“The Breakthrough Lawyer” Keynote

Presenting “The Breakthrough Lawyer” keynote at The Legal Innovation & Tech Fest today. My key message is to ignore the doomsayers who spout that lawyers will be losing their jobs to computers etc. It’s just not true.

In the last 15 years the amount of money spent on external legal services in the US has stayed roughly the same (according to Thompson Reuters). But add to that the billions of dollars of additional money that has been invested in lawyers via growth in in-house legal teams.

Lawyers will remain critical into the future as:

1. At its core the job is one of being a relationship counsellor. Lawyers are key to relationships between people, companies and governments. No matter whether it is M&A work, environmental law or dispute resolution.
While ever there are people in the world, there will be relationships and there will be lawyers

2. The world is getting more complex and lawyers thrive on complexity. The complexity comes from external factors like energy transition and technology (AI, crypto etc) – as well as from the simple fact that governments keep creating more laws.

3. LegalTechnology generally has not been successful with replacing lawyers (other than in some very menial tasks eg. eDiscovery). But otherwise the legaltech that works best is the tech that augments the lawyer not replaces the lawyer.

I have seen this in my experience as co-founder of LawPath. We have provided legal support to over 250,000 customers. We have tried to automate legal solutions as much as possible but the biggest success is the $120/mth plan that gives customers access to a big library of precedents plus calls with actual lawyers. Before the addition of the ability to call a lawyer, the subscription plans for the library alone barely sold. Once the lawyer calls offer was introduced, subscriptions started flying off the shelf. People wanted the comfort of talking to a lawyer.

The future is bright – for lawyers with the right skills. “The Breakthrough Lawyer” is a program which teaches these skills. I piloted the program at my firm and am now working with Bond University to make it available more broadly.

Don’t believe any of that “end of lawyers” talk.

A little aside – they asked me what “walk-on music” I wanted today. I said “Ice, Ice Baby”. The organiser said “what”. I said “Vanilla Ice”. Nothing….never heard of him. That made me feel about 150 years old. Still they found & played it. The reason I chose that song is that lawyers need to be able to reinvent themselves and Vanilla Ice is the king of reinvention. After music, he became a builder, then had his own home renovation TV show and now has a lighting business called…. “Lights, Lights, Baby”

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