Are You an Outlaw? Meet Ryan McClead

Who has redefined what it means to think outside the law (aka OUTLAW) and is helping each of us in the process?

Meet Ryan McClead. Ryan is the Senior Vice President, North America at Neota Logic. Ryan is a 2018 Fellow-elect of the College of Law Practice Management and a 2015 FastCase 50 recipient. He is a regular contributor to the popular 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. Prior to joining Neota, Ryan led the Global Legal Technology Innovation initiative at Norton Rose Fulbright. He has spent the last 14 years in legal technology advocating for and implementing policies, procedures, and tools to improve the flow of knowledge and the pace of innovation within firms.

Enjoy getting to know this Outlaw!

Q: What is your motto?
A: My motto is “Question Everything”. It may seem somewhat paranoid or suspicious, but I find that most people don’t question what they do and think nearly enough. Most people accept things at face value. Ask someone why they do something a particular way and the answer will likely be “Because that’s the way we do it.” or “That’s the way I was taught.” Ask someone why they believe what they believe and you’ll likely get the same response. Questioning everything leads to experiencing as much as possible and forces me to change even when change is difficult or uncomfortable.

Q: Share something that you’ve done in the past that set you apart from your peers.
A: I had an entirely different ‘career’ as a musical theater composer before I ended up in Legal. I put career in quotes, because it’s hard to call it a career when I never really made any money. I moved to New York and spent 15 years actively writing music and putting together shows before I ended up in legal technology.

Q: What got you into working in the legal industry?
A: During my music career, I had a series of short-lived and temp jobs in everything from fashion merchandising to investor relations. None of these were ever career alternatives, they were just ways to pay the bills until I made money with music. The last such job I had was on the help desk at a law firm. At a certain point, I realized I wasn’t even getting enjoyment and pleasure out of the music anymore, let alone a paycheck, and I threw myself into the technology thing. Since I was at a law firm, I focused on legal technology. Which turned into knowledge management for a while and eventually technology innovation.

Q: Always paying attention or do you daydream?
A: I daydream all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I can focus and pay attention just fine, but daydreaming is a big part of what I do. If you are trying to be creative or innovative and you don’t take time to daydream, I assure you, you are doing it wrong. Having knowledge and expertise is important, but it’s equally important to make the time to think, to dream, and to imagine what could be.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?
A: On the surface this is a straight-forward question, but the more I thought about it the more fascinating it became, because you’re not asking what makes me happy, but what is my “idea of happiness”. (And yes, like many things, I’m probably overthinking this.) My idea of happiness – the sense, emotion, and memory that I imagine when I think of ‘happiness’ as a concept – is lying in the cool grass on a warm summer day, looking up at the blue sky through the branches of a large tree. I don’t have a particular memory of doing that as a child or at any point in my life, but for some reason that’s the image that springs to mind when I think about being happy. A few weeks ago, I actually had the opportunity to do exactly that and after about 2 minutes I got bored and got up to go find something to do. So, maybe happiness is just having something to do?