Honoring the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, & leaders. Lawyer or nonlawyer, techie or nontechie, anyone is eligible.
Created in 2011, each year the Fastcase 50 award honors a diverse group of lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, judges, law librarians, bar association executives, and people from all walks of life. In many cases, honorees are well known, but in many others, the award recognizes people who have made important, but unheralded contributions.
“Every part of the legal market is changing right now – from law school through every part of the practice,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “That change can be daunting or discouraging to many people. And that’s one reason that our team enjoys celebrating the accomplishments of the Fastcase 50. These are people who inspire us by their intelligence, creativity, and leadership. We hope they will inspire others as well, especially during a time of great change for the profession.”
Faculty of Law, Nagoya University
As a volunteer developer in the open-source Multilingual Zotero software project, Frank Bennett has spent the last five years making sure you never have to format a Bluebook citation manually again. The software extracts structured metadata, or information about a case or law review article, from documents in legal databases—including Fastcase—and also encourages database owners, like courts or legislatures, to add metadata to their documents. While citation-management systems like Multilingual Zotero have long been available in the arts and sciences, this is the first widespread application in the legal field.
Director, Potomac Law Group; Founder, Custom Counsel
In a legal market awash with theories of disruption and new business models, Nicole Bradick has put these models into practice. The firm Potomac Law Group, has managed to avoid a good deal of costly overhead generally associated with large law firms, and offers a bevvy of alternate fee arrangements. Bradick is a sought-after speaker and writer on issues related to the changing legal marketplace and legal innovation, which can’t hurt in her day job overseeing new client acquisition and marketing activities for her firm.
Attorney at InfoLawGroup and Co-host of This Week in Law
As longtime blogger at internetcases, Evan Brown has spent the better part of a decade writing about intellectual property protection, licensing, and the legal issues surrounding social media and online services. In 2012, he joined InfoLawGroup LLP as senior counsel, where he practices in many of the areas he blogs about: emerging trends in the law and technology. Evan is a go-to expert for tech law in the media, from Wired to CNN and BBC, and has for years co-hosted the popular netcast This Week in Law (TWiL).
Founding Attorney at Burton Law and CEO of CURO Legal
Law firms are changing, but no one is quite sure what they’re changing into yet. Chad Burton and his team(s) are working to find out. He left the traditional law-firm model five years ago and started a five-attorney virtual law firm working remotely across the northeast. After speaking regularly at conferences and CLEs about his model and how attorneys can benefit from implementing at least parts of his system, Burton realized that he could continue to improve the practice of law by starting a separate company to help solo and small-firm attorneys in this evolution. Last year, he founded CURO Legal to further that mission.
Author of Typography for Lawyers
When was the last time you thought about the font you used in that memo or brief—perhaps making a quick check of the local rules? Well, if you are Matthew Butterick, typography is not an afterthought—it’s a main idea, perhaps an obsession. While working as an attorney in Los Angeles, Butterick started the blog “Typography for Lawyers,” some of which was published by Jones McClure as a book of the same name. In addition to designing font families – he graduated from Harvard with a major in art – Butterick recently has released a Web-based book, Butterick’s Practical Typography, offering pointers on point size, line spacing, height, and yes, whether you should ever use Times New Roman. (You shouldn’t.)
Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Washington
Robots are no longer the province of science fiction – they surround us every day. Whether it’s surgical robots, drones, or self-driving cars, or autonomous systems that trade stocks and write newspaper articles, machines are playing an increasingly large role in contemporary society. However, the law of robots is still very much rooted in the past. Professor Ryan Calo is an expert in law and emerging technology – particularly drones, self-driving cars, privacy, and of course robots -- and he has written extensively in the field. He has recently called for a new agency to oversee the safe development and maintenance of robotic applications. Calo has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and in 2014 he was named one of the most important people in robotics by Business Insider. He is also an organizer of the annual “We Robot” conference, which focuses on robotics and law.
President and Founder, Conduit Law
In the last two years, Carayiannis has grown his firm, Conduit Law, into a Canadian market leader in providing embedded legal counsel to large corporations. The company is helping to change the perception of contract lawyering from a temporary expense into an area of strategic advantage, and has targeted Fortune 500 companies in Canada in need of experienced lawyers on a particular project, or other part-time basis.
Assistant Professor at the U.C. Berkeley School of Information and Co-Founder of Free Law Project
Along with fellow Fastcase 50 awardee Micheal Lissner, Brian Carver has established the Free Law Project, a non-profit providing free access to primary law, developing legal research tools, and supporting academic research on legal data. A professor of information science and also a lawyer, Carver studies the laws and policies governing technology and information, particularly the technical, economic, social, and legal frameworks that best promote progress and access to information. His research has led him to write on open-source software projects, software licensing, and he also teaches courses on intellectual property law for information professionals.
Professor at the George Mason School of Law and Editor-in-Chief of The Green Bag
Let’s face it: law review articles are pretty dry. So in 1997, Ross Davies and two classmates from the University of Chicago Law School revived an out-of-print legal magazine, The Green Bag, as an “Entertaining Journal of Law,” dedicated to shorter articles on more interesting topics, and with fewer footnotes. Now, 17 years later, Davies remains the Editor-in-Chief of The Green Bag, which has branched out into other publications such as the Journal of Law, the Green Bag Almanac & Reader, as well as Green Bag’s signature line of Supreme Court bobbleheads. This would seem like a full-time job in itself, but Davies also teaches administrative law, contracts, American legal history, and torts at the George Mason School of Law.
The Honorable Stephen Dillard
Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals
Judge Stephen Dillard of the Georgia Court of Appeals is about as active as a judge can be online. Judge Dillard founded the Southern Appeal blog while he was a judicial clerk, and co-founded the Coalition for Darfur blog, to oppose conflict in Sudan and to educate people about the humanitarian crisis in the region. When he’s not on the bench (we hope), Judge Dillard is very active on Twitter, where he discusses “law nerdery, appellate professionalism, mentoring law students & young lawyers, cool music, & all things Harry Potter.”
Legal Technologist, Co-Founder of Program for Legal Tech & Design, Fellow & Instructor of Law at Stanford Law School, Center on the Legal Profession
Stanford Law is a hotbed of activity in legal tech, producing a wave of innovators, conferences on technology in law, and incubating new ideas about the important role that design plays in people’s understanding of law. And quietly, behind the scenes, Ron Dolin is at work creating new opportunities, mentoring, teaching, angel investing, and advising students. Ron is an entrepreneur, an engineer, and a lawyer, although not always in that order. He has a Ph.D. in computer science and was one of the first 100 Google employees, but left Google to get a law degree and to teach legal informatics at Stanford Law. And in the last year, he co-founded the Program for Legal Tech & Design, teaching law and design-school students how to use human-centered design to improve legal services and increase access to justice.
Corporate Counsel, Kia Motors America
Casey Flaherty had a problem – he felt that his bills from outside counsel were bloated, and his hypothesis for the bloat was simple: “that lawyers in general are woefully deficient in using the software tools at their disposal – e.g., Word, Acrobat, Excel,” so it took them longer to perform basic legal work. To test this theory, he created a sample assignment to use as an audit of the basic computer literacy of associates from those outside firms. He administered the test to nine firms – and all failed. Although he concedes the results aren’t scientific, he concluded that there is a lot of waste in legal services, and enough of that waste is because of poor training in software that it’s a problem worth addressing. Now he’s collaborating with Suffolk University Law School’s Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation to make the audit available to law students, as well as other corporate counsel.
Founder and Publisher of Slaw.ca
Simon Fodden founded Slaw – Canada’s pre-eminent online legal magazine – more than nine years ago. This year, his announcement of retirement from the site was met with an outpouring of affection from many in the industry, both because of the sheer volume of his 3,000 posts, but more importantly because of the intellectual community he has built around the site. Simon is an institution; the annual “Fodden Award” for the best Canadian law blog is named in his honor.
Founder and President of LawProse, Professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
Bryan Garner has been called the “greatest lexographer of our time,” and he is on a mission to make legal writing better. He founded LawProse to teach lawyers to write more clearly, persuasively, and simply, which he does in day-long seminars across the country. He may be the nation’s foremost expert on legal writing, with a love of the craft that dates back to his teenage years. In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, Bryan has written more than 18 books, two with Justice Antonin Scalia, and most about legal writing. He has revised and restyled almost every set of Federal Rules, and he pens a monthly column about legal writing for the ABA Journal. The word you’re looking for is “prolific.”
Emerging Technologies Librarian, Library of Congress
Standards are important – they make the Web work, power your e-mail, and they make the law understandable (increasingly to both people and machines). As the Library of Congress’s Emerging Technologies Librarian, Tina Gheen has been working to construct and promote standards in law, whether with the OASIS LegalDocumentML Technical Committee or in coordinating public data challenges to apply the Akoma Ntoso, an open legislative markup framework, to acts of Congress. Standards in law will be key to the usability of open legislative data, and Tina Gheen’s work at the Library of Congress will further that effort.
Editor in Chief, Lawyerist Media, LLC
Sam Glover began the popular Lawyerist blog in 2007, which is simultaneously one of the most informative law blogs and one of the flat-out funniest. Lawyerist, which was once a pastime for him, grew into an occupation, and now it’s a go-to resource for lawyers everywhere. Sam, who maintains an appellate and motion practice consultancy, also finds time to write for the site and engage in comments on posts (yes: he reads the comments). He is also a frequent speaker on law practice management and technology issues – he knows his stuff about the tech to run a small firm, since he formerly owned and operated a solo consumer-law practice.
Co-Founder and Publisher, SCOTUSBlog
Tom Goldstein is one of the nation’s most experienced Supreme Court practitioners. (He has personally argued 31 cases in the past 15 years.) SCOTUSblog, which he co-founded in 2003, is one of the most widely read, and respected, sources of news and analysis of Supreme Court decisions; it is the only blog to ever receive the Peabody Award. On days when major decisions are handed down, tens of thousands of people flock to the site’s live-blog coverage. Goldstein also remains an occasional contributor to the site. Side benefit: occasionally thousands of people will mistake SCOTUSblog for the Supreme Court and send angry, pointed tweets. Which Tom answers as the Court, brilliantly.
CEO, SeyfarthLean Consulting
It’s now a cliché to say that large firms have to adapt – and yet very few firms are really doing that. Seyfarth Shaw has started an in-house consultancy, SeyfarthLean, which works with in-house legal departments to help them reduce costs, improve quality, mitigate risk, and enhance efficiencies. The group combines the core principles of Lean Six Sigma with consulting on technology, knowledge management, process management, and alternative fee structures. Before entering the business of legal consulting, Ken was, among other things, general counsel at several large corporations, where he first began using value fee arrangements, legal project management tools, and in the process reduced his legal department’s expenses by 50% while maintaining growth.
Director and Founder, BarNet
Michael Green is the director and founder of BarNet, an Australian non-profit that has created a free legal research tool called Jade for Australian law. Michael is an open law pioneer, showing that where open law is made available, entrepreneurs will build great apps to work with it. Jade isn’t just a simple search engine – it also includes intelligent tools to filter, annotate, create alerts, and share the law – all in a free research tool.
Co-Founder and CEO, Casetext
There are lots of high-quality, crowdsourced resources in the world. Why not legal research? Jake Heller started Casetext with the mission of making the world’s law free and understandable, and one of the ways the company will do that is to use open annotation as a powerful lever. Casetext allows users to tag, annotate, and mark up judicial opinions, crowdsourcing the citator function as well. The company might not employ 8,000 attorney editors, but with 1.1 million lawyers in America, maybe it doesn’t need to. Jake was named to Forbes’s 2014 30 Under 30 for Law and Policy, and previously served as the President of the Stanford Law Review.
Senior Online Editor, Forbes
Kashmir “Kash” Hill joins the ever-growing list of Above the Law editors and alums named to the Fastcase 50. After leaving Above the Law to join Forbes in 2010, Kash doubled-down on her efforts to make the public aware of “The Not So Private Parts” where technology and privacy collide. She has a special knack for understanding complex areas of law and policy, and explaining them simply, but without taking shortcuts. While many others are soundbiting important policy issues, Kash writes substantively about them, getting the story, and the backstory.
The Honorable Geraldine S. Hines
Associate Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Recently appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to join the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Justice Geraldine Hines is the first woman of color to serve on the state’s highest court. After law school, Justice Hines earned a fellowship at MIT, where she studied policy initiatives addressing the serious issue of police misconduct in communities of color. It was to be the start of a long career as a civil rights lawyer and educator. Justice Hines doesn't restrict her efforts to the United States either — through various organizations she's also served as an election monitor and investigated human rights abuses around the world.
Partner at Vector IP and Founder of Intermix Legal Group
Leila is an innovator who creates new opportunities for others. As an experienced patent attorney, she also wanted mothers balancing hours between their family and law firm to strike a better a work-life balance. So she created Intermix Legal Group, a platform that allows attorneys who want to work fewer hours, specifically attorney moms, to be able to do so while taking care of their children. The firm allows attorneys to contribute to the legal community and continue to practice law by working on part-time projects from their homes for other law firms.
Director of the Practice Management Assistance Program, South Carolina Bar
Courtney Kennaday runs the Practice Management Assistance Program for the South Carolina Bar, which advises its members about how to use technology and process to run their practices more effectively. Courtney has seen the profession from multiple angles, as a lawyer, a law librarian, and as an IT director, so she brings many different perspectives to her counseling work. For many years, she co-authored the popular Sites for Sore Eyes column for the GPSoloTechnology eReport with Jim Calloway. As a speaker, she has appeared at ABA TECHSHOW during three decades. Recently she was nominated for induction as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the profession, and her PMAP program is ranked by the ABA as one of the top five state bar resources in the country.
Professor of Law at the George Washington University
Orin Kerr is a professor at the George Washington Law School and leading scholar on computer crime law and internet surveillance, both of which have had a pretty hot year. He analyzes law and technology issues in the federal courts at the Volokh Conspiracy and SCOTUSblog. And Orin should know the issues. In addition to his teaching, he’s argued before the Supreme Court, served as a trial attorney in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, and he clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Founder, Legal Transformation Institute
Legal technology is having a moment, and Josh Kubicki wants to throw some fuel on the fire. Josh is the founder and President of the Legal Transformation Institute, which designs, invests in, and innovates new business models for legal services. Josh organized LexRedux, a legal startup event that coincided with Reinvent Law New York, offering legal entrepreneurs advice from a panel of seasoned executives; and Law Angels, a syndicate of angel investors for legal tech.
Managing Partner, Watershed Legal Services
Casey Kuhlman is a practicing lawyer and social entrepreneur working in Somaliland, and highly innovative software developer, working on legal applications of Ethereum, a decentralized blockchain network that allows lawyers to develop and deploy self-executing smart contracts, and possibly even Judging-as-a-Service. Ethereum is the foundation and vocabulary for machine-readable contracts. Besides being an innovator and programmer himself, Casey is inspiring other lawyer-coders to innovate. David Zvenyach, a fellow Fastcase 50 honoree, recently credited Casey with inspiring him to develop his Legal Markdown Editor.
Director and Professor of Law at the Schmid Law Library, University of Nebraska College of Law
Rich Leiter has done pioneering research into citation analysis tools – indeed some of his ideas can be seen in legal research services like Fastcase and Fastcase 50 honoree Jake Heller’s service Casetext. In particular, Rich wondered: is there a superset of cases that have been cited frequently by law review articles, and could you use those citation relationships to give special weight to certain opinions in legal research? (Now you can filter for law review authoritativeness in both services.) For years, he was the co-host of the podcast Law Librarian Conversations. Rich has deep experience in law and authority – he’s been a law librarian for almost 30 years, and his book, National Survey of State Laws, is like a Rosetta Stone for 50-state surveys, comparing state laws across many different topics.
Founder, Potomac Law Group
Ben Leiber created a non-traditional path for lawyers by intentionally building a law firm with low overhead. After recognizing the high level of legal talent looking for an alternative to traditional big firm life, Ben founded the Potomac Law Group, with the idea that a dispersed firm operating in a low overhead environment would be an ideal situation for these lawyers to practice law. Equally as important, Ben believed that clients would benefit by being able to engage tremendous legal talent at a fraction of industry rates. The market reception to Potomac Law has driven the firm’s fast growth: after starting in 2011, it now has 50 practicing lawyers and full-service offerings for its 200+ clients.
Francesca Di Lisa
Chief Operating Officer, We Have the Future!
Francesca and her We Have The Future! co-founder Marco Mari (also honored among the 2014 Fastcase 50) developed a legal information portal called legalPAD, and they noticed during the process the importance of design. Even though they were students, they thought it would be important for European lawyers to include business practices, economics, and design to the practice of law. So they built it. Di Lisa and Mari raised money for a summer camp at a farm on the outskirts of Venice; they traveled the world meeting entrepreneurs, legal designers, and law professors. Then they invited global leaders in the field, and legal informatics students from across Europe to their summer camp, We Have the Future! All in a year’s time.
Co-Founder, CourtListener and Free Law Project
Mike Lissner is the lead developer and Co-Founder of CourtListener, which is part of the Free Law Project (founded with fellow Fastcase 50 honoree Bryan Carver). CourtListener provides free public access, including an open API, to a huge collection of nationwide judicial opinions. CourtListener also collects new opinions daily from a broad range of courts, and powers several legal research startups. In May 2014, the Free Law Project announced that it would be partnering with Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy to manage the operation and development of RECAP, a public domain archive of PACER documents.
Founder, Neota Logic
John Lord leads the pack of innovators at Neota Logic. In recent months, John's been instrumental in providing vision and building platforms that advance the law. For example, Neota's been engaged to develop an interactive portal for New Mexico legal aid in a project funded by the Legal Services Corporation; and has collaborated with Georgetown University Law Center on three semester-long courses in which students build Neota Logic applications serving the public interest; partnered with the Australian law firm Plexus. Neota's collaborated with the world's largest employment and labor law firm, Littler Mendelson, to develop a web-based "pay or play" tool called the Healthcare Reform Advisor, and has anchored development of SeyfarthLean Consulting’s DragonDisclosure system for crowdfunding.
Co-Founder, We Have the Future!
Marco Mari is exploring the intersection of law, economics, and design, as an application developer, but also as an event organizer. Together with his co-founder (and fellow Fastcase 50 honoree) Francesca De Lisa, Marco created the Italian service legalPAD, then collaborated to create a legal tech design summer camp, We Have the Future!, at a farm outside Venice. Participants from around the world are collaborating on the design of legal tech’s future, at one of the world’s design capitals.
Susan Taylor Martin
President of Legal Business, Thomson Reuters
On January 1, Susan Taylor Martin became President of Thomson Reuters Legal; she is a veteran of Thomson Reuters, but not of the legal division. She had previously been running TRL and Practical Law Corporation in England and Ireland, but most of her career (spanning more than 20 years) had been at Reuters. She is the first woman to serve as President of Thomson Reuters Legal, a big ship that must turn quickly: she is charged with executing Thomson Reuters’s new focus on software solutions over pure legal publishing.
Senior Director of Research Information, LexisNexis
What will books of the future look like? Although nobody knows for sure, Scott Meiser will guide part of that progress. As the Director of Product Planning for LexisNexis, Scott has been responsible for the company's implementation of its eBook program – and eBooks have been a moving target, to say the least. Scott has worked tirelessly with librarians to create a product that can be administered by librarians on behalf of their patrons – one that works in real law firms and other types of law libraries. Scott has also been instrumental in the recent launch of the Lexis eBook Users Group where clients can share experiences and make recommendations about improving the product, and he has worked to guide the evolution of eBooks at LexisNexis.
Assistant Director, Practice Management Advisory Service, DC Bar
Dan Mills the Assistant Director of the DC Bar’s Practice Management Advisory Service – the Bar’s resource for advice from tech to accounting. Dan leads a monthly business bootcamp, Basic Training & Beyond, designed to transition attorneys into solo and small firm practice. The program has won an award from the ABA's Standing Committee on Professionalism. His program at the DC Bar is instrumental in equipping and empowering lawyers to advance in the legal profession and encouraging legal entrepreneurs.
Founder and Executive Director, New Media Rights
Art Neill founded New Media Rights, a non-profit housed at California Western School of Law, that provides one-to-one legal services to creators, entrepreneurs and internet users whose projects require intellectual property law expertise. New Media Rights also collects and rolls up the advice it gives to individuals and creates how-to videos and talks for artists. The group also assists organizations that promote access to public information, more business and government accountability. When not running New Media Rights, Art also teaches Internet & Social Media Law at California Western School of Law.
Justice Sarah Parker
Chief Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court
Chief Justice Sarah Parker has served three terms on the North Carolina Supreme Court, and since 2006, as its Chief Justice. She is only the third woman to serve on the Court. In August 2014, she will reach the mandatory retirement age, after serving on the Court on and off since 1992. During a very polarized time, in a state with elected judges, Chief Justice Parker has been a vocal advocate for an independent judiciary.
Founder, 1991 Ventures; Co-Founder and CEO, Pangea3
Legal entrepreneurship is booming, and David Perla can rightly say that he saw it coming. David co-founded and ran legal process outsourcing giant Pangea3 to more than 1,000 employees around the world, before the company was purchased by Thomson Reuters. He has characterized the boom in legal tech startups, and funding for them, as the pre-Cambrian moment just before diversification and rapid evolution – as evidenced by the estimated $458M invested in 414 legal startups recently. But it’s not all Utopia. David’s advice to legal startups is direct: If you want to survive, learn to sell.
CEO, Law Pundits LLP
Vishnu Prasad, CEO and Managing Partner of Law Pundits LLP, is re-engineering legal education in India and the Middle East by providing continuous legal education and harmonizing legal education in those areas of law where standardizing is possible. His firm fills a gap in legal education for the record number of lawyers hanging their shingle to practice. Vishnu’s passion for education goes beyond the on line classroom. Through Law Pundits, he created the first ever legal education and services expo in India, LEASE 2014, to bring together the latest technologies and higher education for lawyers and law students in India.
Chief knowledge Officer and Shareholder, Littler
Scott Rechtschaffen is changing the way Littler, the world's largest employment and labor law firm, is delivering legal services to clients. Scott leads the nation’s largest legal Knowledge Management (KM) department and combines his 25 years of experience in labor and employment law with technology know-how to make his firm's work more cost effective. Scott has worked to develop partnerships combining Littler's subject matter expertise with software companies and legal publishers to create innovative news services for clients and the global employer community. His approach to legal services has gained industry-wide recognition and made innovation one of Littler's key strengths and competitive advantages. Scott is one of ILTA’s Knowledge Management Champions for his achievements in advocating and supporting technology and innovation in the legal community.
Matt Spiegel co-founded practice management software platform MyCase while he was a practicing criminal defense attorney. He wanted a good, web-based tool to manage his office, so he created one, building MyCase into one of the leading companies in the space before its acquisition in 2012 by AppFolio. Matt remains on the MyCase team today building the product, as well as writing and speaking around the country about creating a more efficient, effective practice.
Creator and Publisher, TechnoLawyer
TechnoLawyer has grown from a popular listserver back in the 1990s into a network of professionally edited law practice email newsletters that are considered a must-read for lawyers interested in management, marketing, and technology. TechnoLawyer's family of publications consists of product announcements and reviews, business and tech Q&A from peers, and separate newsletters tracking news and industry analyses for firms large and small (in separate newsletters). There's also a newsletter specifically for litigators that covers all aspects of litigation, including legal research.
Assistant Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law
Colin Starger is putting Supreme Court decisions on the map in a new way. As the principal on the SCOTUS Mapping Project, Colin is using software-driven process to plot Supreme Court doctrine and case genealogy in order to visually show the relationships of influential court decisions on precedent and how dissents contribute to the development of the law. We’re huge nerds about data viz – what’s not to love?
President, State Bar of Texas
Lisa M. Tatum is the founder and owner of LM Tatum, PLLC in San Antonio with a practice that focuses on corporate, education, employment and public finance law. She became the first elected African-American president of the State Bar of Texas and is leading and promoting civic and education projects. Lisa is instrumental in spearheading projects and partnerships including the Texas education project, "I was the first, Vote for me!", for students, teachers, and attorneys. Lisa serves as outside and general counsel to corporate clients, public and private, as well as individuals, and served as a Bexar County Assistant Criminal District Attorney in San Antonio.
Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law
To call Eugene Volokh a law professor, while technically true, sort of misses the point. In 2002, he founded one of the first and most influential law blogs, the eponymous Volokh Conspiracy. Today, the blog hosts a roster of prominent law bloggers. VC has been one of the most popular, celebrated, and award-winning blogs for more than a decade. But the ultimate validation came this past year, when the new, Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post signed a deal to host the site (and to put its posts behind a Post paywall after 6 months).
What tools will lawyers of the future use? Although it’s hard to say with specifics, it’s a safe bet that lawyers will do more number crunching. That’s the approach taken by Baltimore lawyer Byron Warnken, who created the Injury Lawyer Database by collecting and analyzing millions of judicial opinions from Maryland courts, then using that data to rank and score the effectiveness of the lawyer in the cases. Byron is an advocate for open law – which makes sense, because he’s using it to help consumers make more informed decisions about the lawyers they hire. As open law advocates often say: if you make the underlying data available, people will create all sorts of unexpected applications with it. Byron Warnken is living proof.
Justice Don Willett
Justice, Supreme Court of Texas
Justice Don Willett has a gold-clad resume: twice-elected Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, former White House Director of Law and Policy, Clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after he earned a J.D.-M.A. at Duke. But Justice Willett built his career on a foundation of hard work. His parents never graduated from high school, and growing up in a 35-person town in Texas, he worked to support his family after his father passed away. As a kid, he competed in rodeos and was a professional drummer. Today he’s one of America’s top jurists, as well as author of one of the wittiest Twitter accounts, with broad-ranging commentary on law, politics, and culture.
Policy Analyst, Sunlight Foundation and Co-Founder of DC Legal Hackers
Rebecca Williams is an open government advocate, both in her day job at the Sunlight Foundation, and in her work organizing DC Legal Hackers. Rebecca co-founded DC Legal Hackers to bring together a broad range of people interested in building apps using the law – software developers, lawyers, publishers, civil servants, and others, who might not otherwise meet in their professional lives. The group’s members have made some important strides in opening municipal codes, advocating for Congress to use structured budget data, and building powerful apps on top of open data sets. Rebecca was recently named one of 10 Women to Watch in Legal Tech by the ABA Journal.
General Counsel, Council of the District of Columbia
There are precious few engineers who understand law, or lawyers who understand engineering. David Zvenyach is the rare combination of both – and as a bonus, he also works as the General Counsel of the DC Council. In 2012, when a software developer asked for a copy of the D.C. Code to host as a public service, David didn’t have one to give, under a contract with the District’s Code publisher. But instead of stonewalling, David worked with the developer at the end of the publishing contract to build an open-source, restriction-free version of the D.C. Code, and he released the software under an open-source license on GitHub. David is a hacker and a tinkerer – he builds scores of useful apps himself using government data. But he is also a model for other open law advocates inside government.
Each year, Fastcase honors the most inspiring, courageous, and noteworthy innovators in law with the Fastcase 50 award. Tell us your story, or nominate a deserving hero, friend or colleague, to be part of the annual Fastcase 50.
Lawyer or nonlawyer, techie or nontechie, anyone is eligible.
The deadline to submit a nomination for 2020 is June 7th. Nominate someone today!
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