“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” --Mark Twain
Since the dawn of the Information Age, predicting the demise (or at least significant diminution) of the legal profession as a “human” enterprise has been popular sport in contemporary legal, political, and economic commentary—although one need not reach back further than Shakespeare or Dickens to remember that such speculation is hardly novel. The more compelling question for legal professionals and their clients, however, is not whether the world will need lawyers (and law firms) in the future, but how the world will need and best use lawyers going forward.
Lawyers must decide how we, as a profession, are prepared to change the way we practice and the services we offer to accommodate the impact of eDiscovery and the other fundamental elements of this new information era. Ultimately, there is no substitute for measured, reasoned, deliberative human judgment in the law. Unless, however, we anticipate and implement legal and business strategies and solutions that fully embrace the “new world,” we will be unable to convincingly demonstrate the ways in which the lawyer himself or herself cannot be easily replaced by other advisors or even machines. We must strive to practice in ways and produce results that provide the “value-added” component in any critical legal or business decision—and we must be willing to articulate this concept to our clients in new and increasingly transparent ways. In short, lawyers must be willing to adapt to new processes, technologies and ways of thinking to demonstrate relevance and value in a demanding marketplace.
The topic of the relevancy of lawyers in the age of eDiscovery was on center stage at the introductory session of the Georgetown Advanced eDiscovery Institute. Panelists Hon. Shira Schindlin (S.D.N.Y). Hon. John Facciola (D.D.C.) and William Butterfield joined Jonathan Redgrave to offer compelling insights about the future of lawyers and lawyering – challenging the profession to examine what superior advantage lawyers, and only lawyers, can bring to the table--to become the "$60 light bulb" of the future.
For more insights from this important discussion please see the attached Law Technology News report.