Exploding Legal Surveys and Conferences
I hope you find my title, exploding legal surveys and conferences, suitably ambiguous. A dual meaning is my intent.
The first meaning of my title refers to the explosion in the volume of surveys, white papers, and conferences.
I started in legal tech and law practice management in 1989. Then, it was hard to find legal surveys of and conferences about legal technology or law practice management. Because there was no good forum to discuss the impact of legal tech on law practice, I co-founded the Law Practice Technology Roundtable, which met regularly for over a decade.
Today, of course, the landscape looks different. Surveys and conferences abound. Legal surveys and white papers cover a huge range of topics. Until recently, I had time to read almost all surveys, studies, or white papers I came across. Now, I download many but have time to read only a few. Likewise, I receive more conference invitations than I can possibly attend.
I’ve been aware of this overabundance for a while. A July 17 article, 9 Legal Technology Conferences We’re Watching in Fall 2018 (LegalTech News), was a catalyst for writing this post.
The second meaning of my title is more loaded (so to speak). I keep wondering what the volume tells us. Descriptions of many surveys and conferences suggest that large law firms and corporate law departments have already transformed, if not been disrupted.
Hogwash – explode that idea. To be sure, great options exist today to change dramatically how lawyers practice and how legal organizations operate. Yet the evidence suggests some incremental change, nothing systemic, and certainly not disruption.
Don’t get me wrong. We have seen much change, for example, the rise of pricing, legal project management, legal operations, and knowledge management professionals. And legal start-ups have blossomed. But these reflect gradual change. And the big question remains adoption: just how differently do lawyers practice law today than they did decades ago? As others have noted, few practicing lawyers read surveys or attend conferences (beyond their substantive practice area).
Perhaps you can persuade me the glass is half full. My concern, however, remains the gulf between talk and action. Artificial intelligence (AI) and innovation, in particular, matter little unless more lawyers change how they practice and manage client relations.
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