It’s been a long, hard week. Lousy weather, snow and more snow, followed by freezing rain. I was out in the John Deere Gator 6×4 at 5:30 a.m., plowing for an hour and a half to get the snow off the driveway before the freezing rain turned it into a sheet of ice. Lucky the Gator had headlights. Wish it had a roof and heater.
But it’s Friday, and that means my suffering isn’t necessarily over. I’m taking the train to Cooper Union to see ReinventLaw in the flesh. Given all the less-than-positive things I’ve said, how could I not?
The word on the street is that it’s “sold out,” which is a curious description given that there was nothing to sell in the first place. Tickets were free, and LegalTechNY was in town this week, so the same crowd for one could attend the other. Plus me.
My first thought was that I wouldn’t attend, as I had offered to speak if the #ReinventLawprofs, Renee Knake and Dan Katz, were interested in subjecting their baby to mildish scrutiny. My phone never rang. I really wasn’t shocked.
But then, I thought of you. What if I was wrong? What if I prejudged ReinventLaw, having only seen it through other people’s eyes? Was it not incumbent on me to spend a day, a single friggin’ day of my life, at Reinvent Law so you wouldn’t have to?
The ABA Journal offered a preview of the greatness to be, which was subtly entitled, ‘Brain Olympics for lawyers’ kicking off at ReInvent Law NYC conference. Of course, the ABA Journal is the sponsor, so it’s in their self-interest to say nice things about their Legal Rebel prawfs. If that doesn’t sound titillating enough, consider what will be offered:
According to Katz, the conference will also examine how technological and real-world changes could affect the legal industry, and singled out wearables such as Google Glass and innovations like computable contracts as transformative forces.
“Wearables” used to mean a power tie or the winter white peep toes. No more. Lucky for me, I already use Google and wear glasses, making me a quasi-early adopter, because I would otherwise be inadequate to the task of attending:
Katz also acknowledged that this conference won’t be for everyone. “This conference is for early adopters and the early majority,” says Katz. “That is what we’re focused on. If you’re part of late majority, then this is not for you. We’re focused on where we believe things will go and on people thinking of doing something different.”
It’s unclear whether the late majority overlaps with the silent majority, but my math background suggests that there can’t also be an early majority. It’s at least one majority too many, even for lawprofs. Well, maybe not these lawprofs.
I can’t help but think that Renee’s advance “disclaimer” was meant for me. It’s not that she’s dodging my skeptical scrutiny, but that I’m just not “early” enough to “get it.” Ah, the joys of circular reasoning, so that no one can call her baby ugly, no matter how ugly it may be.
At least the format should serve to keep my gnat-like attention from wandering.
In the spirit of the rapid-fire pace of change, the majority of speakers at the conference will have only a few minutes to talk about their subjects. Speakers get to make 18 slides and the slides advance every 20 seconds, regardless of whether or not the lawyer is ready to move to the next one, says Susan Hackett, chief executive officer of Legal Executive Leadership, who refers to the event as the “Brain Olympics for lawyers.”
Because in these “brain Olympics™,” anything over six minutes is wasted. And really, who would be interested in transformative forces and disruptive technologies that require more than six minutes to explain? Depth is so old-school. Fast and furious is what’s happening.
And that may be the truest part of reinventing law, that there will be no idea, no concept, worthy of more than six minutes of our time. But then, you won’t have to waste those six minutes, because I will do so for you.
What remains to be seen is whether it will leave me with enough time to take notes, or keep presentations in my head, before the next blitzkrieg of coolness begins. One of my fears (seriously) is that the time needed to process, no less ponder, the never-ending bombardment of slides and adjectives won’t be there.
But I’m bringing my pen and yPad to do my best to follow and remember. I promise to try, and to be as fair and open-minded as possible. You never know, I may see the next truly disruptive idea in law today. It could happen.
I hope there will be alcoholic beverages afterward. Something transformative and disruptive will probably be just what I need, served in a google glass. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went. And if you never hear from me again, don’t let Richard Susskind leave the country. Wish me luck.