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).

Ron Dolin, Legal Technologist, Fellow, Law Instructor, Sanford University

Changes he would like to see include…

For law schools should include new content (legal tech, information, design, and more), interdisciplinary programs, and a real meritocracy.

For law firms, wants to see more turn-key practice management for small firms. For large firms, we should see a 1 to 2$ dedicated innovation budget.

For law departments, quality metrics, dedicated legal tech and innovation support, an new law firm interact model.  Google has 40 engineers to support law department.

For legal tech providers, develop more components, APIs and real innovation. Acquiring other companies is not innovation. For legal tech start-ups, would like more VC funding, more creativity around visualization and other real changes.

For regulators, modernize rules, stop protecting and start expanding markets.

Conclusion: unbundle, unprotect, data-driven, efficiency + quality, focus on all stakeholders, challenge the status quo.


Carla Goldstein, Associate GC and Director of Strategic Initiatives, BMO Financial Group

Focus on meshing right- and left-brain thinking in legal market. Starts with her personal background as a potter. She was designing cookware intended to solve common problems in the kitchen, combining functions or multiple products or fixing functionality limitations. Think of this as user interface / user experience for the physical world.

These were good ideas but could not make enough money so went for MBA and JD.  Right brain (the creativity side) went dead in law practice. So after 5 years of practice, moved to law firm management.  In management at Seyfarth, helping to put together Seyfarth Lean, combined left and right brains.

As consultant at Seyfarth Lean, BMO retained Carla to help with panel convergence / rationalization.  Focused on innovation, diversity, and other factors.  Instead of big RFP, there was a simple scoring system based on five, objective factors.  Using objective rankings not only simplified law firms completing the “RFP”, it stopped internal discussions about why some firms were not longer in the mix.

Conclusion: let your mind wander to be creative. Right brain can succeed in left brain industry.


Michael Mills, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Neota Logic

Law as Code is topic.

Asks what’s wrong with legal services?  Shows a graph with quantity on x axis and dollars on y.  Revenue and cost are straight lines.  Point is that there is no diminishing marginal cost for each additional unit. Not only is there no economy of scale in big law firms, there can be diseconomies of coordination.

We can think of law as code… then it can be dealt with by a computing engine.  Law as code does not help with counseling and negotiation but it helps with the analytic aspects.  Machine learning is improving its ability to predict.  But ML, with dark algorithms, does not appeal to deterministic lawyer thinking.

To appeal to deterministic lawyers, we need expert systems with clearly specified rules operating behind the scenes. Expert systems pervade today: in doctor’s pockets, doing your taxes.

Coding the law would lead to diminishing marginal cost per unit of production. Moreover, doing so would help meet the unmet needs of the middle class and the poor.