RIP Michael Mills, Legal Tech Visionary and Innovator

Personal Injury Attorney

Well before the rest of the legal industry was talking about artificial intelligence, Michael Mills was talking about artificial intelligence. “The legal community needs to navigate the world of Artificial Intelligence,” he advised back in 2016. His map of AI in legal practice was, for a time, ubiquitous on PowerPoints at legal tech conferences.

Legal futurist Richard Susskind called Michael “the leading global figure in law firm technology.” Liam Brown, CEO of Elevate Law said he was a “visionary strategist.” Oz Benamram, chief knowledge and innovation officer at Simpson Thacher, wrote that Michael “had a rare combination of brilliance, humility, humor, and generosity.”

Most of us knew him as the president and cofounder of Neota Logic, but he was much more than that — a “polymath” as Jeff Rovner wrote in a moving obituary, including past president of the College of Law Practice Management, founding director of Pro Bono Net, and cofounder of the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that oversees the care and management of Central Park.

I knew Michael from having interviewed him countless times, hung out with him at conferences, and tapped his knowledge and insights when I needed an expert.

From what I knew of Michael, Oz’s description of him sums it up perfectly. Brilliant, humble, funny and generous.

But as read the tributes to him, I wish I’d taken the time to know him better. I never knew, for example, that he was a sailor, or that, as Jeff Rovner’s piece recounts, he once owned a sailboat so classic that it is now in the Mystic Seaport Museum.

I regret that I too often take people at face value, especially people I meet in professional settings, without taking the time to explore more of who they are behind that professional veneer. Maybe I’ll take Michael’s death as a lesson to learn more about the people I meet and who they really are.

Meanwhile, I encourage you all to read Jeff Rovner’s obituary of Michael and the website set up as a memorial to him, where you can also make a contribution to Pro Bono Net in his honor.

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