After six and a half very successful years I am taking a long overdue sabbatical from working daily on Artificial Lawyer. The Legal Innovators conferences in the US and UK will continue as usual with my participation, in fact they will expand, but I will be taking a break from publishing Artificial Lawyer (AL) daily news from early January 2023 until 2024.
The AL website and all its many resources, articles, videos and more, will remain 100% available as a global and free resource for all your research needs. I will not however be adding news stories to the site until I am back ‘in office’ in 2024. This will allow me more time to focus on other projects that have been put off for some time.
What am I going to do during my sabbatical? The answer is that this will be a ‘working sabbatical’, if one can have such a thing, with most of my time focused on new long-form writing projects that in some cases do, and in others don’t, connect to the legal tech world. I will also try and do a bit of travelling, but the main aim is to focus on things that can’t easily be done when running a daily website with all the huge time demands that creates.
As to the ‘why?’, the answer is that every five years or so throughout my career I have taken a big chunk of time off to do other things, that’s just how my long-term life-cycle has always been. AL and its associated business activities have all grown incredibly and the last couple of years have totally surpassed where I thought I’d be in such a short time.
Given the way things have evolved it would be very tempting to just keep on in exactly the same mode, getting up at 6.15AM every morning to write news and think pieces for AL to engage with what is now a global audience of legal innovators, but, one cannot ignore the need to fulfil one’s other aspirations. And there are a couple of things I want to work on, which if I don’t do now will only get delayed to the year after, and so on. At some point one just has to ‘seize the moment’ and do what you want to do and feel driven to do. Hence the sabbatical so I can concentrate for a year on these other projects, while maintaining – and expanding – the less time-intensive activities such as the Legal Innovators conferences.
It’s important to note that this is an ‘au revoir’ in terms of AL news production, and not at all a ‘goodbye’, plus as mentioned I will still be taking part in the Legal Innovators events, as well as remaining open to other speaking gigs and perhaps a small number of consulting roles (although not many). AL will also be providing updates about the events and other things, just not daily news – until 2024.
I love running Artificial Lawyer and because I am returning when the sabbatical is over, there isn’t going to be a big historical look back here at all the great times in the past – and there have been many of those. I am still looking at the present and to the future. There’s lots to be done in the field of legal innovation and for me the sabbatical is all part of a widening out of what I do in this field. So, there is no need to reminisce or get nostalgic
Instead, I’d like to say a massive thank-you to everyone who reads AL, who supports the site, and has made me feel welcome in this incredible legal innovation community that spans the globe. Thank you!
And now, some may have a few questions you’d like to ask and have answered. To help with that I have recorded a short Q&A video with my good friend and fellow traveller through the world of legal innovation, Nick Rishwain, VP at Experts.com. In the video Nick asks plenty of key questions and I try and answer them.
But, here are also some Q&A’s that may be of help in addition to the video explainer.
When does the sabbatical start and when do you come back?
The aim is to mostly round things off by the end of this year (i.e. in about a month), with AL carrying on publishing to the end of the first week of January 2023 to tidy up any loose ends.
I aim to come back in 2024, having taken a year away from daily AL news work to do other things.
What will happen to Artificial Lawyer?
The website of AL will move into ‘Library Mode’. It will in effect become a huge collection of content from six and a half years of articles, think pieces, videos and more. You can browse, read, watch and search this content as much as you like to and I am sure many people will make use of this resource.
For those with a commercial interest; if vendors and law firms wish to, they are welcome to advertise on AL during Library Mode in 2023. This will operate a bit differently, but happy to chat if that’s of interest to you.
Also as mentioned, the Legal Innovators events will continue to grow and AL will make sure to keep you fully informed about the conferences, what they will be about and who is speaking at them. Those update pieces will be published in AL ‘as normal’. What there won’t be until 2024 is any regular news articles by myself.
Why can’t you just find someone else to run AL?
As many of you know, I am the only person that works at AL. Aside from the sponsored think pieces that people provide, I do all the work and write all the articles and record all the videos, handle ad sales, accounting, basic tech needs, editing, design and more – there is a lot of activity that goes into running the site on a daily basis.
So, you may then understandably ask: why not hire someone to takeover while you are on sabbatical? Surely they can run it all while you do other things?
I wish it were that easy. But, in reality it’s really not possible to do this.
Any article published on AL still needs to be carefully edited and checked. If someone was brought in to cover news, for example, I’d still need to read all of those pieces, edit them, and make sure they provided the level of market analysis that AL is known for.
In short, although I’d probably be putting in less hours each day on AL, I’d still very much have my mind focused on daily publication needs. I then would not have the focus I want to have to work on other things for a while – and in that scenario I might as well just keep on doing what I do already if that is the case.
Will you be doing anything else in relation to legal tech other than the Legal Innovators conferences in 2023?
If there is time, I may take on a small number of consulting gigs and some speaking engagements, but generally the goal is to focus on other things for a while. And to be frank, it’s probably best that I just stick to the original plan, otherwise there won’t be much point in taking a sabbatical if I fill up all that time with AL-related activity.
So you are really doing this?
Yes, I am. As mentioned, I usually take a big chunk of time off every five years, and I am long overdue a sabbatical.
I’d add – and of course this is always a personal decision – that taking chunks of time away from the day job can be very good for you, allowing you to develop new skills and insights, then come back with more to offer than if you’d just stayed on without a real break. But, each to their own.
I’m a big believer in having a flexible life and making sure you do everything you want to do in the time that the Gods give us, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to exploring what life has to offer and what we can offer in return. I guess that’s why I am so fascinated by legal innovation. For me half the fun (or maybe more than half) is in the exploration! And that’s ultimately what the sabbatical is all about: exploring and going beyond what one currently knows and does.
Will you keep us updated on what you are doing?
Absolutely. If there are things to share, I will share them.
Will you miss the legal innovation world on sabbatical?
Miss it? I love it – and I won’t be that far away at all as I will still be taking part in the Legal Innovators events. And that’s also why I will be coming back to AL full-time in 2024.
Thank you all again for reading and supporting Artificial Lawyer, I couldn’t do it without you.
But, this is not goodbye, this is au revoir! Plus, I look forward to seeing you all at the Legal Innovator events in 2023!
Richard Tromans, Founder, Artificial Lawyer – Since June 2016