LegalTech New York is always inspiring, with the opportunity to see so many people, products, services, and seminars over three deliciously-overloaded days. It's like consuming a giant hot fudge sundae, full of yummy calories that take a while to digest and occasionally give you ice cream burn.
It's great to complement LegalTech's frenetic pace with visits to vendors on their own turf where you can see them in context, get leisurely demonstrations, and dive deeper into nuanced conversations about trends and developments than is possible in a crowded exhibit hall or at a noisy cocktail party.
So shortly after LTNY wrapped up, I headed back to my former turf in California for a day in Silicon Valley and another in San Francisco to catch up with some new and veteran vendors and consultants, including Mark Michels, a director at Deloitte, and his colleague, marketer Mary Thornhill, and Daegis' vice president of technology and innovation Doug Stewart, who is featured in our February cover story, "Discovery on the Go."
>> More With Less: Our first stop in Silicon Valley was Cisco Systems Inc., winner of our 2012 LTN Innovation Award for most innovative use of technology in a corporation. Jeremy Wilson, Cisco's controller for ethics lead the team that created the winning project, an e-book "Code of Business Conduct," an alternative publication to massive paper editions or unwieldy PDFs. The e-book is just one of the projects under the wings of Roxane Marenberg, senior director of Cisco's Legal Employment Services. General Counsel Mark Chandler said I simply had to meet Marenberg, who joined Cisco in 2005, after three years as a partner at DLA Piper and 13 years at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld. In 2010 she was named "Best Labor & Employment Lawyer" by the Silicon Valley Business Journal and San Francisco Business Times.
Marenberg easily lived up to Chandler's billing, and captivated me as she explained how she manages Cisco's human relations legal department, and its outside labor and employment firms. Her agenda includes responsibility for global identity and compliance, and legal spending cost containment. Considering Cisco's size it operates in more than 100 countries with about 70,000 employees I was surprised that Marenberg's group is lean, with only three attorneys. Saida Grayson (director, employment law) and Nancy Paik (senior corporate counsel, employment) round out the team. One key to the international success, explained Marenberg, is hiring local counsel in every country who know the nuances of each jurisdiction's rules, which can be crucial when negotiating employee contracts and severance agreements when an overseas country's laws conflict with United States laws. Key U.S. counsel in the employment arena include Littler Mendelson, Seyfarth Shaw, and Paul Hastings.
Marenberg's biggest challenge is one that resonates for many legal professionals: "There are only 24 hours in a day. With a global workforce in 24 standard time zones, I'm waking someone up or someone is waking me up at any given time."
Marenberg splits her time between San Jose and Baltimore, where her family is based. "I'm so fortunate to work for a company that sees the benefit in allowing me to work remotely. I wouldn't be able to manage caring for my 90-year-old Dad without this flexibility," she says.
Favorite work task: "Providing advice that gets to 'yes' for a client by developing a solution that meets the business needs and drives the bottom line."
Technology: Lenovo ThinkPad for work, iPad for personal matters and fun. Smartphone: iPhone.
Travel tips: "Do not try to bring even a small container of yogurt through security, it will be confiscated! Travel light, and download materials you want to access while traveling; you never know whether Wi-Fi is available or working."
Cisco's executive briefing includes an extensive tour that demonstrates many of its products and services. Our tour guide was Cisco engineer Ronald Inouye (pictured left), who explained and demonstrated Cisco's products and services, which range from data, voice, and video networks to Telepresence conferencing, collaboration tools, data centers and virtualization, and so much more. It won't surprise anyone that my favorite part of the tour was the demonstrations of Cisco's work in sports arenas the company was heavily involved in establishing systems at the new Yankee Stadium in New York, which integrates video, voice, data, and wireless services.
>> Walk-in Lawyers: The next Silicon Valley stop was Hamilton Ave. in Palo Alto, to join president Dan Tacone and Dan Bressler of IntApp for lunch, where we had a great conversation about the evolution of Big Data and the security challenges it presents. While we were walking to meet them at Curry Up Now (that started as a cart and has evolved into a engaging divey restaurant I mean that as a compliment), my colleague Brian Klunk and I noticed a very bright storefront that looked like it had been designed by Syracuse University undergraduates who were fans of Hello Kitty. We're talking an almost lethal dose of orange, but it was fresh and inviting. The storefront houses LegalForce BookFlip (staff pictured left), which opened on Feb. 6 as a bricks-and-mortar legal shop in Palo Alto's 323 University Ave. building. Yes, it's the same venue that first sheltered Google, Facebook, and PayPal and is across the street from a sparkling new Apple Store. Of course, its minutes from Stanford University's campus.
The store is affiliated with LegalForce (née Trademarkia), established in 2009 and lead by CEO Raj Abhyanker. The bright, open showroom features all sorts of self-help books and sells Google tablets and smartphones. (I did ask if the mobile devices came loaded with legal information and was told "Not yet."). Two lawyers are available daily at the store, affiliated local lawyers are also accessible. The company helps visitors with legal issues, ranging from simple wills to incorporations. It offers "do-it-yourself" services; DIY with attorney review; or you can have a lawyer do it all for you. Costs from $45 for a 15-minute consultation to $12,500 for an accelerated patent application.
When I covered the American Bar Association and state/local bars in the '90s for The Recorder, ALM's San Francisco-based regional legal newspaper, there was a constant cry from every earnest incoming bar president who each promised to provide better legal services for the working and middle classes. The problem over the years has been that these potential clients make too much money to qualify for legal aid services, but cannot afford Big Law. And most small firms don't really want them as clients, because there's not enough of a margin, and not that many opportunities for steady work.
These people are the target of LegalForce. "We want people to realize that lawyers, like doctors, can provide help through various stages of life," said Abhyanker, who also is an attorney, in a press release provided by the store's staff.
"Clients can also book LegalForce attorneys online," he notes. The company claims that it already is "the world's largest trademark law firm, having filed more than 23,000 U.S. trademarks.
Equity investors include Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. "Strategic advisors" include legal tech household names, such as solo practitioner Carolyn Elefant, DirectLaw Inc.'s Richard Granat, and Daniel Katz, assistant professor at Michigan State Law School. (See " Big Data Meets Big Law.") Photo, from left: Daniel Byars, Calvin Johnson, attorney Roy Montgomery, and Justin Choy.
>> Box Me In: Next stop, Los Altos, to meet with Peter McGoff (pictured far left), who is coming up to his first anniversary as general counsel and corporate secretary at Box. The company describes itself as offering "user friendly, enterprise ready simple, secure, scalable content sharing that both users and enterprise IT love and adopt." (Think Dropbox on steroids.) Its hip, cluttered, crowded office (complete with a slide from the second floor to the first, and scooters to help get down the corridors) could be easily mistaken for a Hollywood sitcom set, it's so stereotypically "start up."
McGoff, one of the very few employees at Box who has any gray hair, has no office, just a slightly less crowded station (You can't really call them cubicles, because there are no cube-walls between each workstation). He explained that Box is another one of those companies that was started in a dorm room; in this case, by CEO Aaron Levie and CFO Dylan Smith at the University of Southern California. An initial investor was Mark Cuban, who sent a check for $350,000 when the co-founders were still in school, said McGoff.
Current investors include Andreessen Horowitz; Bessemer Venture Partners; Draper Fisher Jurvetson; SAP Ventures, and others, according to the company's website.
Before joining the company, McGoff previously served as senior vice president and general counsel of Informatica, counsel at Omnicell Technologies, and did a stint at Manatt Phelps & Philips. He earned his J.D. at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, and added an LL.M. in intellectual property law at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The company's outside counsel is Perkins Coie. The firm's CIO, Gavin Gray (pictured above, second from left) has just relocated to New York City; he and Chicago-based partner Debra Bernard work closely with Box.
I walked out of the building feeling very old, but very intrigued. I'm definitely going to check out Box now that I'm back in New York.
>> ModuleQ: We won't discuss the difficulty of getting from Los Altos to downtown San Francisco at 4:30 p.m. Having lived in California for most of my life, I should have known better than to think I could travel that distance, at that time, in an hour. Suffice it to say I was very late to my meeting with David James Brunner, CEO and founder of moduleQ, and another Perkins Coie client. But I am glad I didn't cancel and head back to my family in the East Bay.
Brunner, Gray, and I were scheduled to meet at The Westin San Francisco on Market Street, and I arrived so late that I decided to just check into the hotel, and turn a brief handshake of a meeting into dinner at Ducca Lounge. It was a good decision. Brunner and I had a fascinating conversation, and I can't wait to get a demo of moduleQ an Exchange plug-in that will help users manage their action items in Outlook and Gmail email. The company's website is still in "stealth mode," but check out Brunner's personal website and you'll see why I'm all ears about this new product.
Managing my Outlook email is my No. 1 productivity issue, so I predict that once I see the demo I will start nagging our IT department with requests that ALM purchase version 1.0 the second it's available.
Monica Bay is editor-in-chief of Law Technology News and a member of the California Bar. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lawtechnews @LTNMonicaBay.