Lemon Law: The Importance of Documentation for Your Vehicle

Buying a vehicle can be a highly stressful time. Next to purchasing a home, American families struggle with the next major financial investment in car shopping. For some, shopping for a vehicle can be so overwhelming that we avoid it at any cost. However, once the financing process is complete, many will find the vehicle purchase will provide for a sense of accomplishment and excitement when traveling in the new car. Unfortunately, in rare cases, some individuals suffer from defective vehicles resulting in a complaint or claim filed under what is known as the Lemon Law.

Lemon Law, as it pertains to vehicle purchases, is a federal and state regulatory measure to ensure the vehicle consumer is protected against defective vehicle parts and accessories. By definition a vehicle which does not provide service, value or safety to the consumer is a vehicle which may fall under the Lemon Law. Depending on the state in which you reside, the vehicle Lemon Law may vary slightly. However, the overall goal of the Lemon Law is to protect consumers with proper financial compensation when the vehicle purchased does not hold up to the expectations of the market demand.

For many consumers, when purchasing a new vehicle, we do not anticipate the vehicle is a “lemon”. As a result, we fail to properly document the initial repairs made to the vehicle while covered under warranty. However, documenting not only the type of repair but also the name and numbers of those you speak with at the dealership, manufacturer as well as the timing involved with repair will only serve to proof up a case for compensation under the Lemon Law.

To file a complaint under Lemon Law, most states provide assistance in completing the appropriate complaint forms. In Texas, for example, the Texas Department of Transportation, also known as the DOT, will provide a complaint form to be filed when there is sufficient documentation to warrant a review of a vehicle under the Lemon Law provisions. The important key factor to remember, however, is to provide enough documentation to proof a consistent pattern of failure with the vehicle in question.

If confirmed as a “lemon”, there are a variety of suggested options for the vehicle owner. Most commonly, the vehicle manufacturer will provide you with a replacement vehicle, at no cost. In some cases, however, the manufacturer may opt to provide cash settlement or provide a full refund of the purchase process. The decision with regard to resolution of the Lemon Law compliant is, generally, made final by the state in which you reside.

For more information regarding Lemon Law, visit the National Lemon Law Center online.


The Top 10 New Health Foods for 2020

They may not be new, but here the top ten health foods for 2020. If you are like me and my family, and well, the rest of the world, the start of the New Year also signals a fresh start. This year I wanted to focus on eating healthfully, not just starving myself. As a result, I have come up with a list of the top ten health foods for the New Year.

Concentrated Tart Cherry Juice– My dad and my aunt started drinking concentrated Cherry Juice diluted in water. You can pick this super healthy drink up at any health food store. My dad swears it helps combat his gout flare-ups, and my aunt says that it helps with her arthritis. Not just those who suffer from gout or arthritis down this beverage because apparently athletes drink concentrated Cherry Juice to relieve post-workout pain.

Pumpkin Puree-High in fiber and quite tasty. I have recently started trying to find ways to incorporate pumpkin puree in my diet. Just this week, I mixed a can of pumpkin puree with lowfat yogurt and cinnamon. What a tasty and nutritious treat. Pumpkin packs a healthy punch!

Roasted and Milled Flax seed-Flax Seed is packed with Omega-3s, lignans, and fiber. The best part of this health food is you can sprinkle it on unhealthy things like… ice cream!! Ease the guilt of eating ice cream by adding some goodness to it. I like to add flax seed to my chocolate chip cookies, so I don’t feel so horrible eating them.

Raw Wheat Germ– Like flax seed, wheat germ can be added to other foods. I use it to bread chicken, as a filler in meatballs, to bake cookies, and to make smoothies. Wheat Germ has not only fiber, but folic acid and vitamin E. This is a great food for pregnant or soon to be pregnant women.

Whole Wheat Flour-Again, this is a easy swap from your regular Bleached White Flour, and the benefits are worth it. That way you can make your cookies and eat them, too. Whole Wheat Flour is a good source of fiber.

The skin on cucumbers-Really, the skin on cucumbers. For years, I have been eating cucumber with the skin peeled off. I have since discovered that the skin contains all the nutrients of this favorite on the crudités platter. The skin of the cucumber is full of tons of vitamins and nutrients. Vitamin C, A, magnesium, potassium, and fiber are just few found hanging out in the skin of a cucumber.

Coffee-Yup, another shocking new healthy food. It reduces the risk of Parkinson disease, type 2 diabetes, as well of colon cancer.

Dark Chocolate– Go ahead, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy a square of dark chocolate. It has been found to reduce blood pressure, and besides that it tastes great. Who says eating healthfully has to taste bad?

Blueberries-Eat them for the benefits in the future. It is believed that blueberries increase cognitive function and decrease the chance of memory loss (www.blueberry.org).

Prunes-They aren’t just for old people. Besides being rather tasty, they help with constipation. They, like blueberries, are believed to decrease the chance of memory loss (http://www.sunsweetdryers.com/Sunsweet.htm). So, eat those prunes, so when you are old you won’t forge

New Law: Car’s Headlights Must Be On When Raining in Pittsburgh

This year something else became a law in Pittsburgh. When you are driving and it is raining and you put on your windshield wipers, now you much also put on your headlights. Driving in the rain without putting on your headlights can and will get you a fine. Starting this January you must put on your headlights when you are driving in the rain. Be sure that you do and you can save some of your money. The last thing you want is a fine for either not knowing about the new law or not following it. It just passed this year, so remember turn the headlights on at the first sign of rain and then you won’t have to worry.

So for a rule of thumb, if you are driving and it is raining, put on the headlights and don’t forget. This way you will always be safe as you travel about the Pittsburgh area. It is just another thing that you must be aware of when you are driving in and around the Pittsburgh area. Be sure that you pay special attention to it and make sure that you follow all the rules of the road when you are in the city of Pittsburgh. The rules are there for a reason and they must be followed.

The law passed in the beginning of the year and it seems that many people do not know that the law has passed. When it is raining you still see many cars without their headlights on. To be fair, perhaps some of the people don’t know that it is now a law. Maybe they don’t know that when it is raining and you have to have your windshield wipers on that your headlights must also be on. Hopefully they will know soon, because today there would have been many citations given. It rained and lots of people did not have their headlights on. As it seemed, one out of every three cars did not have their headlights on. Though, I didn’t see the police out in full force enforcing the new law, it is only a matter of time. So remember, that now when you are driving in and around the Pittsburgh area and it is raining, please put the headlights on. Follow the rules that they give in the city of Pittsburgh and you will save yourself some money. It is the law.


Why a Computer Won’t Replace Law Firm Associates Tomorrow

I am an unabashed technology fan, but I’m also a lawyer and, therefore, a professional skeptic. So, when I read speculation about the one of the artificial intelligence (AI) packages taking over the work of law firm junior associates in the near future, the geek in me is intrigued and the skeptic in me says “no way.” Right now and for the foreseeable future, the skeptic is going to win. In fact, right now the chances of getting a computer to do first year associate legal research in the near future are about the same as getting Shakespeare verses from a monkey with a typewriter.

Let’s start with what is possible in the real world today. Siri, Contara, Google Now and Watson each can do wonderful things when it comes to tracking down information in data sets. They have, in varying degrees, the ability to take a query, parse the query, search databases, and come back with information relevant to the query. In some cases, they just deliver web sites that seem to have relevant information. In other cases, they can go much further. Some of the sophistication in these packages lies in their abilities to understand queries with some ambiguity built into them. The more ambiguous the query, the more the software must work to decipher the query, and that is much more difficult than simply searching databases.

The challenge becomes even greater when the complexity of the query grows. In other words, as we move from data searching to compound analytics, the software can’t simply go to one database and extract the answer. It may have to tie together multiple databases and knit an answer. Parsing the query also becomes more difficult, since compound queries typically include more ambiguity.

If you read Wired’s story about Viv, an AI package in development that, from the sounds of it, would blow the existing contenders out of the water, you will find a nice infographic showing how Viv would work through and answer the query, “On the way to my brother’s house, I need to pick up some cheap wine that would go with lasagna.” Using database searches and matching the results, Viv finds the route to “my brother’s” house, locate wine shops along the way, picks red wines that go with lasagna, and finds the prices of the wines.

AI and the First Year Associate

Ron Friedman and Alan Rothman discuss the logical question of interest to lawyers: could Viv take over doing basic legal research? Basically, could Viv become a first year associate? The same question has been asked about other AI efforts, but since Viv aims to play in a different league, I’ll focus on what I think would be the barrier to Viv taking over that first year associate’s job.

Legal research is quite complicated, but for purposes of this post I’m going to grossly oversimplify it by dividing it into two very large buckets. The first bucket is the easier of the two. It involves queries such as: find a case that supports the statement I am making in my brief. If I want to say “granting summary judgment in a patent infringement case is appropriate in the Federal Third Circuit when …” I need a case supporting that statement. As I understand Viv, she would parse the sentence into something like “what is summary judgment,” “what is a patent infringement case,” “what is the Federal Third Circuit,” and “what is appropriate.” She would then do something similar to what any of us would do, and follow the databases to find that case in the Third Circuit that says, “granting summary judgment is appropriate in a patent infringement case when the following test is met …”

Of course, things become more complicated if there isn’t such a case in the Third Circuit. Now, Viv must reason that the general standard for summary judgment in the Third Circuit also should apply to a patent infringement case. To do that, Viv would have to know whether a patent infringement case is distinguishable from other cases in a way that is meaningful for determining summary judgment. Even this simple question can quickly become confusing.

Let’s go back for a moment to the “cheap wine for a lasagna dinner at my brother’s” example from the Wired article. Viv recommended wine stores selling cabernet’s ((Viv’s wine suggestion) on the route from the requestor’s house to her brother’s house and found the prices for those wines. While Viv’s ability is amazing, it misses the human elements. Would a different wine choice be more inspired? Was the requestor’s brother serving tomato sauce lasagna or white lasagna? Should the requestor also bring a white wine, because her brother’s girlfriend is allergic to red wine?

You could argue I’m just making the initial query more complicated by adding facts. But, that is what humans do, although often subconsciously. We simplify what we are doing when reporting it out loud, but when we actually perform the task we take into account those unspoken factors. Con=mbining database research on discrete factors into an answer isn’t the same as legal research.

Similarly, when lawyers do research they don’t articulate all of the factors they are using when they select cases, they rely on factors not articulated. It is the factors not articulated, but used in the research, that can distinguish the quality of product returned. Unless the person asking Viv to do the legal research is very detailed when giving Viv the inquiry, and unless Viv can handle extremely complicated inquiries for even the most basic case support, I think it is unlikely Viv will be doing legal research anytime soon. I’m also skipping over the fact that frequently legal research involves finding the analogous case, not the case directly on point (because no such case exists), and that type of reasoning is well beyond Viv’s capabilities.

Respect, But Don’t Fear

If Viv and other AI software won’t be doing legal research soon, should we as lawyers care (er, worry) about these packages? I think the answer is yes, and for several reasons. First, Viv may not get to legal research, but undoubtedly a Viv in the not-too-distant future will get there. The discussion about computers doing some form of research is not one of “if” but of “when.” Second, the path from Viv to that future researcher probably won’t be linear. The path will involve leaps and plateaus, but we should be prepared for the leaps because each one will be a bit more of technology encroaching on what lawyers formerly did. Third, even though Viv can’t do research there are things a Viv-like AI package soon will be able to do and even those things will impact the way we practice law.

Lawyers today already face a deluge of information. Software packages today are good at and quickly growing better at pre-sifting information. This isn’t legal research; it is sorting through hundreds, thousands or millions of documents to find those relevant to the inquiry. Obviously, eDiscovery is the leading area where we see this happening, but these skills are now being used in other (though related) areas such as due diligence. Vendors are starting to find ways to gather and structure the unstructured information sitting in corporate and law firm databases. As more data becomes readily accessible and “meaningful,” software will use it more effectively.

Right now, we all seem focused on when certain changes will occur.  Instead of focusing on the unknowable, we should focus on what we can control. Eliminating non-value added activities in what we do frees up our time to focus on value added activities. The more we focus on value rather than effort, the more we have a chance of staying ahead of the technology curve.

[N.B. – Points for those of you who figured out the “monkey with a typewriter” reference is to the picture which shows one of the members of the 1960’s band Monkees sitting at a typewriter. Extra points if you know which member of the band is shown, and points deducted if you have to look it up on Google.]

Elder Abuse & the Law

Our society is witnessing a steady climb in assisted living facilities and nursing homes as the population of the boomer generation continues to grow older. While some of our elderly are able to carry out the task of self-care, others require additional assistance.

Basic Care and Necessities of Life

“Elder neglect” refers to the service provider’s failure to ensure basic care and the necessities of life for the elderly. The service provider is anyone charged with the responsibility of caring for the elderly, such as an adult child, a family member, caregiver, or attendant. Necessities generally refer to food, water, shelter, clothing, medication, safety, personal care, and financial support. We attribute self-neglect as an elderly person’s failure to perform self-care. Depending on place of residence, an elder person is someone who is 60-65 years old.

Signs of Elder Neglect

Some signs that can suggest elder neglect are bedsores, poor hygiene, dehydration, weight loss, malnutrition, bruises or broken bones. The living environment does not have running water, heat, or appears to be unsanitary. Missed medical appointments, unfilled prescriptions, untreated medical ailments can suggest lack of care.

Contact the Authorities

If there is possible elder neglect, concerned citizens should, while not required by law, contact the proper authorities. Protective services agencies have the responsibility and resources to investigate reported cases or concerns they receive. In an emergency, please contact law enforcement and medical services. You may be the only help the neglected elder has, so take your concerns seriously.

Elder Abuse Prevention

In the same manner, if you suspect that an elderly person has suffered neglect and abuse, contact protective services agencies in your area. Protective services agencies will perform the necessary investigations to establish if there has been elder abuse. If it is warranted, contact emergency medical services and law enforcement. Concerned citizens are not lawfully required to report cases of elder abuse. However, the elderly may not have anyone else.

Elder Law Lawyer

The information provided in this article serves as a general introduction of an important subject matter. The law surrounding elder neglect or elder abuse requires a professional lawyer. Please contact a lawyer if you are dealing with a case of elder neglect or elder abuse.


The Janitorial Law

With the presidential elections coming up I began to wonder about the qualifications. As this thought passed through my ever curious mind, I found that there is one very important qualification missing. It is a qualification that should be known as the (Janitorial Experience). In order to have this as a qualification, we must first have it as a law, therefore I have written
this article to inform people of why a janitorial law should be enforced.

The law should read as follows: anyone person applying for a political chair must have four years of janitorial experience.

When applying for a janitorial position one must have these qualification.
1. Be a high school graduate/ GED. College, Treading Course or others are optional.
2. Be 18 years of age or older.
3. Be bonded
4. A citizen of the U.S.A.

The reason for the education is so that when a person in the janitorial position is requested to preform an act of duty, he/she will understand the request. There is also the belief that a person with at least 4 years of high school, is capable of communicating with those he/she is working with. Which is a plus to everyone. 18 years of age is a legal matter when it comes to hiring someone for full time work. It also protects both employer and employee. Being bonded provides thee employer with legal proof that the employee is not a thief. Which in the case of a janitor is very important. These people in such a position have full excess to the company store. They are trusted with the keys from the front door to the back door. They have access to the funds for purchasing supplies. It is the belief of those who hire them that they will make the right choice wisely. It is also a show of respect by the employee, and gives confidence to the employer.

Once the janitor is on the job, those that work indirectly with him/her, come to rely on them. Which leads to the diplomatic manner of the janitor. The reason this occurs, is because all of those that work within the company store come to think that the janitor is there for their benefit. Which is true, and leads to the assumption that the janitor will fit it, and in most cases they do, and they do so with a pleasing attitude. They are diplomatic.

It is because of these qualities that the janitor learns thee importance of being economical, the need to solve problems with satisfactory results to all concerned, and thee ability to keep the company in the best position to advance with success.

Now the only three qualifications one person needs to enter the elections for Presidency are as follows:
1. Must be 35 years of age on the day of inauguration.
2. Have lived in the United States for 14 years
3. Be a natural born citizen of the United States.

Yes there are unwritten qualifications, such as he/she should have an education, should be knowledgeable of economics, and should understand the need of being diplomatic. Now that does sound good, but the point being, they are not required to hold any of these qualities to run for the top office of the United States.

We also have learned in history that because of our neglect to back check all those who run for office, we have placed thieves in the white house, we have found some to be greedy, we have also become accustom to being mislead by double talkers.
All of this should tell the American voters, even myself, that we need a janitor whom has proven that they can be trusted, and not another high priced under achiever whom has bought their way into office. Shouldn’t the one who is leading the troops into a satisfying for all out come, have the ability of being diplomatic? After all, when one speaks with the janitor he or she accepts to receive an answer at the time of the question. Not to be told, I’ll get back to you, or, you can only ask the questions you have been provide with. A janitor doesn’t have a staff writer who is paid to make his sound intelligent, they just need to know how to answer the question.

So what this all boils down to is one major fact, we the people want to make certain that there is always enough toilet paper to wipe up are behind, but we aren’t smart enough to prevent the mess in the first place. Remember that the janitor understands there are only solutions and not problems. A candidate always says, I can fix the problem.

There are three solutions that would eliminate their problems.
1. Remove greed, and you have sharing.
2. Remove envy, and you have fairness.
3. Show humanity, and you will have humbleness.

Now, let’s get out there and vote for the “Janitorial Law”. After all, who among us does not prefer a clean toilet?



Unique Connecticut Law Firm Celebrates 70th Anniversary

As far as law firms go, you can probably recognize the names of those you find plastered on buses, billboards or on late night television commercials. This article is not about those lawyers. Instead it deals with a firm that has relied on word of mouth for over 70 years. Founded in 1940, the law office of Podorowsky Thompson & Baron has been representing generations of Connecticut families. The firm boasts loyal clients that have been using their services since the early 1950s. Not ready to sit on their laurels, PT&B; continued to evolve and in 2007, opened an office in the heart of New Britain’s Polish District.

If you’ve never been to New Britain’s “Little Poland”, you might want to bring along your passport. Whether you are getting a haircut, looking for dance lessons, need to do some banking, or want a cup of coffee, you can actually conduct an entire day’s business entirely in Polish. Not to be outdone, Podorowsky Thompson & Baron entered the fray. The firm added a Polish speaking attorney and purchased a former biker bar from the city of New Britain through a neighborhood revitalization program. Entering the unassuming entrance of Podorowsky, Thompson & Baron, former bar patrons may be surprised to now find an elegant office with high vaulted ceilings, antique Victorian furniture and paintings from local artists. As soon as you walk in, clients are offered a cappuccino which they can sip while reading a selection of reading materials in a variety of languages.

Aesthetics and coffee aside, what matters is the firm does great work and has become a wonderful addition to the community. Each month, the firm conducts legal seminars for area residents and is active in charity work.
They also put out a legal advice column that is printed in English and Polish newspapers available throughout New England. Through the firm’s legal intern program, students from UCONN Law, Western New England, Pace and even Poland have gained an insight into daily law practice.

Practice areas include personal injury, criminal defense, immigration, real estate closings and family law. It may be the only law firm in New England that can provide real estate closings in your choice of English, Polish or Spanish. Unlike most law firms, Podorowsky Thompson & Baron is unique in that it offers optional payment plans and 24 hour-7 day a week access to their attorneys via an emergency hotline. I know this from personal experience. As one of the firm’s attorneys, I often man the hotline. It often means late night calls and a crabby wife.

PT&B; is located at 202 Broad Street in New Britain, Connecticut. For more information, you can visit them on the web at www.ptblegal.com

The Contributor has a direct relationship to the brand or product described in this content.


Why Planning is Crucial in Garden Design

Some people drop their interest in a garden when the snows of winter come or when the grass turns brown and it doesn’t come back for awhile. This time of dormancy can be a great time to plan what your garden and outside landscaping are going to look like when warm temperatures return. Use the plan time wisely and you will be thrilled with the appearance of the results.

Once good place to start is to consider what type of family activities will be located near the garden site. Some families like to have a volleyball court or a badminton court close at hand. These require some extra room to allow for the chasing of errant balls and bad-minton birds. Or maybe you have a patio that would need extra space when guests gather around for an outdoor meal. Also, walkways to these sport areas should be planned so as to avoid the garden area.

What kind of garden is being planned? It is for flowers or perhaps a butterfly garden. Some people want the garden to be a food source while others Set a clear goal for your garden even If you must divide it into sections to include all you want or maybe to satisfy participating family members. Nearby trees or planned planting of trees should be brought into the planning because of the shade generated and the trees need for nutrients. Do a small survey of what is already present in the garden area like a vine covered latticework that could block the view of the flowers in the garden.

Will there be dogs or other pets likely to frequent the garden area? Having a way to prevent pets from damaging plants could be important.

Make a choice of what kind of materials you intend to use. Wood is always decorative but is sometimes costly and can deteriorate quickly in some conditions whereas a plastic will be cheaper and probably last longer. Is assembly convenience and function more important than appearance? Planning will help you end up with a satisfying and practical structural support for your gardening efforts.

The overall appearance of a garden can be decided by how things are fitted together according to size. Two identical bushes placed side by side is less interesting than two bushes of different but similar heights. A garden perimeter made up of railroad ties along with a wooden fence makes an appealing sight. However, a chain link fence is very functional but lease pleasing to view. Put things together that are complementary. If you have doubt, consult a local nursery or search the internet for some ideas.

Even when things are matched, most of us like to see a little variety. A good way to do this is to use different colors. Dark green shrubs can be brightened up by a light green ground cover.

Garden tools are available for almost any garden activity. Knowing what you need is a good thing to think about and plan for. Once again, the internet is a good place to search for different kinds of tools with a minimum of effort. Also, prices can be located on the internet and compared to local store prices, allowing or a potential of some savings. Good quality tools are usually the best value, so don’t scrimp on tool prices.

Taking pictures of a new garden area “before” and “after” is a happy slide show for many people. The pictures are helpful if you decide that year two of your garden will be a little different from year one. And of course your distant relatives may have an interest in what you’ve been doing with your garden space.

Sunlight is critical to plant growth so you must plan for the location of the most light demanding plants to have several hours of sunlight available. Think about how low in the sky that the sun traverses in the area where you live. Also, the location of your trees or a neighbors trees can affect where you place your garden.

There are quite a few choices to be made when planning a garden. Starting early is really a good idea so all or most of the bases can be touched. Starting early also gives you time to make changes as your plan develops. Plan with excitement and it will show in your growing plants.

The DNA of New Law

Remember those crime shows on television? You know the ones I mean. The bad guys committed the crime, the police investigated the crime, the forensics lab solved tricky scientific problems, and the DAs  prosecuted the crime, and the jury delivered a verdict. Everything was tied a neat bow. In one hour, injustice and justice combined.

Scientists got smarter and tests more sophisticated. DNA testing became commonplace. At first it took months to get the results, then day, hours, and now I am sure there is a show where they swipe the suspect’s hair on their iPhone and get the results before the police can raise the yellow crime scene tape.

DNA testing is the rage. Genealogy companies offer it as a service, you can get tested for health problems, and at least one company offers DNA testing as an employee benefit. I love the genealogy company commercials where the actor says he is part this, part that, and part the other thing. Confirmation that we all have a lot of everybody else in us.

We have the same DNA mixing going on in the legal industry right now. Four hot methodologies share common ancestors: lean thinking, agile (scrum) project management, design thinking, and lean startup. If we look closely, we can see the family resemblance.

Think Lean

Lean thinking sits closest to the roots of this family tree. Bits and pieces of what we call lean thinking started coming together in the 1850s, though of course nothing is new. We can find antecedents to many lean ideas if we look at how people solved nagging problems. But, most people point to the 1970s as the period when many ideas that became known as the Toyota Production System jelled. In 1996, Womack, Jones, and Roos published Lean Thinking. For most, this book was the tipping point. Lean thinking started growing in the United States. It now sits in all industries and as the most popular form of process improvement.

Manage the Project

Project management comes in two basic flavors: heavyweight and lightweight. Heavyweight is the traditional, waterfall approach to project management. Most people touch waterfall project management at some point in their careers. It requires significant planning, proceeds methodically from stage to stage, and works best if the situation calls for tight and sequential process control. Want to build a 100-story skyscraper? Waterfall project management will do the job. Lawyers have found waterfall project management a bit restrictive and not well-suited to a rapidly changing environment.

Lightweight is “agile” project management and includes several of flexible approaches. Scrum is the legal industry’s favorite. Scrum requires small amounts of planning, adapts quickly to changing circumstances, and focuses on doing only what is needed when it is needed. Lightweight project management was born in the software industry and has replaced heavyweight for many projects.

Think Design

Design thinking is gaining traction in the legal industry. It also has an interesting lineage. The version we see most often dates back to the 1960s (though it also has roots dating farther back). Brothers Tom and David Kelley developed it as part of their IDEO design business. As the wheel diagram shows, it has grown as the theories behind design have moved from user participation to users being an integral part of the design process. Design thinkers take a fresh approach to creating solutions, focus on the customer, and use rapid ideation and prototyping to avoid the slow and wasteful linear process to design.

From “A Brief History of Design Thinking: How Design Thinking Came to ‘Be’ ’” by Dr.Stefanie Di Russo. https://ithinkidesign.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/a-brief-history-of-design-thinking-how-design-thinking-came-to-be/

Startup Lean

Eric Ries brought us The Lean Startup and the idea that new ventures should adopt principles that helped old manufacturers. Most lawyers forget that their practices are startups. Client demands evolve, law changes, competition introduces new ideas. A lawyer, regardless of where she practices, should think as an entrepreneur thinks. Avoid waste, prototype and pivot quickly, focus on what your client needs not what you want to deliver, build only what is needed, and stay nimble.

Sharing the DNA

All four methodologies focus on delivering what the customer needs when the customer needs it. This focus ties into a broader theme in business right now, typified by the one-to-one marketing philosophy. Rather than trying to sell a product or service that compromises in many ways to meet the needs of the average consumer, businesses try to sell products and services tailored to the desires of each consumer. The closer the product fits the customer’s needs, the less waste involved.

The following chart, which comes from a paper Roland M. Mueller and Katja Thoring prepared for the 2010 Leading Innovation Through Design Conference, briefly touches on some of the similarities and differences of design thinking and lean startups. Their paper, titled “Design Thinking vs. Lean Startup: A Comparison of Two User Driven Innovation Strategies,” gives you a flavor of how two of the four methodologies bear a family resemblance.

From “Design Thinking vs. Lean Startup: A Comparison of Two User Driven Innovation Strategies,” by Roland M. Mueller and Katja Thoring .

I can buy shoes and apparel that I’ve customized with colors and features. I can use websites to build my car or my furniture, selecting the specific accessories I want. Retailers are famous for marketing one-to-one, sometimes using a bit too much information to guess what the customer needs (the retailer offering discounts on baby items to the teen who hadn’t told her parents she was pregnant).

The four methodologies share a focus on speedy development and revision. In the past, businesses focused on planning. They built business models, planned for contingencies, and worked through as many angles as possible before they made a move. In the present, they try, change, try, change, and repeat. They get something out there, test it, and change direction as fast as they learn from customers. The lean-based methodologies I have named make that rapid approach possible.

We Know What We Don’t Know

The practice of law—the methods and techniques of delivering legal services—has received almost no attention from scholars. Why bother spending time on something everyone does the same way and no one will change? For decades, this omission distorted our understanding of law. How law is delivered impacts the substance of law as much as what law is delivered. Take a simple example. Contracts of adhesion. We sign them every day—every time we click through something that says “by clicking here you acknowledge our terms and conditions.” That method of legal services delivery impacts your rights (embedded somewhere in those terms and conditions) more than the theories of bespoke negotiated contracts.

The odd legal industry culture has received some attention, especially in recent years, as its idiosyncrasies have impeded progress in solving society’s problems (e.g., poor access to civil justice, quality issues, affordability issues). At this time, that culture—resistance to change, failure to adopt technology, lack of affordable legal services—has stirred resentment and anger among citizens. If someone cannot protect their legal rights and loses their job or their house, someone else is to blame. Lawyers play a part in those dramas. Ineffective legal services delivery has more importance than the substance of the law involved.

Four “Leans” and the Law

For the past five years, as interest in project management, process improvement, design thinking, and lean startups, has accelerated, we have seen a kaleidoscope of implementations. Few have a good grasp of how to combine these methodologies into a coherent program for delivering legal services, or choose which ones to emphasize and which to de-emphasize. Think of four musicians each learning a different instrument. One challenge is to learn the instrument, but the second challenge is to learn how to play as a band. We have inexperienced musicians who skip band practice.

This confusion has negative affects on law firms, law departments, and clients. Rather than providing coherent ways to deliver affordable legal services, based on concepts such as efficiency and increasing quality, they are seen as an extra burden to practicing law. Law firms and law departments have not learned how to make these methodologies work together. They have lacked the assistance of scholars to light the path. Some consultants have helped, but most focus on only one or two of the disciplines. A few of us work on researching, synthesizing, and explaining these disciplines combine in law, but it is—admittedly—a slow process.

This leaves the industry with a gap. Many lawyers acknowledge the need for change, but find it difficult to do so without significant help. Other lawyers need convincing. They want proof that if they change, they will succeed. Most stay on the fence. Clients, however, are not on the fence. They want change.

Getting the Band Together

How can we proceed? In the context of the four methodologies I have discussed, I will make some suggestions:

1. Collaborate and Share.Break down the historical barriers between the practicing bar and academia. Scholars need access to practicing lawyers, data, and clients. With this access, they can apply many tools and techniques to identify challenges and point to solutions. Scholars have strong interest in this work, and law firms, law departments, and clients benefit.

2. Focus and Share. A big challenge in evolving legal services is deciding where to focus your energy. Every month someone has a new thing to draw your attention. Metrics. Technology. Process. Project. Doing the basics of a law practice seems to take a full day. Add these new things to the old add-ons (e.g., marketing) and focus drifts. Nevertheless, you must focus. Go T-shaped. Understand your domain in depth, but become familiar with the other areas. If you spread what you need to know among many, the burden on each of you drops.

3. Bend and Share. Inflexibility. Lawyers do what they do because that is what their mentors did, and their mentors, and so on. Decades of doing the same thing worked well for most lawyers, until the late 1980s. The two-humped camel of the legal industry emerged. Large law firm lawyers to the right, everyone else to the left, and a valley between them. As real competition emerges in the legal industry, lawyers must learn to flex, to bend, to adapt. Sharing knowledge and techniques among themselves and with others will be key to coming through this transition and succeeding on the other side.

The Stakes Are Higher Than Large Corporation Legal Fees

Although the legal industry has existed for centuries, it is an immature industry. The business model that brought many lawyers fortunes was fixed a century past. Now, it has a stranglehold on us inhibiting change. The four lean methodologies I described are opening new business models, but we have a long journey ahead. We need to progress faster if we want to keep the profession from slipping deep into irrelevance. That is a worthy reason for change. The compelling reason lies outside the industry. A healthy, functioning, and responsive “legal infrastructure” (as Gillian Hadfield has named it) is essential to our society. Letting that legal infrastructure decay, the way our general infrastructure has decayed, brings a massive threat to all of us.