Going to law school? Read these by August

You know the legal market is changing, and for that reason you're meticulous about choosing your law school.  

I'm very happy with my choice, Pepperdine in Los Angeles.  I am exceedingly lucky because, as I detailed in another post, I came to each campus already knowing how to see.  I inherited a unique mindset from working in startup investing and entrepreneurship.  I had a pretty good idea that communications tech and AI would make a lot of jobs redundant, and that the job market for J.D.'s is competitive, but nothing more specific.  I wish I had been more sophisticated.  

If you are lucky enough to be reading this prior to enrolling, I promise you will not regret finishing this material.  Convince yourself that it's relaxing in comparison to the LSAT.  

If I you read these books and articles, you will:

  1. ask outstanding questions during your visits, open houses, and chats with professions, which will impress your hosts and ensure you are confident in your decision,
  2. become more articulate in fielding the "so why do you want to go/did you come to law school?" question everyone seems to ask law students, 
  3. have a head start on searching for summer employment opportunities which are innovation-compatible, and
  4. gain perspective, which is required to stay sane as a law student. 

Interviews (search for both on iTunes):

  • Bill Mooz interviews Liam Brown on ILTA radio.  Mooz, an in-house innovator and visiting scholar at Colorado Law School, and Brown, founder of a quickly-growing legal service provider, take listeners on a survey of the players that constitute legal services ecosystem.   Key takeaway at ~29 min and 47:08 min mark - the hosts define "T Shaped" lawyer someone who's legally trained in traditional doctrinal law, and also possesses a broad range of skills (familiarity with data, project management skills, empathy, etc). 
  • Daniel Martin Katz on Legal Talk Radio.  Key takeaway at 10:25 - the problems lawyers solve are " [1] characterizing legal and other classes of risk and [2] managing complexity."  Neat dichotomy which helps us avoid the temptation to stray from our lane.

Books:

  • The Future of the Professions by Richard & Daniel Susskind.  Gretzky scored goals by skating to where the puck was going.
  • So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport - TL;DR - instead of following your passion, become highly skilled and passion will find you.  Deep Work will teach you how to attain the necessary focus.
  • Remaking Law Firms or Liquid Legal (preferably both!).  These books are among the few resources that speak credibly about how change is actually affecting large organizations.  Liquid Legal is brand new, and I have yet to complete all of it.  Here is the table of contents .  Two highlights for me so far from LL are Connie Brenton's introduction of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), a group of people who're interested creating and optimizing data-driven legal departments, and Roger Strathausen's observation that law turns on ambiguity--we need it at the constitutional level and for efficiency's sake, but ambiguity requires us to resolve disputes that arise because of differing interpretations.  
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (fiction).  "The enemy's gate is down" is a portable insight.  

Articles:

  • Roland Vogl's Primer on Legal Technology.  Do you know the difference between infrastructure, information retrieval, and computational law? 
  • The J.D. Bimodal Salary Distribution.  Your takeaway - if you stay on 'the track,' you're likely to make either well over six figures, or well short of six figures upon graduation, and there is almost no middle ground.
  • An MIT School of Law? by Daniel Martin Katz.  Your takeaway - Law School is "Analogy School," but you might want to learn some math, design, and entrepreneurship while you're there.  Check out Quantitative Legal Prediction also.
  • A Blueprint for Change by Bill Henderson.  How could a law school which wants to modernize get 'there' from here?  What skills, other than legal analysis, are helpful and can be taught?  This is part of the Pepperdine Law Review "Lawyer of the Future" symposium.
  • Glass Half Full by Benjamin Barton - TL;DR - the legal profession and legal education must solve a few problems, but in the grand scheme of things these present an opportunity. 
  • Dilbert on Robot Lawyers.
  • You and Your Research - Search for the paragraph with "work with the door open or the door closed."  Law students especially need this.  I hope you'll resist the temptation to "work with the door closed," especially when 1L work seems insurmountable.  

    PS - someday this post will hook into my most popular post, creating a multi-part series which serves as a gentle introduction for new readers.  But for now, it's standalone.