Gerald Glover III “discovered his passion for legal technology at Suffolk Law School while researching how to increase access to justice. After earning his degree, he went on to work at a company specializing in document automation, where he developed project management, data analytics, and software-building skills. Since joining DWT De Novo, he has sharpened the team’s ability to engage with and evaluate vendors. Gerald’s dedication to improving solution adoption supports DWT De Novo’s ongoing work to transform legal service delivery.” (https://denovo.dwt.com/gerald-glover/)
If you could explain what it is that you do, how would you do so?
I try to push forward new, innovative ways of delivering legal work. I am part of a legal solutions design team at Davis Wright Tremaine called DWT De Novo. We supplement traditional legal expertise with additional capabilities in project management, process improvement, legal technology, document automation, alternative staffing support, and data visualization. Our team is constantly testing out new technologies and processes, in order to assist our attorneys and our clients in bringing their best ideas to life. Often that means being more efficient in how they complete work and generate business insights for their stakeholders.
What skills do you find most useful that you learned in law school? What skills do you think law schools should teach or emphasize more in the future?
Most Useful: I was fortunate enough to be in the Legal Innovation and Technology concentration at Suffolk University Law School. While there, I was exposed to a different way of thinking about an attorney’s responsibilities. For example, we looked at ways to reduce inefficiencies in legal work through document automation technology and process improvement. These were not skills that I expected to focus on when entering law school, but they will increasingly be the responsibility of modern attorneys.
Should Be Emphasized More: Business writing. Law students learn how to research, cite, and succinctly deliver opinions. But those skills may not translate to the corporate context, where their writing may involve more requests for information or proposals for work.
If someone wants to do what you do, what advice would you give them?
Continue to push your education. Fortunately, there are technology and innovation courses and programs in many law schools now, which is incredible. However, there is always more to know. While it is impossible to know what skills will benefit you most in your career, you can make sure to seek out new areas of interest on your own time.
Since leaving school I have taken a few online courses in basic development languages, data visualization, and Excel. These have enabled me to better understand the tasks that my more-technical colleagues complete and also to do more of the work myself. Data management and visualization are of particular interest to me and online resources have allowed me to complete beginner tasks on my own.
How would you define legal innovation?
New ways to complete legal work that provide more value to clients. To me, innovation means thinking “outside of the box” and doing things better than they have been done in the past. In practice, it means bringing a more diverse set of professionals and skill sets to the table to solve legal challenges and create more comprehensive business solutions. While it may not be innovative by many industry standards, for the legal profession, it represents a new approach to the traditional methods used by large law firms.
At the same time, it is important not to pursue innovation for innovation’s sake. We generally think of innovation in regard to each specific client. We try to bring a fresh perspective to each project, so that we can create a solution that puts our client in a better strategic position than they were before. That enables true progress in business operations and not simply a different way of accomplishing the same goal.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
That every day, week, month, I can be doing something different, that I did not anticipate. There is so much freedom within how our team fulfills requests, that we are able to explore numerous technologies.
The legal field has not historically had a lot of technology at its disposal, but we certainly do now. Legal solutions architects (or LSAs) like myself take responsibility for being aware of the available technology to solve a business need, designing a solution within the relevant systems to deliver value, and then doing the leg work of seeing the project to completion.
It requires a lot of skills to productively work in this position. I can honestly say that Suffolk Law gave me a great foundation for this work and my team at DWT gives me space to continuously improve and develop my skills.
Why do you think other law firms and/or legal departments have people like you doing what you do?
There are not many law firms or legal departments with multi-functional positions like ours at DWT. However, the desire to create positions like ours has grown in the past few years. I believe that is because of the perspective that lawyers-turned-technologists can bring to the table. Even though we did not practice law, we can appreciate the business needs of attorneys and can understand and productively coordinate with the developers and technical teams that we work with.
Further, we are sometimes the only individuals who can map the client’s business need to a technology solution, if one is needed. This translation of amorphous requirements to design is what makes us most valuable.