Thursday, September 11, 2014
Good article on the challenges of starting a legal tech ecosystem. Great timing for me, I am starting a new meetup -- LegalHackersPA -- in the coming weeks.
Solomon suggests that law students and recent grads may not be well positioned to see the pain points in the practice yet. So, who should be on the invite list?
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
One of the challenges that legal technology applications face is that they often succeed in automating some portions of a legal process, but still require the involvement of human agency in other portions. Maybe, as they say in the software writing trade, this isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. I thank John Mayer at CALI for calling my attention to an article by information science Profs. Hamid Ekbia and Bonnie Nardi entitled “Heteromation and its (dis)contents: The invisible division of labor between humans and machines” (First Monday, Volume 19, Number 6 - 2 June 2014, available at http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5331). As we figure out what portions of the thing called “law” can and can’t be automated, the idea of “heteromation” can provide a useful frame for understanding the mixture of human and machine that will inevitably result. The potentially bad news for lawyers is that the human content in such a mix can sometimes be relatively commoditized and not very highly compensated. See, for instance, the experience of document-review temps in many ediscovery projects.
Legal technology is a new area for many in the legal academy. The field, however, is burgeoning in the world of practice, and is becoming a “must know” area for many of us in our research and teaching. How does someone hoping to learn more about legal tech jump in and educate herself? Let me suggest a few resources available via the web as ways to get launched in the field. The list is a starting point, by no means comprehensive, and I hope that my Legal Tech Blog colleagues and others will make further suggestions in comments and future posts. The links are provided in no particular order of priority. The list does not include the many companies active in the field – they are often the real leaders, and getting to know their work is an important element in learning about the field. A good start on their products and services can be made by following up on the links to the marketplaces set out below. The recent post by Michele Pistone provides resoureces for technology and legal education. Happy browsing.
Stephanie Kimbro, Virtual Law Practice, ABA, 2011, available through http://virtuallawpractice.org/
Oliver Goodenough & Marc Lauritsen, eds., Educating the Digital Lawyer, LexisNexis, 2012, available through http://legalinformatics.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/goodenough-and-lauritsen-eds-educating-the-digital-lawyer/
ABA, 2014 Legal Technology Survey Report, Combined Volumes, ABA, 2014 http://shop.americanbar.org/eBus/Store/ProductDetails.aspx?productId=133038720&sc_cid=2680141-14A&sc_channel=email&sc_rec=
ABA Techreport 2013, available at http://www.americanbar.org/publications/techreport/2013.html
Law Review Articles and Volumes:
Ronald W. Staudt and Marc Lauritsen, eds. Justice, Lawyering and Legal Education in the Digital Age, Chicago-Kent Law Review Symposium, 2013, issue available at http://www.kentlaw.iit.edu/institutes-centers/center-for-access-to-justice-and-technology/2013-law-review-symposium
Harry Surden, “Computable Contracts”, UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 46, P. 629, 2012, available at http://lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/46/2/Articles/46-2_Surden.pdf
Ronald W. Staudt, All the Wild Possibilities: Technology that Attacks Barriers to Access to Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 101, Summer 2009; Chicago-Kent Intellectual Property, Science & Technology Research Paper No. 10-027. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1543329
Industry Publications, Markets and Websites:
Law Technology News, http://www.lawtechnologynews.com/
ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, http://www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources.html
ABA Techshow, http://www.techshow.com/
Law Technology Today, http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/
Organizations, Centers and Other Organizational Resources:
International Legal Technology Association, http://www.iltanet.org/
The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, http://www.cali.org/
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/
Reinvent Law Laboratory, Michigan State University, http://reinventlaw.com/main.html
CodeX, Stanford University, https://www.law.stanford.edu/organizations/programs-and-centers/codex-the-stanford-center-for-legal-informatics
Center for Law Practice Technology, Florida Coastal University School of Law, http://www.fcsl.edu/clpt
Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation, Suffolk University Law School, http://lawpracticetechnology.blogs.law.suffolk.edu/
Center for Legal Innovation, Vermont Law School, http://www.vermontlaw.edu/center-for-legal-innovation
Law Dojo, http://www.lawschooldojo.com/
International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law, http://www.iaail.org/
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The focus of this blog is technological change and how that change will impact the practice of law and legal education. While the role that technology can play in the practice of law is beginning to become more evident – with predictive coding, eDiscovery, and companies like LexMachina that use legal analytics to, among other things, predict the outcome of patent litigation -- many in the legal academy still cannot conceive of how technology can change legal education – a method of education grounded in Socratic dialogue, which has endured for more than 100 years. If you are in that camp or know others who are, let me suggest that we do not dismiss the potential for change in legal education without knowing what arguments are being made by those persons who believe the status quo will not endure. Below is a list of suggested readings that might change your thinking about the role of technology in the future of legal education. The suggestions come from my article, which has other suggestions as well.
Here are some ideas about where to start. First, read David Thomson, Law School 2.0: Legal Education for the Digital Age (2009). Also, read the work of Bill Henderson, including A Blueprint for Change, 40 Pepperdine L. Rev. 461 (2013) and Andrew P. Morriss & William D. Henderson, Measuring Outcomes: Post-Graduation Measures of Success in the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings, 83 Indiana L. J. 791 (2008). Read David Barnhizer’s article, Redesigning the American Law School, 2010 Mich. St. L. Rev. 249 (2010).
Read, too, assessments about how technology has impacted and will continue to impact higher education generally, works such as Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education, and The Department of Education’s Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies.
Learn about the millennial generation who are “born digital” and how their more networked and connected lives affect the way they approach learning. A great book on this topic is by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser of Harvard Law’s Beckman Center on Internet and Society, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (2008). Think about the implications of the fact that between 2000 and 2002, the largest group of first time internet users were between two and five years old, placing the oldest members of this group in college now – and in law school soon. Begin to understand how the emerging “participatory culture” is changing what one needs to learn to be fully prepared to function in the twenty-first century. You can do this by reading Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (MacArthur Foundation).
Begin to explore the potential for law schools to employ teaching methods that use technology to a greatly enhanced degree. For example, read about flipping the classroom, a teaching methodology that blends online lectures (which students view at their own pace as homework) with in-class instruction, as it is used in K-12 education, Jonathan Bergmann & Aaron Sams, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (ISTE/ASCD, 2012), or watch these videos on flipped learning in legal education. By migrating lectures to the web, flipped learning can free face-to-face classtime for active learning, including Socratic dialogues, drafting exercises, simulations and role plays.
Investigate also innovations in adaptive learning, a technique using computer software first to assess what a student knows and then to adapt the content taught to the knowledge level of the student, thus providing a more personalized learning experience for each individual. Computer-based adaptive learning is already being used by the Kaplan test preparation company for college students planning to take the LSAT and GMAT; by Khan Academy for younger students; and by many companies, such as Knewton, for a wide range of users.
Consider as well the impact that gaming can have on education. Follow the work of my fellow bloggers, Jeannette Eicks and Stephanie Kimbro, both of whom are working on projects that involve gaming and law. Read James Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2003); James Gee, Good Video Games and Good Learning, at http://dmlcentral.net/sites/dmlcentral/files/resource_files/GoodVideoGamesLearning.pdf. Educational games are available for a variety of topics, including civics, see http://www.icivics.org/ (a game-based website started for former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor); climate change, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/hottopics/climatechange/climate_challenge/; national conflicts, see http://www.peacemakergame.com/game.php; and even algebra, see http://www.dragonboxapp.com.
Closer to home, monitor the impact that recent decisions by law schools to develop online programs for non-JD degrees has on programs at other schools, such as the decision by graduate tax law programs at, among others, Alabama, Georgetown, NYU, Villanova, and Boston University to offer their programs online. Read Distance Learning in Legal Education: A Summary of Delivery Models, Regulatory issues and Recommended Practices. Attend a meeting of the Distance Learning in Legal Education Working Group, organized by Vermont Law School professors Rebecca Purdom and my fellow blogger, Oliver Goodenough. The group meets three times a year, once in the fall (which is in a few weeks at William Mitchell School of Law), once during the AALS Annual Meeting, and a third time in the spring.
In addition, monitor the effectiveness and reaction of law graduates who take online bar preparation courses such as Themis. Explore some of the new apps being developed for iPads and Androids to teach legal concepts. Law Stack is an Apple app for legal research loaded with various federal statutes. Law School Dojo, by Stanford Law’s Margaret Hagan, is an app with quizzes on legal concepts for a range of subject matters, including contracts, torts, civil procedure and international law.
The internet, the driver of all the changes and developments noted above, is a technology and a tool that, for the reach and extent of its often disruptive and its often liberating effects, can be compared only with the printing press. When writing of Gutenberg’s invention, Elizabeth Eisenstein, a careful and meticulous historian of immense reputation, wrote (favorably quoting Renaissance scholar Myron Gilmore) in her two-volume magnum opus, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, that “’[i]t opened new horizons in education and in the communication of ideas. Its effects were sooner or later felt in every department of human activity.’” As we detail in our article, "[s]o too it is, or sooner or later shall be, with the internet."
Thursday, August 21, 2014
In his August 1st article "This Is Law School? Socrates Takes a Back Seat to Business and Tech" John Schwartz of the New York Times highlights three of the several law schools seeking to expand legal education and what it means to be a lawyer. Both directly and indirectly, the article challenges our conception of where the boundaries of the legal industry should lie and what law students should do post-graduation. His article showcases programs at Michigan State, Northwestern and University of Colorado Bolder law schools devoted to teaching a more entrepreneurial approach to law practice and the use of legal skills.
In discussing these forward-thinking programs, the article also highlighted two tensions playing out within legal practice and legal education. One tension touched upon in the article is found between a more narrow traditional interpretation of legal employment and a more expansive one. How we choose to define and value legal employment will greatly influence our students’ placements and the reputation of law schools who seek new, more entrepreneurial opportunities for their graduates.
Currently when a law student graduates, finds a high paying job in the tech sector, and uses her education to build the knowledge engines of a legal technology tool tradition and ABA rules dictate that we not count that graduate’s job in her law school’s graduate employment numbers in the primary J.D. required employment statistic. By that same tradition law schools graduate lawyers, judges or professors, not business leaders, knowledge engineers or entrepreneurs. Those traditions culminate in law school career services departments that have networks focused on finding graduates jobs as lawyers and clerks or other positions that require a J.D. degree and bar passage. Given that non-traditional positions do not contribute to the primary J.D. required employment statistic, law students receive little encouragement from law schools to think outside the lines of a traditional legal career.
In this job market, we should teach law students to seek opportunities to leverage their Juris Doctorate degree and other personal skills in non-traditional legal professions. Graduates could find high level employment in growing industries where having a J.D. makes our graduates leaders in their field. Arguably these positions should require a J.D. because these functions are the practice of new law. Law school graduates may become knowledge engineers, legal data scientists, legal data visualizers, information governance executives or chief compliance officers. These positions create technology solutions that perform with legal expertise on behalf of a lawyer or use deep legal knowledge on a daily basis. While this path will not be right for all law school graduates, the 20% of graduates it may fit would positively impact law school graduate employment statistics. When we change how we count the employment status of our students so that these new opportunities for legal employment are included in the tally, we will see a healthy expansion of opportunities presented by law school career services offices.
The other tension in the NY Times article exists between those who think technology will bring modest iterative improvements to the legal industry and those who think technology will disrupt the traditional legal industry. "Catherine L. Carpenter, vice dean of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, tracks curriculum across the country. She said schools are trying to teach their students to run their own firms, to look for entrepreneurial opportunities by finding ‘gaps in the law or gaps in the delivery of services,’ and to gain specialized knowledge that can help them counsel entrepreneurs." Teaching students the business aspects necessary to run their own firms leads students down the more traditional legal paths of counseling entrepreneurs and improving the efficiency of legal practice – at the most iterative changes. However, teaching our students to find “gaps in the law or gaps in the delivery of services” invites foundational questions about the legal system and its function. When combine with technology-driven solutions, the answers students discover to those fundamental questions have the greatest possibility of disrupting the legal industry. Legal technology will open new and underserved markets for graduates that will use both their legal and entrepreneurial skills.
In the New York Times article, Professor Paul F. Campos was “amused by the focus on tech. ‘The irony here is that these new technologies are destroying traditional legal jobs!’” The alternative perspective? Technology will combine with traditional law to shift the legal industry. We will begin to see that these non-traditional legal jobs are the practice of law. Whether this “new law” practice is better and jobs are more or less plentiful remains to be seen.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
I also attended the Start Up Weekend in San Francisco. It was indeed a success, with lots of energy and good projects going forward. Let me give a particular shout out to the organizing group - students at Hastings Law School - who showed terrific initiative and energy in putting it all together. As listed on the event website, they are:
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Earlier today, the Canadian Bar Association released a report, Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, which discusses the broad-reaching changes taking place in the legal profession and makes recommendations about how lawyers in Canada should respond.
Among the report’s most significant recommendations are that “lawyers should be allowed to practice in business structures that permit fee-sharing, multidisciplinary practice, and ownership, management, and investment by persons other than lawyers or other regulated legal professionals.” The report also notes that “[t]he key to establishing a viable, competitive, relevant and representative legal profession . . . in the future is innovation.” With this last point, I heartily concur. In fact, one of the main arguments of my recent article, No Path But One: Law School Survival in an Age of Disruptive Technology, is that the need for innovation extends to law schools as well, because the same trends that are impacting the practice of law are also impacting law schools. For both practitioners and law schools, a failure to innovate will mean a bleak future. As my co-author and I say in the article, “What law schools face, in the end, is a real life testing of the aphorism that ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ The only way forward is to innovate.” Whether, and how, law schools can achieve this, I expect will be an ongoing theme of my contributions to this blog.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
One Legal Labs launched yesterday. It's a tech incubator focused on the legal field. There is a lot that can be done to bring technology into our field -- to make information about the law more accessible, to make legal services more affordable, to make legal systems more efficient. I look forward to seeing the creative ideas that are spawned there.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Mark your calendars for the first Legal + Tech Startup Weekend, August 15-17 at the AirBNB Headquarters in San Francisco, http://legalsf.startupweekend.org/#
The event looks fabulous, with lots of support from the legal startup community. The organizers have done a wonderful job gathering leaders in the law + tech community to participate as coaches and judges, including our own Stephanie Kimbro.
The objectives of the weekend are clear. To:
(1) Leverage the knowledge of legal professionals and students to explore new directions for legal tech products, services, and resources.
(2) Foster positive relationships among Bay Area law schools and the local tech and legal communities.
(3) Provide the opportunity for people across industries to brainstorm, collaborate, design, and develop innovative products and services to address challenges facing the legal system.
To me, the event is significant because it marks a transition in our understanding of the role that technology can play in the legal field. It brings many of the key players in this space together with students and developers to begin to collaborate on technologies that can change how law is practiced, learned and understood. I can’t wait to see what emerges from the weekend.
There is still time to register, http://legalsf.startupweekend.org/#
Friday, August 8, 2014
Law schools must address the intersection of information technology and law practice, and provide law students with a basic understanding of how to assess the risks and benefits of technological advances. Law students need to be prepared to take on different roles once they pass the bar that expand beyond the once-expected, traditional first year associate in a law firm position. These new roles might include legal knowledge engineer, legal technologist, legal hybrid, legal process analyst, legal project manager, ODR practitioner, legal management consultant, and high risk manager.
I co-authored an article with Ron Dolin entitled Course Correction: Teaching Tomorrow’s Lawyers Legal Tech Skills for the summer edition of the ILTA Peer to Peer Magazine. Ron developed the syllabus for and taught the first course on legal informatics at Stanford Law School. Several of his students from that course have gone on to find innovative paths in the legal industry, including Margaret Hagan, his co-founder in the Program for Legal Tech and Design. In our article we summarize the key issues that law schools need to address when designing a curriculum that prepares new lawyers to use technology in a changed legal marketplace.
The following is a list of basic technology skills that we compiled based on our teaching and consulting experience (both of us advise and work with law firms and legal tech startups) that would benefit most law school curricula:
1. How to design the information architecture of a law practice, including for example, understanding data structures, law firm metrics, and how ethics rules apply to the use of technology;
2. Basics of cloud-based practice management systems, including the use of multiple applications and technologies, and their associated interoperability;
3. Selection of technology vendors, products and services, including review of service level agreements and understanding how the selection may affect compliance with the rules of professional conduct or ethics opinions;
4. Secure client portal technology and the basics of online delivery of legal services and unbundling practices;
5. Collaboration technologies that allow for legal teams to communicate remotely, such as virtual deal rooms, client intranets, and other tools developed for the growing field of ODR;
6. Use of technology for client development, including online marketing tools, collaborating with branded networks, online lead generation, creating and maintaining firm websites and blogs, use of social media, and the ethical issues and best practices around these;
7. Payment systems for online billing and collection of fees;
8. Technology that speeds up the processing of standardized legal work, such as document automation and assembly tools and expert systems; and finally
9. Evaluative methodologies to compare features, efficiency, and quality of the tools.
We were one short of a "top ten" list. Feel free to suggest a tenth skills that you might expect to see in a law school curricula and how that skill might be integrated into existing courses or offered as a separate course, elective, or supplemental certificate program.
Monday, August 4, 2014
This past week saw the publication of four articles on legal innovation – specifically as it relates to law and technology both in legal practice and in legal education.
The New York Times published an article by John Schwartz that showcased programs in three law schools who are changing their approach to legal education to include technology and business skills. The article mentions several diverse viewpoints on the impact of technology on the legal industry.
Ron Friedman at Prism Legal penned the blog entry “Big Law Changing or Being Disrupted?” In his blog Friedman argues against viewing disruption as the way to think about legal market trends. Instead Friedman cites to Paul Lippe’s July 31st ABA Legal Rebels article, “Disruption, Eruption or Interruption: 3 Views of Change in Law.” While Friedman is uncertain about Lippe’s reference to the changes we have seen in big law as eruption rather than disruption, Friedman offers a list of reasons he thinks big law has a nice future.
Susan Beck’s article in The American Lawyer, “The Future of Law,” is a balanced discussion of legal innovation. Her article invokes the possibilities that IBM’s Watson may bring balanced against the legal technology realities of relatively long-time players such as Neota Logic, KM Standards, Legal Zoom and Fastcase who have had to manage state bar rules and an industry that is, to quote Sarah Reed from the article, “uniquely impervious to change."
These four articles generally agree that technology is driving innovation in the legal industry. Opinions vary as to whether the rate and extent of the changes will be disruptive or slow and iterative – with most foreseeing an evolution for the legal industry rather than a revolution. Overall the articles suggest that the future of the legal industry appears stronger than during the period of recession-driven market adjustments of the last several years.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
From July 17 to July 19 the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law organized a conference on Law Schools, Technology, and Access to Justice. http://law.umkc.edu/lawtecha2j/ The event, hosted at the facilities of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, was a creative mash-up of participants across a number backgrounds and interests. Most of those attending were law professors or deans, but there was also a good admixture of folks from the non-profit and for-profit worlds as well. On expertise, one component consisted of veterans of the access to justice struggles; another consisted of legal technology experts. The recipe worked well, for the most part. There was broad consensus around the proposition that the American legal system was failing to provide the benefits of law, wholly or in part, to the vast majority of Americans. There was less agreement on the causes of the failure and on the steps that could be taken to ameliorate it.
Several interesting points emerged from the discussions. First, there was a question of whether the crisis might be better couched under the phrase “access to law” rather than “access to justice”. The widely used A2J terminology has the benefit of the moral imperative inherent in “justice.” That moral thrust has helped make “access to justice” a good rallying cry, particularly for getting services to the most disadvantaged members of our society. This association with the most urgent aspects of the problem can, paradoxically, mask the broader needs of the middle class, of small and start up business, and of other underserved elements in our communities.
In looking at where the failure comes from and how to use technology to help solve it, there was a continuum of views, ranging from what might be called the “traditionalists” on one end of the scale to the “radicals” on the other. The traditionalists largely accept the current system of courts, lawyers, and legal process as a given. They look to technology to provide tools for lawyers to be able to offer their services less expensively and for clients and lawyers to be able to find each other more effectively. Those arguing for this approach pointed to the glaring gap separating the excess capacity in the supply side of lawyers from the excess need on the demand side of people needing legal help. Technology would help to bridge this gap.
Some of the more radical, particularly those with technology expertise, argued that the gap isn’t despite the current system; rather, it is a feature of that system. The cost of our current procedures and representation models can only be driven down so far, they argued; unless our society is willing to make such “bespoke” representation a social good, like fire protection, with society as a whole picking up the tab, the gap will remain large even with a significant admixture of technology. The more radical solution is to use technology to help restructure how we deliver the dispute resolution and other problem solving services provided by what we now call “law” so that the savings and access are built into the resulting system as a whole. The “radicals” pointed to developments like the dispute resolution company Modria (http://www.modria.com/) and the Nevada Secretary of State’s Silverflume portal (https://nvsilverflume.gov/home) as examples of how this might function.
The conference was a productive mix of prepared talks, general discussion and group work on declarations of goals and targets for study and action. A particularly fresh viewpoint was added by Sarah Reed, General Counsel of Charles River Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Boston and Menlo Park (http://www.crv.com/). Her talk, “Technology and Access to Justice: A Venture Capital Perspective on Challenges and Opportunities,” mocked the tendency of law professors to claim to be revolutionary while waiving the banner “incremental change.” Her views can be explored in her March 2014 posting on TechCrunch: “Lawyer, Disrupt Thyself.” http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/21/lawyer-disrupt-thyself/
The ultimate conclusions of the session? There was reasonable consensus that both the traditionalist and the radical views had validity, depending on your timeframe and willingness to try something really new. There was also a shared hope that technology, in one form or another, could play a significant role in helping to ameliorate America’s shocking failures in providing most of its residents with access to both justice and law. Follow up initiatives are being suggested through a website titled Law and Technology for Access to Justice and hosted through legalhackathon.org. http://a2j.legalhackathon.org/
Thursday, July 24, 2014
The influences of technology are being felt across all areas of the legal profession, from legal education to government to the practice of law. Within courts, federal agencies and other executive bodies, the government is making technology an essential part of creating efficiency and promoting access to the law while using technology to ease monitoring, reporting, communicating and processing requirements. The recession has given rise to clients' demands for more economical legal services. Law firms are learning the competitive advantage of adding technically based services to their practices to meet those demands.
As technology has become part of addressing clients’ demands, the technology of law has become a hot topic. Legal practitioners, scholars and entrepreneurs are coming together to discuss the latest impacts of technology on the law, the legal profession and legal education. They debate whether technology will resolve the legal profession’s current slump or further reduce the demand for lawyers through legal automation. As a measure of the industry’s interest in legal technology, past conferences held in Silicon Valley, New York, London and Dubai to ignite conversations about the technology of law have filled to standing room only. Legal Tech shows held on the east and west coasts admit thousands of people working in the legal field. Attendees at these shows seek the latest gadget, software or outsource firm that will make their practice more competitive and more profitable. The economic impact of this legal technology revolution is estimated in the billions. Legal educators meet to discuss ways to use technology to enhance the quality of legal education and the efficient delivery of that education as well as how to add technology into their law schools’ curricula. Technology has had and is having an impact on law, legal practice and legal education – and the trajectory of the impact curve rises steeply into the foreseeable future.
When legal colleagues confer about technology and the law, someone inevitably comments that technology cannot be allowed to overwhelm law or to direct the law. These colleagues are the same cautious types who, Richard Susskind notes in his book The End of Lawyers, spend little time addressing technology beyond simply discouraging lawyers from entering the information age. Technology moves forward with little regard to the processes (legal, business, etc.) already in place—moving forward at such a rapid rate that it creates new processes along the way while the old ways quickly become obsolete. The two professions—technology and law—are fundamentally opposite in their rate of evolution. The legal profession is built upon common law and precedent, intended to create a stable predictable outcome that evolves slowly and weathers societal volatility. Technology changes rapidly. We are in the midst of what may be a disruptive rather than incremental change in the law and legal industry. If legal professionals have the foresight to engage in the coming changes, the personal impacts of this disruption to the legal industry will be generative and filled with opportunities.
What will law practice look like in the next decade? What should legal professionals know about technology to be competent and profitable in legal practice? How will we educate the next generation of lawyers entering a legal field deeply altered by technology? Who are these legal entrepreneurs changing the face of law – and should we fear them or emulate them? Will innovation happen at a stately pace, trimming the edges of inefficiency and risk aversion in legal practice? Or will innovation happen disruptively as technology entrepreneurs make an end-run around the more deliberate pace of legal practitioners? To borrow from Richard Susskind, a visionary in this field, who are tomorrow’s lawyers and how will they be trained?
We seek answers to these questions and more. This blog will focus on the topics at the nexus of law, legal practice and legal education and technology. Welcome.