Here we are. A new year. Resolutions will be made by many, but not by me (Here’s why I prefer A Daily Resolution).
I have also decided to not look back. 2013 is so, well, 2013. I am well into 2014 and I’m wondering what’s ahead? What I can do? What I can shape? Where will I have influence and impact? What do I have to accept? What do I have to let go? I’m reading Richard Susskind‘s Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future (a year after it was published), and I couldn’t get through the first chapter without writing a blog post. The recession is over. We are not only not going back to the way things were. And we are not going back to Wordperfect, or Microsoft Office 2003, or Windows 7. And yet, lawyers and law firms will continue to resist technology on several fronts: They are skeptical to new technologies. They don’t want to learn something new. The cost to train and roll out a new system. My favorite, is that new technologies will make lawyers more productive, and therefore bill less to the client (ugh). Lawyers need to step up their adaption to new technologies if the profession is to stay relevant. Legal Zoom has taken over in many areas of the law, and that is going to continue. Technology is speeding up, not slowing down, our ability to collect and process information. According to Susskind,
You can call me radical, but is seems to be that if we can see the day in which the average desktop machine has more processing power than all of humanity combined, then it might be time for lawyers to rethink some of their working practices.
Susskind goes on to make the case why lawyers need to stop resisting technology:
It is bizarre to think that in, say, two or three years’ time, our online lives will be dominated by systems that very few of us have heard of today, or indeed that may not have been devised. Three years ago hardly any lawyers had heard of Twitter. Today, more than 300 million people are users. And yet, even with that number of subscribers, I always get the sense that lawyers are waiting for Twitter to take off. In resisting Twitter and other emerging systems, what we are often witnessing is a phenomenon that I call ‘irrational rejectionism’ — the dogmatic and visceral dismissal of a technology with which the skeptic has no direct or personal experience. One key challenge for the legal progression, however, is to adopt new systems earlier; to identify and grasp the opportunities afforded by emerging technologies. We need, as lawyers, to be open-minded because we are living in an era of unprecedented technological change.” (emphasis is mine)
So why do lawyers need to be open-minded? Well, clients for one. They are insisting upon it (anyone take the Kia technology challenge yet??). Secondly, younger lawyers will insist upon it. If your technological house is not in order, how will you recruit the best and the brightest when you are the old and the Luddite? Finally, this is the world we live in. I am looking forward to 2014. My kids are culminating their schools and will be headed off to high school and middle school in the fall. I will be participating in a Leadership Institute beginning in March. I plan to spend a good chunk of the early part of my year getting my technological house in order at work. It’s time. And helping the partners look forward to a new year and a new focus. All in all, I think we’ll leave 2013 behind us for now. I’m sure there are lessons we can learn back there … but I’d rather click the page onto something new.