Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Law 2.0 Roundtable

Last Friday I was invited to participate in the "Law 2.0" roundtable held by CU Law School and the Silicon Flatirons center for law and entrepreneurship.  25 or so attorneys from around the country (though mostly from Colorado) participated.  Primarily we discussed the framework for thinking about the move toward "Law 2.0" (loosely framed around Richard Susskind's list of disruptive technologies for law practices).  A few take-aways:
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- Process automation is the current focus of big firms and vendors, and there seems to be a fair amount of progress being made here, especially in easily commoditized fields like non-disclosure agreements (where CISCO's associate general counsel discussed their industry-leading solution), start-up financing documents, etc.  Other than a comment from Qwest's general counsel that this should be equally applicable to motions practice in litigation (which I wholeheartedly seconded--my blog is my effort at exactly this project), the focus was largely on transactional automation.
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- There was general agreement with my proposal that, while process-automation may drive down the cost of legal services, it will also permit "bespoke" services to spread to a wider market that can't currently afford such service.  This is one of the focuses of my practice--delivering high-end, bespoke litigation services to individuals and small/medium-sized businesses that would otherwise need to write off their claims or pay for only a limited defense/prosecution of claims.
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- One suggestion I made that did not gain much traction was the notion of the potential for fusion between open-source systems and knowledge management and the potential for ad hoc "firm" structures.  Most participants were skeptical about the ability to capture the "knowledge and know-how" of a practice into an open-source repository.  Unfortunately this wasn't the forum for me to demonstrate the approach to open-source knowledge management that I'm developing on this blog.  It also seemed to be outside the grasp of mostly large-firm attorneys and large corporation in-house counsel that a dynamic, ad hoc team of individual attorneys brought together to meet the specific needs of a case or client could function effectively.  In my view, this is a necessary component of any large-scale switch to open-source systems in the law because until the large firm structure becomes irrelevant there will still be incentives to develop and protect knowledge management solutions.  If attorneys group together as needed on a more ad hoc basis, then the incentive will switch toward participation in open-source systems.  Again, only Qwest's general counsel seemed to pick up on the potential value of this idea--in fact, he said this is already how Qwest handles much of its litigation.
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All together, the Silicon Flatirons project put together an excellent roundtable, and I hope I'll have the chance to participate in future events.

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