very much though.
Jared Correia: So Elan, in 2037, let’s talk about what the landscape will look like in the access to justice community. How do you see access to justice being changed by technology 20 years from now?
Elan Fields: That’s a big question.
Jared Correia: I trust you to deliver on this, go ahead.
Elan Fields: Sure. Today we see technology changing traditional ways of providing legal services and this has led to greater democratization of the industry and has brought about an ever continuing search for better and more efficient ways of providing legal services.
Innovative legal delivery models will provide an array of solution tools, both human and technological, that will produce efficient, cost-effective and risk appropriate resolutions to client challenges.
I also think that there will be a rise of alternative dispute technologies; whether private sector offerings or government offerings, legal disputes are moving toward automated online systems. And in the efforts to close the justice gap I most certainly think technology will become an essential tool.
Jared Correia: Yeah, I think that’s a good point about alternative dispute resolutions because litigation is so costly and time-consuming. This needs to be a great place for access to justice proponents to work in.
All right, we did it guys, we are done. Segre in evidence would be very proud and when I say that you guys have no fucking idea what I am talking about, do you?
All right, in any event, that will do it for another episode of The Legal Toolkit. I will be back on future shows of course with further insights into my soul, The Soul of America and the legal market. If you are feeling nostalgic for my dulcet tones however, you can check out our entire show archive anytime you want at HYPERLINK “legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com.
So thanks to Drew Rossow of Gregory M. Gantt Co., LPA and Elan Fields of Gideon for spending some time with me today.
Elan, can you tell people how to find out more about you and about Gideon.
Elan Fields: Sure. Yeah, to learn more, please check us out at HYPERLINK “gideon.legal” gideon.legal and email us at HYPERLINK “[email protected]” [email protected] if you have any questions or to request a demo.
Jared Correia: Awesome. And Drew, how about you, how can people find out more about what you are doing and also about the Gantt Company.
Andrew Rossow: Sure. Well, first off, I want to thank you for having me. It was a pleasure to be here. And I think like you said at the beginning of the show, we are located in Dayton, Ohio and you can contact us at (937) 227-3554, or visit our website at HYPERLINK “http://www.dayton-lawyers.net” www.dayton-lawyers.net or you can simply visit my official Facebook page at HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/drossowlaw” www.facebook.com/drossowlaw. We are very mobile. We are on the Internet, so we are easy to find.
Jared Correia: Dayton, home of the Dayton Dragons, am I right?
Andrew Rossow: Yes sir. I am surprised you know that, for a small little minor league team.
Jared Correia: Oh man, I have been all over the country. How are they doing this year, good?
Andrew Rossow: Yeah, sure, I will let you know when I go to a game. I live in the office.
Jared Correia: All right, that’s fair. All right everybody, go check out what Drew is doing, go check out what Elan is doing, and get your season ticket packages for the Dayton Dragons.
Thanks again to Drew Rossow of Gregory M. Gantt Co., LPA and Elan Fields of Gideon. Finally, thanks to all of you out there for listening. And remember, if you ain’t first, you’re last. Until next time.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Legal Toolkit, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join host Jared Correia for his next podcast covering the current business trends for law firms. If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit HYPERLINK “legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via iTunes and RSS. Find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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