10 One-Sentence Ideas from LexThink.1 #ABATechShow

aba-techshow

Each six-minute LexThink.1 presentation (similar to Pecha Kucha) is just long enough to get out a single idea — if the presenter is any good. The idea is to be entertaining and clever, not comprehensive.

Actually, LexThink.1 may be entertaining for the audience, but since most of the presenters are seasoned speakers, it’s more like a dance battle. If doing polished, six-minute presentations were in any way like dancing.

I think I am doing justice to the format in reducing each six-minute presentation to its one-sentence point — if it has one — plus my commentary. You can always go and watch the presentations yourself in a week or two, when Matt Homann puts them online.

In the meantime, you will have to settle for my snarky commentary.

Roe Frazer: “Knowing the Unknowns”

I think I’ve got this right. Frazer’s entire presentation hinged on his use of the term “black swan event,” and I have no idea what he means by that. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen the movie.

Artificial intelligence — or Mechanical Turk or Big Data, or something, I’m not sure — will eat lawyers’ lunch someday.

Assuming I got that right despite my ignorance of Frazer’s central conceit, I guess the idea is that you should be afraid for your grandchildren’s practices. Actually, ignore this. Roe Frazer is apparently an internet marketing guy. I have no idea why you would want to listen to his ideas about AI or Big Data and the law, or whatever.

Chad E. Burton: “The Future of Virtual Law”

Hey, a practicing lawyer! From what I can tell from his website, Chad has actually practiced law since 2006 or 2008 or something.

“Virtual” is just a way to deliver services that can help you serve clients who don’t want to visit your office, not a replacement for, you know, actual lawyering.

Chad must have run into Scott Greenfield at some point. He got all defensive about being called a “Starbucks lawyer.”

Matt Spiegel: “The Death of the Office”

Despite heading up MyCase, Matt is also, as far as I know, still practicing law. Which may be why his software and ideas are a little different than his competition — he tests them in his own practice.

Get used to delivering legal services through technology and beat Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom at their own game.

So, basically, do what Chad said.

Sarah Glassmeyer: “Disruption in Publishing”

Sarah, who is like a militant law librarian crossed with an Internet geek, or something, lost her voice and couldn’t do her presentation. Follow her on Twitter, instead. She’s pretty cool.

Bummer. I was really looking forward to Sarah’s presentation.

Philip Rosenthal: “Flattening the Legal Tower of Babel”

I’ve learned that building a legal research database like Fastcase is frighteningly complicated. So I basically believe anything the big brains at Fastcase say about stuff, even if I don’t understand it.

It’s (long past) time to transform the legal code into a uniform system of code — for contracts, wills, and other stuff.

If it’s possible, let’s do it. I love this idea. Also, directly on point, check this out. Someone has already tried.

Jay Shepherd: “Don’t Do What You’re Good At”

Jay used to be a lawyer, then he wrote a cool-sounding book, Firing at Will, and he’s a good speaker. (Although he’s getting kind of guru-y since he closed his firm.)

Find stuff you are really really good at — not just regular good at — and charge a lot of money for it.

Duh.

Eric Hunter: “Big Data or Big Brother”

Eric Hunter is “Director of Knowledge, Innovation & Technology Strategies at Bradford & Barthel, LLP,” which sounds too cool to be a real job.

Buzzwords

I have no idea what Eric was talking about. It was either too complicated, nonsensical, or he just talked too quickly. What the hell are “spherical analytics?” What does this have to do with Neo bending a spoon?

Will Hornsby: “Gaming the System”

Will Hornsby has been staff counsel at the ABA since 1988.

Gamification will lead to greater access to justice.

The US sucks at access to justice. We’re behind countries that don’t even have stable governments. I listened to Will talk for six minutes, though, and I’m not sure how gamification will solve this problem. But hey, I like video games, so I’m in.

Mark Britton: “LegalZoom is Eating Legal’s Lunch”

LegalZoom’s dominance in the entry-level legal market will lead to its broad dominance, so you have to adopt a loss-leader strategy to compete.

I don’t buy it. LegalZoom has been around since 2001, and hasn’t gotten past the kind of forms people used to buy from OfficeMax. Using inexperienced lawyers (or non-lawyers) to prepare forms that people will buy is never going to get past the “entry-level legal market.”

Now, if LegalZoom really wants to disrupt law practice, it could hire some real, experienced lawyers at the top of their fields at market rate to build them some real forms. If that happens, we really are screwed. Although it would probably put LegalZoom out of business, in the process.

Anyway, I digress. Mark thinks you’re screwed already, so put your loss-leader prices out there to get potential clients in the door, then upsell them. “Upsell” is an unfortunate word, but good practice is giving clients what they need, not what they ask for, so maybe Mark’s idea of getting people in the door with a low-priced item they are most likely to ask for is a good idea.

Dan Pinnington: “Legal Services in a Global Village”

Dan is a malpractice insurance guy from Canada, and he says “about” exactly like you would think.

The economic model of law firms is broken, computers and non-lawyers will be our competitors in the future, and we should fight for them to be subject to the same ethical rules lawyers must follow.

This is probably right. No matter how much we try to protect the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship, not everyone wants it, and it looks like it will be watered down. Maybe ensuring everyone is subject to the same set of ethical rules is a good fallback position.

Matt Homann: “Let’s Disrupt CLE”

Maybe this is less sexy than spherical analytics, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, too. Lots of CLE is awful. Some of it is good. Why are so many of us forced to sit through awful CLE just to get credits?

CLE should be better, and technology will not necessarily make it better, because some things are better in person — like learning. Innovate the other stuff.

(Okay, that’s two sentences. Matt managed to say a lot in six minutes.)

Word, and good night.

Updated on April 22, 2013 with videos of the presentations.

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/aaronstreet/ Aaron Street

    This might be one of my favorite Lawyerist posts of all time….spherical analytics sounds amazing and important.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I am just wondering which of these speakers is going to punch me for my comments first.

      On my way to a bar to find out.

  • http://www.mha-law.com M. Hedayat

    I can’t tell you how glad I am to read this post. Wait, maybe I can. If you’re at the show this morning we’ll probably run into one another. Anyway, what I probably like best about your piece is that it gives me the warm, comforting feeling that I’m not the only legal tech writer who’s not particularly impressed by what was said last night – and to be fair, not impressed with what has been going around the blog echo chamber for the past 10 years at least:

    (a) The law is screwed;
    (b) You’re screwed;
    (c) Legal Zoom rules the world;
    (d) Shut up and pay for consulting.

    Keep up the good work.

    P.S. If you’re not pissing someone off you haven’t gotten your point across.

  • http://www.jfhendersonlaw.com/default.aspx Joe Henderson

    Nice work! This is essentially what I’d hoped to see at: http://www.techshow.com/blog/. Sadly, they haven’t added a blog entry since March 27th. As for your comments, I view Mark Britton’s as the most prescient. LegalZoom has plenty of moola these days. It simply won’t take too much capital investment to improve the legal work and the technology to make the U.I. easy for consumers. Lawyers are fooling themselves if they think they can simultaneously ignore technology AND continue to compete. Face it folks, a lot (but not all) of what we do is intelligent cut and paste.

  • DM

    These videos have convinced me that there is no hope for we lawyers.

    I can’t decide if “Future of Virtual Law” guy is a parody but I am afraid it isn’t…