Last week I participated in the Summit on Law and Innovation at Vanderbilt University Law School. The theme of the conference was Breaking Down Silos and Building Connections—particularly between legal educators, practitioners and technologists. My role was to guide the 127 participants through a design-thinking sprint at the end of the conference, together with my amazing co-facilitators Cat Moon, Nicole Bradick and Tony Threatt.
Last weekend I co-organized an open-space conference here in Portland on the topic of the future of work. We had about 100 participants, and together we generated a rich marketplace of topics covering everything from culture, fractals, relationships and design to occupational hazards of the knowledge worker. (You can see the full list of topics on the conference website.)
My main takeaway from the conference is that the future of work involves many paradoxes. I think it is important to identify the paradoxes because otherwise it can feel like we’re contradicting ourselves, or that we’re not all on the same page—when in fact I think there was a lot of harmony among the sessions.
This article, which I co-authored with Cat Moon, originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Legal Business World.
The bold prediction of the Legal Design Summit organizers: Design thinking will change the practice of law. Earlier this month upwards of 600 people from around the world gathered in Helsinki for the second annual summit. The program featured more than two dozen speakers, including Marie Bernard of Dentons and Nextlaw Labs, Justin North and Joe May of Janders Dean, and Warren Smith of the UK’s Government Digital Service.
It’s happened to all of us. You’re at a CLE, looking forward to learning about an interesting topic from a dynamic speaker. Maybe you’ll even get some written materials that you can take back to the office to help you review the key points. Then the lights dim, the speaker is obscured in shadow, the PowerPoint slides packed with text begin to march by … and you’re fast asleep. That’s OK, you figure. “I’ll just read the written materials to get the overview.” But the “written materials” turn out to just be a black-and-white printout of those PowerPoint slides. You couldn’t make them out on the screen, and you certainly aren’t motivated to read them in even smaller type in varying shades of grey. Another epic PowerPoint fail.
What do lawyers and social entrepreneurs have in common? We need both of them in order to make positive change in the world. Social entrepreneurs are visionaries who start enterprises to solve social, cultural, and environmental problems. Lawyers are needed to help activate and sustain those businesses because, as J. Kim Wright says, law is the DNA of society.