Sunday, December 8, 2013

New Grads, Technology, and the Law

A Practice Life 
I Can Hardly Imagine

Yesterday, in the context of discussing new grads working in legal temp jobs, I said:
Many of these document review jobs have begun disappearing as they move offshore or get done by computers that can scan, analyze, and report the data in ways not possible for easily-bored, human brains.  
This shift is a small part of the commoditization of law jobs that Richard Susskind discusses in his book Tomorrow's Lawyers. Commodity work will continue to lose value in the marketplace and the price for it will move towards $0.  
When I read that book this summer, I realized that a recessionary economy was just one of the challenges new grads will face over the life of their careers. But, I will save that discussion for a later posting.
This December 5, 2013 blog posting by Rohit Talwar discusses some of the "disruptive" legal technologies that new grads may face during their careers.  I look forward to reading the full report expected in January.

I especially like the notion of uploading the contents of our brains to the Cloud.  I wonder what new levels of self-awareness that might give each of us.  Could we get Big Data reports showing the frequency of certain thoughts? We apparently have some 60,000 thoughts each day.

If I had gotten a Big Data report about my thoughts during the document production I described yesterday, the report would have shown that at least 25 percent of my daily thoughts were about creme brulee.

P.S.  This morning, I looked up the recipe for a ginger and vanilla bean creme brulee, and I plan to make some today.  For a very cool TEDtalk on how cooking, as a technology, allowed the increase in human brain size, see here.

Dec. 10, 2013 Update:  This new analysis of BigLaw staffing is a must read: Did the Market for Law Firm Associates Peak 25 Years Ago, by Bill Henderson of The Legal Whiteboard.  In the referenced monograph, the author notes:
[T]he relentless increase in the complexity of business and regulation has caused many clients to strain under the weight of a tradition [BigLaw] time-and-materials billing model  This pressure is fueling the urgency for alternative billing arrangements that would incentivize efficiency and innovation.  It is also opening the door to various types of legal vendors who use process, technology, and labor arbitrage to perform a wide variety of legal work formerly handled by junior lawyers in law firms. 

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