What will clients of the future want from their lawyers? The College of Law Practice Management Futures Conference addresses this with three 8-minute TED-style talks. This is a live blog post (please forgive typos or errors).
Jeff Carr, former GC of FMC Technologies: NEXT LAW VISION (Counsellors, Not Lawyers)
In his retirement, Jeff is racing cars. Says this is actually similar to practicing law: high performance, decisive, Type A, plan. But in racing, if you fail to leverage your team and your technology, it can lead to failure, which can mean dying.
In-house view of innovation… surveys suggest GCs think more use of tech is important. But reality of technology is Massive Passive Resistance (MPR). “MPR afflicts lawyers far more than other people.” Lawyers fear change. And when you bill by the hour, you are not interested in efficiency. Technology challenges how lawyers work, which can often challenge their sense of self-worth. Lawyers look for all the reasons tech will fail rather than how it can help. Cites email, cell phones, and cloud.
Believes in-house lawyers will drive change because they are the customers and do not bill by the hour. Plus they are a cost center, which creates pressure to save. Metrics drive where the GC looks and data drives results. While every case looks different at a micro level, statistically, they all look similar.
Process defines the path, what lawyers do. Project management is about who does what and when. P3: plan, perform, prevent. “Most lawyers are horrible planners” yet that is the most important step. Performance is relatively easy – just follow the plan. Prevention adds the most value but is sorely lacking.
Old Law is not in the business of solving legal problems, it is in biz of billing hours. New Law is in biz of selling cheaper hours. New Law focuses on preventing high cost legal problems.
Complains that lawyers make problems too complex. Sees much room to simplify, to embrace process to solve problems. Process does not reduce creativity, it actually frees lawyers to focus on creative solutions.
Take Aways: focus on what clients need, have the courage to change, embrace prevention (not crisis resolution).
Aber Geiger, CEO of ShakeLaw (“The TinyLaw tail wagging the BigLaw dog”)
Abe focuses on “Tiny Law:” small transactions that don’t fit with current legal infrastructure because cost of doing so is too high. Legal tech today has followed the money, which has been tools for Big Law.
ShakeLaw goes after a different market: consumers. For consumer legal market, strategy is faster, cheaper, easier, prettier. Cites wide use of DropBox, in spite of corporate prohibition of doing so.
What makes going after the market possible is the lower cost today to build and support solutions for consumers. Widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets gives consumers better access to tech (apps). This means it’s possible to leapfrog old technologies (cites MPESA and MATTERNET in Africa, for mobile payments and drone-delivered drugs).
ShakeLaw sees opportunities to provide faster access, smarter use of data, easier with good user interfaces, and safer with tech-enabled tracing (eg, signatures). The consumer software paradigm is now encroaching the enterprise
Ron Staudt, Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law
80% of the civil legal needs of the poor remain unmet. 75% of civil legal needs of the middle class are unmet.
Legal Services Corporations technology initiatives are helping to address these problems. Cites examples, including simplified divorce.
A2J (access to justice) software supports document production and giving advice, including emerging mobile and cloud versions.
LSC has developed a strategy to address unmet needs, including state-wide portals and mobile access.
Foresees a ‘grand convergence”, a single portal to access legal resources.
Sees opportunity in linking legal aid efforts to private practice via lead generation, which would send dollars back to access.