Red LETR day… LETR Symposium, day 1, pm

by Paul Maharg on 10/07/2012

First session in the afternoon was a session on the three scenarios LETR has drawn up.  Very interesting feedback on the three regulatory models from my small group which included great international lawyers & educators such as Alan Treleaven, Paul Woods

Afternoon keynote was Susskind on how we can train 21st century lawyers.  We don’t: we train them for twentieth century situations, according to him.  We mistake the nature of legal services: not the Black & Decker power tool, that’s generally not what they want, it’s the result of using the tool.

More for less, liberalization, technology were the three topics he focused on.  Lawyers and clients want more for less: the efficiency strategy, and the collaboration strategy.  First says cut the costs, move along the path towards commoditisation, multi-sourcing.  Second says share the costs, harness the collaborative power of IT, form online communities. On the issue of commoditisation, he talks of bespoke moving to standardized, systematised, packaged, and commoditized services.  The red line that firms don’t want to cross exists between packaged an commoditized services.  He talks of decomposing transactions into component parts, even something as apparently unlikely as, eg, litigation: eg document review, legal research, project management, litigation, support, e-disclosure, strategy, tactics, negotiation, advocacy.

Multi-sourcing…? This includes: in-sourcing, de-lawyering, relocating, off-shoring, outsourcing, sub-contracting, co-sourcing, near-shoring, leasing, home-sourcing, open-sourcing, crowd-sourcing computerising, no-sourcing.

Liberalisation — too early to say how this will unpack, eg LSA 2007, but Susskind welcomes it.

Technology: lawyers need to embrace it.  Eg email, he said, back in 1996 – all lawyers will embrace it.  Law Society condemned him for this statement.  He talked of Twitter rejection by lawyers now, calling it ‘irrational rejectionism’.  He went through a range of technologies, including cloud technologies.  He focused on big data.  Eg Google flu trends.  Apply that, he said, to the latent legal market — big data is one key to this issue.

In the context of this world, what do we do re training?  He quoted examples of radical change: Rio Tinto in outsourcing.  legalzoom.com in legal document production.  Ebay’s 60M disputes a year solved by ODR.  In the same way, e-mediation, e-negotiation will take off.

Susskind quoted the new jobs in legal services: legal knowledge engineer, legal technologist, legal hybrid, legal process analyst, legal project manager, ODR practitioners, legal management consultants, legal risk manager.  Are we training them well for these challenges, he asked?  No: in terms of his Gretsky analogy, we’re travelling to where the puck once was, rather than where the puck will be.

  1. Is current legal education generally as demanding as that provided for many other professions we respect NO
  2. Are the academic and practising branches of our profession sufficiently dovetailed?  NO

His focus today: what are we training young lawyers to become?  Traditional bespoke f2f?  Yes.  More flexible team-based, hybrid professionals, able to transcend professional and global boundaries?  No.  Is there a place for the future in our busy law curricula?  Yes.  He then went on to look at the focus of e-learning approaches, looking at simulation, etc.  Finally, he asked, are we fit for purpose?  As educators?  That’s a critically-important question.  His final exhortation to LETR: don’t end up training lawyers for the 1980s — seize control of the situation, educate for the future.  Fantastic presentation, and updated even from LawTechCamp conference couple of weeks ago…

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