State Bar Defense and Ethics Attorney Megan Zavieh, Part II – My Shingle

This is the next part of a two part job interview with Megan Zavieh of Zavieh Law  and  The Playbook: The California Bar Self-control Process Practice Information  for attorneys symbolizing themselves in California disciplinary proceedings. You can browse Portion I right here.

As soon as you had the thought for The Playbook, did you take actions to validate the thought and if so, what did you do?

I’d like to say I approached this with a serious organization perspective, but I really a great deal dove correct in.  I was so enthusiastic by this prospect that I did only minimum validation.

I did speak it out with a group of attorneys I discover to be significantly smarter than me – the folks at TBD Regulation and Lawyerist.  It was supremely beneficial simply because they pushed me previous my tactic of “this will have to be wonderful simply because I consider it is” and built me consider through facets of the project I wasn’t seeing.  Outside viewpoint was important.

The other issue I did was appear more challenging to see if just about anything like this was by now on the sector.  I knew my colleagues weren’t promotion self-help help companies, but because my concentrate improved to an true product or service, I wanted to make positive a person hadn’t by now done it.  We didn’t discover just about anything.  (Of system that also built me nervous that I was barking up the erroneous tree.)

I did commit a little bit of time seeking at other digital products and solutions, not just law-related kinds, to see how they were being delivered and what type of content they involved.


You wrote an superb, complete article for Lawyerist on the nuts and bolts of making the Playbook. What impressed me most, having said that, is that you set it all together in 4 months. How did you maintain the project on monitor even though balancing the calls for of apply and lifestyle?

I realized that devoid of a deadline, this project was heading to take on a lifestyle of its have and would never ever be accomplished.  So I set a very first draft deadline of my children’s previous day of school.  I put in every morning in the library – overall silence, no phones – and hammered out a tough draft of one particular chapter each day.  With a workable bite sizing piece for each day, I had a tough draft very promptly.  Then we looked at the calendar and reported by the time the children go again to school in August, we would have it done.  I announced this day on an episode of Lawyerist’s podcast for public accountability.

To get this done more than a summer season essential a whole lot of scheduling and a whole lot of delegation.  I program actually very well, but delegating has been challenging for me.  It is a thing I work on consistently.  This project was wonderful for instructing me how a great deal far better work can be when I delegate to persons who know more than me about certain jobs.  I delegated to an editor who came again more than after with important revisions that built the compound more robust.  A website designer took more than the design aspect and built the membership site actually wonderful.  And a graphic designer took on the true textual content to make it sing.

Whilst these gurus were being performing their positions, I could continue my day-to-day apply with the project nonetheless moving ahead.


What variety of response have you gained from the public, colleagues and the bar about the Playbook?

The response has been actually positive from my colleagues.  They have been the most supportive.  The bar has never ever reported just about anything to me officially, so I can’t say that I know what they are considering at all.  The public has been a little bit of a challenging promote.  I consider I nonetheless have to have to teach the sector on the existence of the product or service and how it is a massive action up from staying uninformed and self-represented.


What are your ambitions for the Playbook? In which would you like the service  a few yrs from now – and could you see the Playbook supplanting the bespoke legal illustration that you supply?

I never consider the Playbook will ever supplant the illustration I supply.  These are two distinct markets – the Playbook is supposed for persons who are never ever heading to employ the service of me or any other Condition Bar defense attorney to stand for them.  They both never consider they have to have the help or can’t afford to pay for it.  My illustration companies will nonetheless be wanted.

What I want to see is the Playbook increase in notoriety to the level that no self-represented attorney goes into Condition Bar Court devoid of it.  Any attorney seeking to help a close friend in issues need to have it as well.  I would like to see the on the internet group increase so that self-represented attorneys have each other to bounce suggestions off of, learn from, and help.

I’d also adore to see it take off in other states.  I am admitted in a few many others, so I suppose I could publish Playbooks in New York, New Jersey, and Ga, but my experience is actually in California.  I hope my colleagues in other states who know their programs very well will publish Playbooks for their self-represented respondents.


As a legal ethics attorney, I’m positive that you produced an ethically compliant site. But numerous attorneys are nervous about setting up self-help internet sites or consumer message boards both simply because of problems about malpractice publicity or ethics troubles like inadvertently making an legal professional-shopper partnership, breaching confidentiality or jogging into conflicts. Can you share some of the ethics pink flags that attorneys making a product or service like The Playbook for a more purchaser-oriented apply – e.g., trusts & estates, tiny organization, spouse and children law – need to be aware of – and more importantly, what are the remedies?

A person of the points I do in my apply is suggest attorneys who are making new products and solutions and techniques of delivering legal companies.  I discover that new troubles crop up depending on the creativeness of the attorney.  In typical, the biggest problems are all those you mentioned – formation of legal professional-shopper partnership, confidentiality, and conflicts.  These are troubles we can work through, but we do have to use widespread feeling and move forward cautiously.

A person way to avoid complications is only to make a purchaser-going through product or service, which means one particular that the purchaser buys and consumes a great deal like they would invest in a e book at the bookstore.  This is a one particular-way move of information and facts, and even though that has constraints, it is also really safe and sound.  In the conditions and ailments for access to the information and facts, people (recognize they are not “clients”) will admit that they are not forming an legal professional-shopper partnership with the writer of the elements, that parties in conflict with them might order the similar elements, and that they need to not supply private information and facts to the writer.

But this one particular-way street is often not what creators of digital products and solutions want to develop.  We want to interact with the people, discover out what information and facts they have to have that we are not still supplying, set them in touch with each other to cultivate an energetic group, and have two-way communication.  In a two-way partnership, there are more opportunity complications.

In this vein, my biggest piece of information for anyone thinking about making a group of customers is to concentrate the function of the group on a thing other than legal information.  Make it a location for customers to come together or help.  What ever they are dealing with that led them to be a shopper will convey with it plenty of stress.  They can reward greatly from an outlet to vent about their ex-partner, previous shopper, awful prosecutor, or other important stressor in their scenario.  For legal information, they need to change to their legal professional (whether that is the creator of the digital product or service or not).

As to the legal information aspect, any time you see that in the product you are building, there is a risk of a consumer supplying sensitive information and facts through the product’s system, there is a massive pink flag.  Any provision of sensitive information and facts means the consumer might think there is an legal professional-shopper partnership, the consumer might have been led into a realistic expectation of the confidentiality of that information and facts, and a different consumer in conflict with the supplier of the information and facts might have access to the sensitive facts.

For case in point, the discussion board on the Playbook could be an ethics minefield.  Buyers may possibly write-up on the discussion board facts of their scenario, queries about their specific information, and even facts that they are attempting to maintain out of their courtroom issue.  If a state bar counsel selected to order a membership to the site, that sensitive information and facts could be compromised.

I do hope people to employ widespread feeling, and Playbook’s people are all attorneys who need to comprehend these principles, but widespread feeling is sadly uncommon and persons below wonderful stress do not act meticulously or rationally.  So disclaimers and acknowledgments grow to be important.  Buyers are reminded not to write-up private information and facts.  I set it up with disclaimers about legal professional-shopper interactions – you do not form one particular with me when you sign up for.  I also never write-up on the discussion board or give legal information there.  It is a location for people to link with each other.  When I have attorney customers attempting to set up Facebook groups or other on the internet communities for customers, I suggest the similar issue – the attorney need to not write-up on the discussion board or supply information and facts which could be considered legal information.

For some purchaser-oriented tactics, the dangers will be scaled-down than they are in litigation arenas.  For case in point, in a trusts and estates apply, an on the internet group of customers would appear more probably to go over tax outcomes, estate plans, the hottest intestate movie star, how to make funeral preparations, and non-adversarial issues.  But in any litigation apply, the similar problems as I have with the Playbook would exist.


Dependent on your Lawyerist article, I know that you had some familiarity with technology. Would it have been beneficial to know how to code or build a web-site from scratch? Now that the site is in location, do you regulate it on your have, or does it have to have ongoing tech help?

I am proficient at technology and able of making a web-site, and I to begin with was heading to develop the Playbook site on my have.  Nevertheless, as I mentioned my have to have to delegate more effectively, I realized that this was a thing I need to not be investing my time performing.  For one particular issue, making the Playbook was a money cost, not a get, so I could not afford to pay for to commit the many if not-billable several hours developing a web-site that would appear like a 7th grader produced it (okay, a 7th grader can probably make it appear far better than I would have).  Furthermore, I have a really qualified website designer that I like to use, and he was accessible.  So I delegated this one particular.

I do consider it is handy to be proficient in technology even when you delegate, even though, simply because it aids to comprehend what the technical folks are chatting about.  For instance, we struggled with the membership aspect of the site and how to access certain elements.  I did not really feel at the mercy of my technical wizards, simply because they would make clear the dilemma to me in a way that I recognized.  I did not comprehend it enough to go in and resolve it, but I bought the issue.  That gives me a feeling of calm and trust in their work that I would not have if I did not comprehend it.

Like the developing of the site, I typically delegate the servicing as well.  It just makes feeling to do so.  I do go in and develop new consumer accounts to give logins to testers, troubleshoot tiny complications when a thing arises at an odd hour or on an crisis basis, but typically I depart that to my gurus.


If a different attorney was intrigued in starting a site like the Playbook for their respective apply area, what information would you have?

I would convey to them to consider through what they want to develop and why.  Begin with the dilemma they are attempting to solve.  Design and build from there.  I would also inspire them to complete the project and ship it devoid of more than-criticizing their work.

Furthermore, I would convey to them that at the end of the project, they will be so happy they took it on.  Even if they never ever promote a solitary one particular, the knowledge of developing it makes the creator an expert on the matter issue.  I can’t think how numerous high-quality details and nuances I picked up making the Playbook.  I even refer to it sometimes when I have a question – soon after all, I by now did all the analysis.  I have listened to identical feedback from creators of other digital platforms and products and solutions.  So anyone seeking to develop a product or service will also learn so a great deal about their area of apply.  It is very well value the time and effort.


What excites you most about the potential of legal technology?

In a moment of stressing about what to do with my lifestyle, about age 15, my dad informed me that the occupation I would have one particular day had still to be invented.  The way the globe has improved in the yrs because then is staggering.  He was more correct than I consider even he imagined when he reported it.  So what excites me most about the potential of legal tech is that I consider we haven’t even started to fathom the extent of the alter attainable.

In a more concrete way, I get actually enthusiastic when I consider we may possibly make headway in altering the legal ethics rules to let for a smoother road for tech.  I am not so naïve as to consider legal tech will solve all law-related complications, but changes in the ethics rules would make experimentation with tech much easier and increase the odds of building more remedies.  The prospect of sizeable systemic alter is actually exciting.

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