10 books that’ll help you keep your 2018 Resolutions

Andrew Arruda
January 1, 2018

Congratulations everyone! If you are reading this, we are now in 2018.

With each new year, we have a new set of 365 days to work towards our legaltech goals. But just like our other new years resolutions, if we don’t start on those goals early, that 365 number starts counting down awful quickly and we can fall behind. Sometimes, the problem isn’t with getting started, it’s with knowing where to start.

Since co-founding ROSS Intelligence, I’ve found that reading the right books at the right times in my entrepreneurship journey has been enormously helpful for reaching my own personal and professional goals. With that in mind, I wanted to put together a top 10 book list for 2018, to help ensure folks are armed with the best info possible as they face this New Year.

Have a big legaltech goal you want to hit in 2018? Well then check these books out!

1. Mitch Kowalski — The Great Legal Reformation

legal tech books, the great legal reformation

From asking questions about law firm’s leadership methodologies, the implications of non-lawyer ownership of law firms, the increasing role of automation and technology in law and everything in between, Mitch Kowalski provides a must read for 2018.

What is the ‘Great Legal Reformation’ you ask? It’s a move from the current state of affairs to law firms focusing wholeheartedly on their client needs. Kowalski posits that lawyers will not be eliminated but will become specialized knowledge workers who fill gaps that “can’t otherwise be addressed by technology and workflow.” The goal of the reformation? “The legacy of The Great Legal Reformation will be the transformation of legal services from a lawyer-dominated industry into a service that is merely augmented by lawyers.”

Ahead of you getting your reform on and nailing your edicts on a colleague’s door, order Mitch’s book here. Want more Mitch?

2. Jordan Furlong — Law Is A Buyer’s Market: Building A Client-First Law Firm

Law is a Buyers Market, legal tech books

Jordan Furlong, of Law 21 fame, released his latest book in 2017 to much critical acclaim. The message: the times have changed, clients are taking control of the legal market, adapt or die — or as Furlong eloquently put it, “view absolutely everything you do through the prism of the people and the businesses that consult you and purchase your services — your clients.”

While we may not truly be in a full-blown “buyers market” in law right now, the shift is in motion and the coming change is inevitable. Furlong outlines a variety of themes and trends which point towards folks needing to get with the new program: a client-first legal system.

Instead of walking into a legaltech conference not knowing what to talk about, order your own copy of Furlong’s book here. Want to learn more about the mind behind this book? Check out Jordan’s LegalTechLives interview here.

3. Benjamin Barton — Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession

legal tech books, glass half full by benjamin barton

“Why have BigLaw and law schools pursued the same self-destructive strategies?” If you are interested in the answer to that question then you should check out Barton’s data-driven analysis of the current state (note: this book was published in 2015) of affairs within the legal industry. Outlining how things are changing on multiple fronts, “from above,” “from below,” “from the state,” and “from the side,” Barton provides a sobering look at how the old legal ecosystem is failing and an uplifting analysis about the opportunities that lay ahead.

Sneak peak of part of the answer to the question above from Barton’s book, “there is a simple reason for both of these trends: all of these institutions are dominated by roughly the same people, trained and selected from the top of the class at the same elite law schools.” Barton gets it.

Want to prove the Rolling Stones wrong and show that you can get satisfaction? Get your own copy of Barton’s book here.

4. Deborah L. Rhode — The Trouble with Lawyers

legal tech books, the trouble with lawyers by deborah l. rhode

As an attorney, I often get asked by folks whether it is a good idea for them or their children to head to law school and become a lawyer. Now, while I do tell them to check out the resources on Keith Lee’s great blog, AssociatesMind, I also often recommend Rhode’s book, The Trouble with Lawyers.

Think there’s a problem with the fact that US law school students are graduating in record numbers, in record debt, and not finding work while the United States ranks 67th (tied with Uganda) of 97 countries in access to justice and affordability of legal services? Well, so does Rhodes. Through stories, anecdotes and data, Rhodes highlights the pains ahead as well as the opportunities when it comes to legal education in the United States. It’s not about scaring folks away from the profession, but informing them about its current state so they can have their best kick at the can.

So before selflessly taking over a conversation to tell your friends what their smarty pants kids should or shouldn’t be doing with 200k of student debt, inform yourself a bit more and come armed with the facts you need to prove (or disprove) the value of that JD and order Rhode’s book here.

5. Donald Miller — Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

Legal tech book, Building a story brand

Contrary to what Kevin Costner may have heard in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they aren’t necessarily going to come. Miller’s book is all about gearing your message to ensure your customers will listen. For lawyers this means your clients, for legaltech entrepreneurs this means folks who will be buying your software, for legaltech pundits this means refining your brand and ensuring folks “get” what you are trying to communicate. Point is, we can all do with a little bit of fine tuning.

Miller believes that, “the only reason our customers buy from us is because the external problem we solve is frustrating them in some way.” The goal turns on not just solving their customer’s problem, but communicating things in a clear manner because, “if we can identify that frustration, put it into words, and offer to resolve it along with the original external problem, something special happens.”

Before you put your foot in your mouth at a cocktail event while communicating your brand, order Miller’s book here.

6. Sheryl Sandberg — Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

legal tech book sheryl sandberg lean in women work and the will to lead

While women became 50 percent of college graduates in the United States thirty years ago, men continue to hold most leadership positions in government and industry. Sandberg has spent her life taking on this status quo and her work, Lean In, provides a fantastic playbook for women in any industry.

Sandberg’s work is particularly important for those in law to read as while women make up half of law school graduates and associates, 82.6 % of equity partners at firms are men. Lean In is a must read for everyone in legaltech, regardless of gender, as we continue to build a diverse and inclusive culture of excellence. As Sandberg states, “in the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” hear, hear!

Stop reading my words and start reading Sandberg’s, order Lean In here.

7. Harry Beckwith — Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing

Selling the invisible by harry beckwith legal tech book

A marketing book that seems so oddly pointed at the legal space when you dig into it, Selling the Invisible by Beckwith is a must read in 2018 if you haven’t read it yet. When communicating the value of one’s service folks must keep in mind that it’s not about what WE think we provide, but what those paying for our services understand that we provide. While some lawyers and startup entrepreneurs may believe that building a brand is an expensive journey, Beckwith says it best, “building your brand doesn’t take millions. It takes imagination.”

When it comes to failure, Beckwith states that, “there’s little point in killing an idea by saying it might fail. Any idea might fail. If you’re doing anything worthwhile at all, you’ll suffer a dozen failures. Start failing so you can start succeeding.” In an industry that fears failure more than perhaps any others, the legal industry hearing this message of learning from things that don’t work is certainly an important one.

Get with the program and start selling the visible by ordering Beckwith’s Selling the Invisible here.

8. Rohit Bhargava — Non-Obvious 2018 Edition: How To Predict Trends and Win The Future

non obvious: how to predict trend and win the future with the new trends for 2018

As the point of this list is to point folks in the right directions as we take on new challenges this coming year, I included Rohit Bhargava’s 2018 update of his book, Non Obvious: How to Predict Trends and Win the Future. For those not in the know, Georgetown University Professor Bhargava and his team have curated his best-selling list of non-obvious trends by asking the questions that most trend predictors miss each year over the past eight years.

The 2018 edition covers things like augmented reality, virtual reality and 3-D printing (amongst other fun trends) and highlights the power of non-obvious thinking in enhancing not only the success of your business, but also of your impact in your larger community.

What is a non-obvious trend? “a non obvious trend is a curated observation that describes the acceleration present in a new unique way — usually by looking at the intersection of multiple industries, behaviors and beliefs.”

In my mind, the intersection of artificial intelligence, the changing legal landscape, increased client demand for streamlined and transparent legal representation, and the rise of a new wave of lawyers is a non-obvious trend but I think for those reading this list, it may be obvious.

Not reading this book is sooooooo 2017, it’s 2018! Order Bhargava’s book here and start your year off right.

9. Jason Fried — Rework

Rework legal tech books 2018

Want to make the jump and start a legal technology company yourself? Fancy yourself an intrapreneur and want to make a difference within your organization? Looking to understand how to get things in motion and stop just thinking your idea that has the potential to bring about great change? As Rework lays out, “what you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.”

Oftentimes folks within the legal field will be critical of an idea or new way of doing something right off the jump, they may even say, it won’t work “in the real world” — Rework takes this sort of attitude on directly by stating, “that world may be real for them, but it doesn’t mean you have to live in it.”

Don’t think you’re the right person to drive an idea forward? According to Fried and Hansson, “you don’t need an MBA, a certificate, a fancy suit, a briefcase, or an above-average tolerance for risk. You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started.” I’d add a touch of naiveté to keep you going as well but hey, I didn’t write this book, I’m just suggesting it!

Before you START to work, order Fried and Hansson’s Rework here.

10. Clayton Christensen — The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

The innovators dilemma, legal tech book

While I tried to ensure this list remained as fresh as possible, Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma had to have a place on this list because it does do very well when it comes to re-reads. My fellow ROSS cofounder Jimoh Ovbiagele did a fantastic job writing on the Disruptive Innovation in the Legal Industry at the beginning of last year for the ABA and as such, Christensen’s work was something I think makes sense to start 2018 with as a refresher.

At a time where we see the continued transfer of power from established legal technology players to startups such as ROSS, Christensen’s work remains as relevant as ever. Christensen was spot on, when he states, “disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.”

The new legal market is beginning to emerge and it continues to get fueled by disruptive technology companies such as ROSS Intelligence. Giddy up! 2018 is looking more exciting than ever.

Don’t pull a Blockbuster, be a Netflix and order The Innovator’s Dilemma’s here.

Andrew Arruda

CEO & Co-Founder of ROSS Intelligence. International speaker on the subjects of AI, legal technology, & entrepreneurship and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, BBC, Wired, Bloomberg, Fortune, Inc., Forbes, TechCrunch, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times.