In an annual tradition, the North Pole Department of Christmas Affairs has released the 2020 Naughty or Nice list for all the kiddos curious about whether they can expect an animatronic baby Yoda and PS5 or lump of coal this year. In a turn of events likely to shock you dear reader, I am on the nice list this year! Perhaps the Department of Christmas affairs was compromised in the SolarWinds government hack as well?
In the spirit of the season (and because, let’s be honest, 2020 could use more smiles and laughter) this blog looks at who I think made the naughty or nice list this year!
The Nice List
In a year that has been filled with many ups and downs, these people, companies, and things brought a smile and glimmer of joy to people in legaltech and beyond!
Athleisure as business casual
From yoga pants to basketball shorts, t-shirts to hoodies, 2020 has been the year of comfortable workwear and nothing has done more to make the home office comfy than athleisure staples! Here’s hoping that business casual continues to include clothing that is 30% stretchy!
The cloud and work from anywhere
The shift to virtual was shockingly fast and quite jarring for many, but cloud computing and the ability to conduct the business of law from anywhere in the world at any time (in any outfit) helped many organizations weather the transition! In fact, at DISCO, we found that our cloud-native application worked so well with a remote workforce that our speed and efficiency both increased!
Drizly, Grubhub, Seamless, and others
The lockdowns fundamentally changed how people live, work, play, and eat! Companies like Drizly ensured that after a long day of Zooming you could have your cocktail of choice and food delivery services like Grubhub ensured that people (like me) who are far from Gordon Ramsey-level chefs would not go hungry!
Legal AI… beyond the hype
2020 was also the year that legal AI finally moved beyond the hype. DISCO’s cross-matter AI has me excited about the first true AI in legal, and for the great innovations to come! Here’s to getting out of the “trough of disillusionment!”
Mail carriers and delivery drivers
From bulk orders of TP to ring lights and yoga pants, my mail carrier and delivery driver have been there in my times of need in 2020. Despite the chaos of this year, legions of delivery drivers have bridged the gap caused by quarantine and ensured we looked good on Zoom (from the waist up!). Come, rain, sleet, snow, or a pandemic these fearless and selfless men and women came through in our months of need!
One awesome thing that came out of 2020 certainly was the rise of the furry co-worker! I have seen more cats, dogs, and bunnies over Zoom and Teams this year than I can count, and each time the joy and laughter their antics bring comes as a welcome relief from the Zoom fatigue!
Video streaming services
Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and more have filled the void left by lockdown in a big way. From bingeing The Mandalorian (Baby Yoda!) on Disney+ to falling down epic music or podcast rabbit holes on YouTube, these platforms have entertained millions of quarantine-weary people across the globe!
Virtual conferences that don't suck!
Despite the ever-present Zoom fatigue, there have been a few standout glimmers of hope in this brave new world of virtual conferences — most notably, the amazing digital universe created by the lovely ladies of the EDRM, Mary Mack and Kaylee Walstad. The event brought back some of the spontaneity and fun we all remember from conferences in the beforetimes! If you don’t believe me just check out this article from Above the Law!
The Naughty List
In a year that as whole belongs on the naughty list, there were a few standouts that deserve more coal than most! These trends, things and naughty people stand out as uniquely coal-worthy!
Zoom meetings that could have been an email
At first, the Zoom meeting was a welcome reprieve to social distancing, but as with everything, good people began to overuse it! From mandatory virtual happy hours to 90-minute brainstorms or standing open office hours, Zoom meetings ate up more and more of the day! In the same vein as meetings that could have been an email, there was a massive deluge of eight-hours filled with back to back to back Zooms, many of which were discussing something that a well-crafted email could have more easily resolved! Sometimes, just picking up the phone or jotting a quick email is most certainly the better way to go!
The need to work from anywhere and everywhere certainly highlighted the coal-worthiness of on-prem tech. With offices a no-go zone, managing the system administration, project management and patching necessary to keep the ediscovery wheels in motion became a huge headache for many people who have not yet made the leap to the cloud. While I will not go as far as some and claim that on-prem is dead, the acceleration of the shift to cloud-based legal technology is substantial!
So over ALL of it! Coal and more coal all around this year!
Not-so-awesome webinars and conferences
While there have been some very cool and interactive webinars and conferences, many have been painfully boring death-by-Brady-Bunch-squares-type affairs! The shift to virtual has not been easy for anyone, but it is especially apparent with events and formats that are generally so reliant on organic human interactions! Here’s hoping we continue to have more events on the nice list in 2021!
Dress pants (unless you are doing a depo)
Uncomfortable, constricting, at times scratchy suits and dress pants are a staple of most lawyers' wardrobe. The shift to virtual courtroom and depositions has liberated many attorneys from the woolly clutches, but judges advise that bathrobes and fluffy duvets are not appropriate attire for a Zoom hearing!
Hundreds of top law firms, leading service providers, and most recently dozens of government agencies and Fortune 500 companies have all fallen victim to bad actors exploiting vulnerabilities and the shift to remote workforces! For capping off 2020 with a digital pandemic, it is most certainly coal time!
The Jury is Still Out
The people, places, or things on this list brought a mixture of joy and dread throughout 2020, and may have time yet to get back into Santa’s good graces!
Zoom - Naughty & Nice
The video conferencing industry has never been a hotter commodity, with players like Zoom and Teams helping hundreds of millions of workers, students, and families stay connected despite the constraints of quarantine. So why isn’t Zoom listed on the nice list? Too much of a good thing. Zoom meetings have come to dominate people’s days during business hours and in their personal lives. Humans simply are not designed to sit for hours on end staring at a video feed of disembodied Hollywood squares. Zoom fatigue has spread like wildfire and lack of adequate security protocols led to a rash of NC-17 content being Zoom-Bombed into school and business meetings. On the whole, the verdict is still out for Zoom and the like.
Baby Yoda — naughty or nice, choose he must!
While the quinquagenarian tyke is undeniably cute, his use of the force to gobble up eggs and tasty macarons leaves many Mandalorian viewers wondering if he will be lured to the dark side! I tend to think Baby Yoda will find his way to the nice list, but that remains to be seen!