2014 Futures ConferenceLast Friday I had the honor of being named a “Fellow” in the
College of Law Practice Management at their annual meeting and  2014 Futures Conference at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.  The conference  examined the continuum legal disruption/dysfunction across law schools, law firms and pro bono/public interest law.
Change Hasn’t Come Easily
Michael Mills of Neota Logic summed up the challenge of dislodging paradigms:

13 Takeaways/ Insights from the Law Futures Summit

  •    Law firms have been in the business of selling hours, not results. Clients are interested in  buying results
    Map your strategy to the clients values
  •      The law IS a code and it CAN be programmed.
  •    The marginal cost of delivery of legal services should be
  •    Innovation in law firms is met with “Massive Passive Resistance”.
  •    Law firms have been in the business of selling hours, not results. Clients are interested in  buying results
  •    It is time for law firms to embrace prevention over crisis management.
  •    Tiny law small consumer driven solutions. No
    lawyers involved. People make decisions differently than companies.
  •   Emerging Law  will prevent the
    need for high cost legal solutions. Move from fire fighting to prevention. Zero
    defects rather than heroic solutions.
    In house lawyers are the primary drivers of change in
    the legal profession.
    Performance metrics bring credibility, force discipline
    and precision.
    Define need, understand process, measure effectiveness,
    reduce risk.
    Legal Services for the poor.  Old Question was how do we pick the right 20% to
    serve. New Question – How do we serve them all?
The Law Futures “Shark Tank” 

 The most exciting part of the Futures Conference was engaging in a “Shark Tank” style team event focused on developing a new products to solve legal problems or improve service.
  It was a wild mash up of creativity: 
Flash-mob juries, crowd sourced legal solutions, flying
law squads, legal help kiosks on street corners or grocery stores, geospacially enabled self help and
legal referral, legal chat rooms, apps, self help diagnostic kits, freemium models, cloud based legal translations, virtual,
legal emergency rooms.
Think legal services with elements of Uber, Angie’s
List, Walmart and WebMD.

Speaker Jeff Carr’s call for “decomplexification” of law became a recurring theme.The conference reminded me of environmental scientist  Amory Lovins  comment about the dangers of over executing solutions or “ cutting butter with a chainsaw.”  Could our civil justice system work better if there was more focus on preventing legal engagements and finding simpler, more immediate solutions for the middle class as well as  the hoards of people waiting in line for public service lawyers? In the words of Ron Friedmann it may be time to “practice less law” by inventing new solutions.