If you’d like to attend this year’s event, you can get your tickets here.
We’re pleased to announce our speaker line-up for LexThink.1 2014. Here are the selected speakers in alphabetical order:
- Christopher Anderson: People Don’t Have Legal Problems – Lean Startup for Lawyers
- Yael Citro: Stop Working Like It’s 1983
- Dan Hauck: Beyond the PDF Paradigm: Courthouses for Modern Litigation
- Will Hornsby: The End of Richard Susskind
- Marc Jenkins: I May Not Be Special But I Can Become Iron Man
- Leila Kanani: MomLaw and the 50% Solution
- Joshua Lenon: AltLegal: What Law Students Can Learn from the Alt-Acs PhD Movement
- Nehal Madhani: Lawyering in a Brave New World
- Scott Malouf: New Media, New Ethics
- Gwynne Monahan: The Data Life Raft: From Walmart to your Law Firm
- Matt Spiegel: You Are Not Irrelevant
- Matt Tollin: Small is the New Big
Thanks to everyone who submitted proposals! We’ll see you in Chicago!
AltLegal: What Law Students Can Learn from the Alt-Acs PhD Movement
With tenure track positions dwindling, PhD students have found themselves with years of specialized training and no access to their traditional jobs in academia. Specialized training and no jobs. Sound familiar? Enter the Alt-Academics movement, a grassroots response by PhD students and graduates outside of academia. Creating an alternative curriculum that pairs scholarship with employment, this movement is finding new opportunities for PhD’s outside of the Ivory Tower. What lessons can law students and law schools take from the Alt-Acs movement? Is there still time to save the legal academy?
Stop Working Like It’s 1983
The “best” lawyers going forward will be lean, doing away with unnecessary costs and cutting out institutional inefficiencies. They’ll do more — and better — work in less time with smaller staffs. Technology is going to play a key role in this transition. Much of what good lawyers do cannot be replicated by computer systems. But most of what good lawyers do can be accomplished much more efficiently and effectively through appropriate automation. We don’t want people to give up working with a lawyer, just give up working like it’s 1983. Yael Citro: Bio / Web / Twitter
People Don’t Have Legal Problems – Lean Startup for Lawyers
“Lean Startup” has transformed the way entrepreneurial businesses discover problems and deliver more focused solutions to market faster, with far less risk. Applying this to the legal marketplace will represent, for lawyers who do, the “End of Irrelevance.” Instead of thinking of ourselves as the “hammers” law school taught us to be, and looking around for the few nails that remain to pound, we must realize that we actually possess an entire toolbox, in addition to our hammers. We have the entire set of skills necessary to bring the solutions that prospective consumers of legal services need. We must bring the agility of “Lean Startup” thinking to our law firm businesses. Have hypotheses about what problems the legal market has for us to solve. Design solutions to meet those needs. Test them. Then listen, adjust, try and listen again. When we focus on problems that are pervasive, and painful enough for people to be willing to pay to solve them, we bring our clients real value. We bring solutions, leveraging our skills and technology to solve for real problems – not the ones we think they have. Solutions discovered in this way will, by their nature, be affordable and profitable to our clients, as well as to us. This transformation will herald a return from irrelevance to exigency. After all, solving problems and creating value will always have a market.
Lawyering in a Brave New World
Lawyers were once uniformly well-regarded custodians of societal and business transactions. Today, do-it-yourself solutions and alternative legal service providers are seen as viable substitutes for lawyers. Lawyers must adapt by identifying the aspects of legal work that are an “art” and the predictable and repetitive processes, which can be reliably delegated to software and non-lawyers. This talk will discuss how lawyers, particularly those in small law practices, can regain their prominence and competitive position through strategic utilization of technology and non-lawyer support in everyday practice.
The Data Life Raft: From Walmart to your Law Firm
HEY! WAKE UP. Glazed eyes, half asleep as your law firm drifts aimlessly in a sea of data, heading for the whirlpool of irrelevance like some of your Big Law brethren. “Who cares?” you whine. “That data stuff doesn’t apply to me. I make money.” Do you? Really? OK. Can you show me where it says you’re charging appropriate hourly fees? Can you tell me how you know a flat fee for some work is better than charging hourly? While we’re at it, can you tell me your top three referral sources by revenue, or volume, or both? No? Uh oh. The whirlpool of irrelevance is quickly approaching. But I have a motor to get you out: Data. Where Walmart has tools, so do you. Whatever you use contains a treasure trove of information that can help you identify your best referral sources, know appropriate fees to charge for work and let you get back to the real business of lawyering: being a zealous advocate for your clients.
I May Not Be Special But I Can Become Iron Man
I am not special. I am a competent lawyer with a proven track record. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Magna Cum Laude. I attended a top-20 rated law school. I have practiced for ten years. I developed specialized knowledge in a few areas of the law. Sound familiar? My background is remarkably similar to the man or woman across the street and many others throughout the country who are offering the same service. I comfortably fit into the highly competent middle of the bell curve. In a rapidly evolving and competitive legal marketplace, the ability to differentiate and state your unique value proposition is key. Admitting and recognizing that we are not special is the first step to sustaining our relevance. While we may not be special from a pure ability standpoint, we can become Iron Man. Tony Stark is a human but when he puts on the Iron Man suit he transforms from ordinary to extraordinary. All lawyers that combine their legal knowledge plus process design plus technology will not only maintain relevance but rise to the level of extraordinary. The combination of man and machine will always defeat a human or machine acting alone.
Beyond the PDF Paradigm: Courthouses for Modern Litigation
For the past 100 years, the way lawyers interact with courts has remained essentially unchanged: we exchange static, carefully formatted paper and PDF documents. All of the advances of the internet – search, automation, hyperlinking, etc. – are absent from this process. Motions and briefs are built upon citations, but attorneys have no way to easily create the necessary links between those documents. And the expensive, outmoded case management systems employed by most state courts only reinforce this paradigm.
What’s the answer? How about a modern, free, and open-source case management system for our courts? Keep the text in searchable, electronic form, allow easy linking, and generate court calendars with clear deadlines and hearing dates. Let’s build an application interface that empowers developers to grow an ecosystem of tools to help us better understand and interact with our courts.
The End of Richard Susskind
Modern-day Legal Futurism started with the advent of the millennium and then gained steam from the books of Richard Susskind. With titles as provocative as the litany of Bourne movies, Susskind foisted his vision of The Future on us. Sure he was mostly right, but should we be grateful for the narcissistic obsession of our futures that his progeny has generated – Evolutionary this, Reinvent that… Extinction. Disruptive Technology. Change or Die!!! The problem is all this noise is about the Future of Big Law, while most of the work of lawyering is about the needs of people. So, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the relevance of being George Jetson’s lawyer.
You Are Not Irrelevant
Solo and small firms are seemingly on the verge of extinction. Self help, a la carte websites are popping up everywhere, giving consumers quick and easy access to common legal items, allowing them to bypass the high cost associated with a live, breathing lawyer.
The odds are you have felt this effect in your own practice at least a little. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. I will talk about how you can easily make just a few changes to not only adapt to this new environment, but thrive in it. With just a little bit of tech and commitment to a slightly new business model, you can jump to the forefront of one of the biggest movements the legal industry has and ever will see.
Small is the New Big
Crowd-sourcing the practice: Can solo and small firms band together through technology to be bigger than Big Law?
SMLs (small to mid law practices) currently account for 80% of attorneys, 55/60% of revenue and over 90% of legal matters. However, for too long, technology creators, marketers and small firms themselves treat SMLs like little big firms. We need new business models. The practice of the law has never been competitive and has always been collaborative (whether through big firm conference rooms or bar associations or email listservs). There are collaborative technologies out there that allow little firms to be much efficient and profitable.
New Media, New Ethics
Attorneys are social media naturals. We generate valuable content by applying legal concepts to real, often cutting edge, problems. Those similarly-situated want to read our analysis, respond with new questions and connect with kindred thinkers. And, connections, whether built upon legal expertise or a love of duck leg confit, are the key to building a successful practice. In spite of our affinity, attorneys are suspicious of using social media. They fear embarrassment, the monetary and reputational harm of even a minor ethical violation, and the risk forming an unwanted attorney-client relationship. Attorney oversight bodies and ethical experts are also overburdened, trying to apply old rules to fast-changing services and diverse situations that raise two new questions for every answer. To mitigate these risks, I propose a separate set of ethical rules to regulate how attorneys use the top 5 Social Media sites for business purposes. The proposed rules would make use of prominent, standard disclaimers, favor black letter rules and offer simpler, palatable resolutions of minor violations. With clear, easy rules, attorneys can freely share knowledge and generate more clients, while reducing compliance costs for attorneys and burdens on regulators.
MomLaw and the 50% Solution
BigLaw is inflexible, and each year women lawyers are leaving at disproportionate numbers compared to male lawyers. Some of these women stay in law in other capacities, but a good number leave the practice altogether. While there are some flexible choices out there for lawyer moms with non law firms, these models are not designed to allow lawyers to actually retain their own practice and still have clients and business development opportunities to foster as their own. Technology, however, is changing this. The law firm of the future is a fully distributed, technology-enabled law firm filled with mom lawyers, and ones that also employs the 50% solution – where 50% of the decision-making bodies of the firm are women. This talk will focus on how a model like this would work, why it works, and why every current BigLaw mom as well as BigLaw refugee mom will want to be a part of it.