In our continuing effort to explore the various nooks & crannies of the legal tech world, we’re turning our attention to the West Coast.
Each entry of our brand-new “Reference Manual of Lists” will explore a new category lurking in the dark recesses of legal tech — you know, the kind that are buried deep down, of the sort you don’t talk about at parties.
For this segment of our series, we’ll explore times that legal tech went Hollywood.
Margaret Atwood invents a legal tech tool. Most people know Margaret Atwood as a prolific writer. Her most famous book, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” has been turned into a popular Hulu television series. But, did you know that Atwood also invented an early version of an e-signature platform, so she wouldn’t have to go to book signings? It’s called “the long pen.” As Atwood discussed on Legal Talk Network, she helps run a company that sells digital signature solutions, including to law firms.
Conan O’Brien lends his endorsement. Luke O’Brien, Conan’s brother, is an attorney who runs a law firm in Westwood, Massachusetts, and has also worked with legal tech startups. Back in the early 2010s, he was an executive for a document automation company called BrightLeaf, and his brother Conan starred in an ad for the product. That content still lives on at the BrightLeaf YouTube channel. Check this out — as this ad may just feature the most famous legal tech spokesperson ever.
Ally McBeal is in legal tech commercials, too. Not to be outdone by late-night host Conan O’Brien, Ally McBeal, the television lawyer played by Calista Flockhart, appeared in ads for Smokeball in the 2010s. In any event, props to my guy, Chad Sands, who conceived of this marketing campaign — which may be the most inventive in legal tech history.
Saul Goodman sells flips phones. Saul Goodman may be the best “criminal lawyer” in television history, active in the “Breaking Bad” universe and spinoff, “Better Call Saul.” Now, when Saul (née Jimmy McGill) isn’t covering up for his drug-involved clients, he’s out there selling “burner” flip phones (that can be easily disposed of) to elements of the criminal underworld. And, if you don’t think that flip phones are part of the legal tech world, let me just correct that misconception.
Then there was that time when Avvo made a television commercial. In the mid-2010s, Avvo – the trailblazing legal directory that had the audacity to rank lawyer on a 1-10 scale – came out with some commercials. They’re actually pretty good — especially when the guy gets dusted by the concrete bags — and, they can serve as a model for how lawyers can advertise: focus on the client’s problem, with subtle branding.
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