In the last of our conference preview blogs, I highlight two of our speakers who will expand our thinking about the meaning of innovation.
When we talk about innovations in law, many of us go right to technology. The advice you may hear in your head is, “Put down the legal pad and grab an app.”
Not so fast, say two of our The Future is Now speakers next week. We need to be deliberate and intentional about innovations in the legal space. Too much is at stake to embrace technology as a panacea.
Nicole is a lawyer who knows legal tech. Before starting legal and tech product development firm Theory & Principle earlier this year, Nicole was Chief Design Officer at CuroLegal. Nicole has designed applications for both consumers of legal services and suppliers of legal services. For example:
- Hate Crime Help: people who believe they may be victims of a hate crime can input the type of incident, the location/zip code where it occurred, and what the victim believes the motivation was. They receive applicable resources such as advocacy groups, police, social services agencies in that area.
- Veterans Legal Check Up: a site developed with the American Bar Association and ARAG Legal Insurance, the site is designed to identify problems for which there may be a legal solution, including housing, employment, and family issues, to help veterans and also caseworkers, social workers, lawyers, and others who help veterans.
- ABA Blueprint: this site provides technology tools and advice for solo and small firm practitioners–both ABA members and those who are not ABA members. (Though it clearly highlights to users the relative cost savings by becoming an ABA member.) Users of the site click on what they seek, for example, starting a firm, getting paid, e-Discovery, or insurance, and click through to read about vendors and savings that may apply on subscriptions.
Nicole says that “technology gives us a unique ability to increase access to and understanding of the law.” She also lauds law school programs and conferences focused on access to justice technology. Nicole says it is great that students and lawyers are being taught to think in innovative ways about longstanding problems in the country.
However, she will convey two cautions: 1) we have to make sure any legal tech product has a good interface with its users; and 2) we cannot forget to advocate for systemic change.
Nicole will explain next week about the difference between “good” and “bad” applications. And in music to my ears, she will also point out the importance of staying engaged in pro bono, raising funds for a service-based non-profit or legal aid organization, and educating the public about the law.
Dan is Director of MSU Law’s LegalRnD and an adjunct professor at University of Michigan Law and (soon) Northwestern Law. He came at legal education after successful careers as a practitioner (he was equity partner at Michigan-based Honigman, an AmLaw 200 firm) and an IT manager and consultant.
Dan decided to move past anecdote and innuendo to a critical, analytical approach to measuring innovations. What he found validates that change is occurring in the legal field—both in law firms and law schools. It’s just not happening evenly.
Showcasing that legal services innovations are broader than an app or tech product, Dan catalogs innovations occurring in the law firms by not only product, but also service and consulting. Seventeen tools or disciplines are analyzed including: alternative fees, artificial intelligence, data analytics, information management, process improvement, project management and services.
Dan’s research also breaks down the data at the law firm level as to 263 of the world’s biggest law firms (the number of unique firms in the AmLaw 200, Canadian Top 30 and Global 100). Surprisingly, only three firms have one or more innovations in each of the categories of products, services and consulting: about nine U.S. firms are tagged with several innovations each.
Dan also created a Legal Innovations Index for law schools. Obviously, law schools train future lawyers. They have been criticized for failing to update their curricula and failing to prepare students for 21st-century practice.
Dan’s index moves us beyond generalizations and broad rebukes, and takes a data-driven approach to analyzing which law schools have undertaken significant efforts to align law school education with the knowledge and competencies that students need for long-term career success.
How he breaks this down will be helpful for law students, future law students, and legal employers alike.
The Future is Now: Legal Services 2.018 conference is May 2, 2018 at VenueSIX10, 610 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago from 10 am to 4:45 pm with a reception to follow. The conference qualifies for five hours of professional responsibility CLE, including one half hour of diversity-inclusion CLE.
Please register before we reach capacity!