This week, High Performance Counsel published a special issue, #TopOfMind. The premise was simple – to ask a collective of top thought-leaders in the legal industry what is top of mind for them – right now. Within 12 hours we had over 6,000 views on LinkedIn alone and it seems to have caught many people’s attention.
In the noise, find the signal.
On a recent trip to Chicago, I was struck by the busy-ness of the conference I was attending (that’s a good thing of course). It’s always wonderful to see an industry energized around technology and innovation especially – to see and hear the boisterous energy and earnest pitches of individuals for companies young and old.
Pulling a Crazy Ivan.
Those who watched Hunt for Red October may get this reference of running silent. It’s a technique I’ve used for many years to observe a room and others’ participation. It has served me well. So it is that in Chicago, I pulled a Crazy Ivan – stepping back to simply listen.
Speaking personally – and it’s reflected in my own #TopOfMind submission – I was again struck by the inevitability of change and the speed with which it will indeed disrupt the legal industry. Our publication is on record in our view that 2018 will be a watershed year – a year we look back on and see where the gears shifted, the pace accelerated, and competition moved into higher gear.
So it is that we asked a willing collective of insightful individuals to share their one thought each as to what is top of mind for them. We asked them to avoid marketing spin and group think. As we do with all our interviewees, we asked them to speak candidly and with authenticity – the uniqueness of their views being the pith and essence of the exercise.
You can read what each of these individuals had to say on our site here: https://www.highperformancecounsel.com – and we’ve made it easy to download a copy of the issue – in our library here: https://www.hpclibrary.com
I did, however, want to highlight a few thoughts and themes that jumped out as I read these truly remarkable submissions:
Diversity – the legal sector is blessed with vocal champions such as Laura Maechtlen, Sonya Olds Som, Erica Mason and Fernando Garcia who so clearly exemplify and articulate both the fundamental importance and commercial benefit of moving the industry to a better place in terms of diversity, inclusion and participation. At High Performance Counsel, we share their commitment and enthusiasm. We are simply better, stronger, together.
Community – the sterling leadership of individuals like Mary Mack, Kaylee Walstad and Connie Brenton of ACEDS and CLOC respectively is a huge step toward greater understanding of the opportunity ahead for law – and achieving law’s potential – for all participants, not solely lawyers. I think much of the secret of their success lies in the friendly, accessible, informational and interactive communities they have created – helping to encourage dialog and foster innovation. As the role of technology and legal operations grows, so too does the number of professionals who align with these areas as career paths. As we get glimpses of this agile, mobile, modern legal economy of professionals – consider Caleb King’s thoughts on this – so we see the critical role of communication, community, connection. They are helpfully creating a new world of professional activity and recognition outside the historical confines of the Bar.
Privacy, Cybersecurity & GDPR – unless you were hiding in a cave the last few days, you cannot have missed the deluge of breaking headlines concerning the issues of privacy and cybersecurity – and the way in which these issues are so clearly inter-woven. Equally, it would be hard not to have heard about GDPR, which is approaching rapidly. As the deadline looms, it seems to accelerate, and the implications are so very real. Occasionally we hear talk of limited opportunities in law because this or that area is being automated or is otherwise redundant. That’s clearly not the case in these areas, which are in a process of rapid acceleration. So it is with particular delight we have #TopOfMind contributions from Jared Coseglia, Judy Selby and Josh Hass on these critical topics.
Bitcoin, Blockchain and Big Disruption – some of the brightest minds and sharpest thinkers on these subjects are included in our posse. Mark Cohen reminds us to focus less on just disruptive tech but instead on the disruptive impact or outcome of its use – a good point, sometimes overlooked in the rush to be cool. Mark Yacano anticipates smarter clients being able to focus on premium, value-added work as they increasingly hand off or automate lesser-valued day to day tasks. And our dear friend, Ken Grady, speaks to the first of many corporates who will move their contract management to blockchain – and the downstream rush there will be for law firms to support this shift in model. Kris Swanson of CRAI has some timely words and we love the “wholistic” view he proposes when looking at Crypto matters in conjunction with other related areas – and avoiding a silo view. And as the world moves toward end-to-end fluid processing of contracts and agreements, so the technology enablers of this world, such as Akbar Jaffer at ZorroSign, come into their own.
#MeToo – Nancy May provides a sobering reminder of the importance of this subject within law and also within the broader governance framework. Gone are the days when corporations or law firms can turn a blind eye to this happening in their ranks. In today’s world, thankfully, we are starting to see the power of engagement, collaboration and empowerment around issues such as this. It is perilous to ignore this specifically or directionally.
Wayne Gretzky and a call to excellence in all we do – Tom Trujillo’s #BakersDozen was one of the most rewarding to publish in ’17 – a wonderful story of humility and greatness. In #TopOfMind, he references one of my favorite quotes and, indeed, one of the inspirations in the launch of High Performance Counsel. It is a call to excellence, a call to the future – a call to us all. I leave it here in closing:
“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”