The Fastcase 50 for 2012 was announced on Thursday, earlier than last year presumably to coincide with AALL 2012, the American Association of Law Libraries conference currently taking place in Boston.
According to the press release, the Fastcase 50 “recognizes the smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law” and were nominated by legal and legal technology industry leaders, law firm managers and other individuals.
From Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase: “We get to recognize our heroes, the great thinkers, creators, and risk-takers who make this such an interesting time to work in legal tech. Some of the winners are well known, but others deserve to be better known. And today we take a moment to recognize them.”
The full list of very worthy Fastcase 50 winners with bios is here. Here are a few of the winners who stood out to me, including some Slaw regular contributors:
Mary Alice Baish, Assistant Public Printer, Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. Until just over a year ago, Mary Alice had served for years as the top lobbyist for the American Association of Law Libraries, advocating for information policy before the federal government. But in 2011, she was appointed to serve in a top role in the GPO, setting policy and strategy for the Government Printing Office and implementing President Obama’s Open Government Directive. Now she’s making information policy for the federal government. Mary Alice is also a founding member of OpenTheGovernment.org (OTG.org), an organization created to promote democracy and end Government secrecy.
Tom Boone, Reference Librarian, Loyola Law School. Tom Boone is part librarian, part designer, part pop-culture tastemaker. He is the vanguard of a new generation of law librarians who aren’t afraid to get their hands on the code. Tom has taught information professionals for years how to use Cascading Style Sheets, Drupal, the social web, eBooks, and other tools to connect people and organize information better, smarter, and faster.
Greg Castanias, Global Library Partner, Jones Day. Greg Castanias is charged with creating a single library culture at Jones Day, a firm with 30 offices around the globe. But he has been recognized more for his speaking and writing about how broken the legal publishing business is, and how out of alignment its billing is with the economics of law firms and their clients. Greg has advocated greater transparency and understanding in the bills of legal publishers, as well as an ethic rooted in great customer service.
Jason Eiseman, Librarian for Emerging Tecnologies, Yale Law School. Jason Eiseman might have the coolest legal information job in America, the Librarian for Emerging Technologies at Yale Law School. Jason thinks about what lies ahead, and how we can use it intelligently to make our legal lives easier – then he teaches others. Jason has done extensive work on eBooks, and how they might change legal publishing.
William S. Hein, Jr.CEO, William S. Hein & Co. Few companies have exemplified the transition from print to digital quite like William S. Hein & Co. A bindery and printer with roots in the 1920s, Hein has grown through acquisition and expanded strategically over the years. Beginning with some of the best law review titles in the business, Hein expanded first to microfilm, and now to its flagship online product, Hein Online. Today, Hein’s eponymous business, handed down from the founder to his son Bill Hein, Jr., serves every law school in America, and customers in more than 150 countries.
Matt Homann, Founder, LexThink. Matt Homann has been asking hard questions. What really sets you or your firm apart from others? If your client could design your bill, what would it look like? Matt writes, speaks, and hosts retreats designed to help lawyers deliver a more service-like service. He also hosts the annual LexThink.1 conference (formerly Ignite Law) at ABA Techshow, a series of short talks about big topics in law, with slides advancing every 30 seconds. You can find Matt’s thoughts and inspirations at his blog, the [non]billable hour.
Denise Howell, Lawyer, Blogger, and Host of This Week In Law (TWiL). Denise Howell is one of the pioneers of legal news on the Web. She is the host of the webcast This Week in Law, one of the first and best web podcasts about legal news, and she writes for ZDNet’s Lawgarithms blog. In addition, Denise’s blog Bag and Baggage was one of the first legal blogs in 2001. The Huffington Post has named Denise one of the “Women in Tech You Need to Follow on Twitter,” and did we mention that she also maintains an appellate, IP, and tech practice at the same time?
Mitchell Kowalski, Author and Sole Practitioner. Mitch Kowalski is an innovative thinker, lawyer, writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, ABA best seller “Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century” and frequently speaks with legal managers about re-engineering the practice of law for today’s digital marketplace. Mitch teaches the next generation of lawyers and industry leaders about legal innovation through courses at the University of Ottawa Law School and at Western University Law School, and he blogs regularly on legal innovation for Slaw.ca.
Peter Martin, Dean Emeritus, Cornell Law School; Co-founder, Cornell Legal Information Institute. Peter Marin co-founded the first law site on the Internet, Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII). He’s served as dean of Cornell Law School and led it into the digital age and or over a quarter century. In a larger sense, Peter is the Dean of the legal internet. Peter’s focus is addressing online access to electronic court records, the importance of print-independent citation methods, replacement of print for “official” case law publication, and major institutional factors that have inhibited court innovation in the U.S.
Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder, Clio. Jack Newton is one of the pioneers of cloud-based practice management. He frequently writes, presents, and educates others on mobile lawyering. Jack serves on the board of the International Legal Technology Standards Organization (ILTSO), where he’s helping craft standards for law office technology. He also co-founded and is acting President of the Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA), a consortium of leading cloud computing providers with a mandate to help accelerate the adoption of cloud computing in the legal industry. Together with his fellow Fastcase 50 award winner Larry Port, Jack practically invented cloud computing for lawyers. Lawyers were initially skeptical about matter management in the cloud, but it is in part because of his effective advocacy, and his ethical stewardship, that lawyers trust their matters to the cloud.
Sabrina Pacifici, Founder, Editor and Publisher, LLRX.com; Blogger, beSpacific.com. Sabrina Pacifici was a “first mover” of legal tech. For 20 years, she served as the Director of Library and Research Services at the Washington office of Sidley Austin. After creating and serving as publisher of the journal PLL Perspectives in 1989, she pivoted in 1996 to create the Law Library Resource Exchange, or LLRX.com — the definitive online reference guide for legal research. Technolawyer’s Neil Squillante has summed it up best: “Just as James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, Sabrina Pacifici is the hardest working woman in legal research.”
Roger Skalbeck, Associate Law Librarian for Electronic Resources & Services at the Georgetown University Law Library, President of LLSDC. Roger is a digital “maker,” building apps and software that are pioneering in legal information systems. Together with fellow Fastcase 50 awardee Jason Eiseman, Roger also conducts an annual ranking of the top 200 law school home pages. This year, Roger co-hosted the first “Iron Tech Lawyer Competition,” as part of the Technology, Innovation, and Law Practice class at Georgetown Law (which he teaches with FC50 winner Tanina Rostain), in which students competed to build applications that expand access to justice.
Richard Susskind, Author, The Future of Lawyers; President of Society for Computers and Law. William Gibson once said, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” He may well have been talking about Richard Susskind, who appears to be already living there and waiting for the rest of the legal industry. His books on the impact of informationtechnology have influenced public policy, legal service industry, and a generation of lawyers around the world. Richard challenges the legal industry to rethink the way we’ve practiced law and explains how the market pull towards the commoditization of legal services and the pervasive development and uptake of new and disruptive legal technologies is shaping the profession.
Congratulations to all the winners!