In the 15+ years I’ve been in the legal industry, I’ve never witnessed a more concentrated collection of innovators, entrepreneurs and industry experts together in one place. Surrounding the annual LegalTech conference held last week at the ever-so-depressing Hilton NYC were a number of events and gatherings focused on an important and sometimes controversial topic – the future of law. BigLaw, MidLaw, TinyLaw, academics, students, vendors, entrepreneurs, investors, evangelists and prophets of all shapes and sizes came together to share their opinions and predictions. It was clear that opinions vary, but most agreed on one thing – a tidal wave of change is coming. I’m just not sure anyone agrees on what “change” means, or when it will come.
Jeff Carr, General Counsel of FMC Technologies described the legal industry as “a burning platform”, and “if you don’t realize it yet, you will burn”. Scott Greenfield, a criminal defense lawyer and blogger, wrote about ReinventLaw speakers: “Their disconnect from reality, their myopic and simplistic grasp of law, reduces them to irrelevance”.
So which is it, burning platform or bullshit? Are lawyers and law firms doomed, will buyers drive prices to zero, will mass consumers get easier access to justice? Or is the “new normal” a result of self-prophecy and echoes? I assure you much will be written and said about this in days to come. But its abundantly clear that change is coming. If the platform truly is burning, are we fanning the flames, stomping them out, or is it time for a new platform?
Regardless of where you stand, professors Dan Katz and Renee Knake should be congratulated for hosting an outstanding #ReinventLaw event (though please have Wi-Fi and coffee next time!). I also want to thank my fellow Law Angels Josh Kubicki and David Perla for making our first #LexRedux legal startup event an enormous success. I’ll write more about both events, but for now my brain needs to rest following an intense week of “innovative disagreement”.