I had an interesting conversation with an industry colleague yesterday. He made reference to my “super power”: The ability to shake things up. Others refer to it as being a PITA (pain in the a$$). Or bossy. Or, how’s this: a strategic thought leader unafraid of taking risks to achieve results.
I used to be afraid of my super power. I used to shy away from it, down play it, sit on the sides of the conference room table rather than in the center to not over-power a room.
If I’m going to “lean in” to anything, it’s going to be being change-agent.
Today begins that process for me. I was recently appointed to the State Bar of California’s Access Though Innovation of Legal Services (#ATILS) and we have our first meeting today. I am one of several “non-lawyers” (or, as I like to call us: consumers of legal services, California citizens, members of the legal eco-system, business executives) appointed to the panel.
Our charter, which I have chosen to accept:
The Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services is charged with identifying possible regulatory changes to enhance the delivery of, and access to, legal services through the use of technology, including artificial intelligence and online legal service delivery models.
I have been talking and blogging–Is the “game changer” for the legal industry finally here?–about this since the Legal Market Landscape Report commissioned by the State Bar was released earlier this year. The report calls out ABA Rule 5.4 which, amongst other things, mandates that law firms and providers of legal services be owned by licensed attorneys (oftentimes referred to as barring “non-lawyer” ownership, but we know I’m not a fan of that term).
From the report:
The legal profession is at an inflection point that requires action by regulators. Solving the problem of lagging legal productivity requires lawyers to closely collaborate with allied professionals from other disciplines, such as technology, process design, data analytics, accounting, marketing and finance. By modifying the ethics rules to facilitate this close collaboration, the legal profession will accelerate the development of one-to-many productized legal solutions that will drive down overall costs; improve access for the poor, working and middle class; improve the predictability and transparency of legal services; aid the growth of new businesses; and elevate the stature and reputation of the legal profession as one serving the broader needs of society.
The exploration of abolishing this rule will break open the lock the industry has placed on itself. It will impact technology. It will impact the delivery of legal services. It will impact the law firm.
I was obviously not appointed to the task force to be a wallflower, rubber-stamper, go-with-the-flow participant. But I’m a professional.
I am mindful that I am representing a demographic of the legal ecosystem, as well as the many Californians who are priced out of purchasing the most basic of legal services, not to mention the association back to my employer. I also understand and appreciate the impact it could have because, as the saying begins, “As goes California ….”
But this is an opportunity that might not come around a second time, and I’m not going to allow it to pass me by.
My plane is making it’s final approach, so I’m going to have to shut things down for now. Please follow my blog and the Twitter hashtag #ATILS. My understanding is that the task force will be live-streamed. If so, I’ll circulate the link.
I suppose we are about to find out if the game changer is really here.