Setting the Scene
"Imagine it is the year 2020. Plaintiff, a dissatisfied attorney, has brought suit against the entire legal tech industry, alleging that the claims and promises it made in 2016 amount to fraud and false advertising. Using a moot court format, this session explores some of the legal tech community’s grander predictions, and examines the various ways the community might succeed (or fail) in reaching these lofty goals.”
Stipulated “Promises” Made By Legal Tech in 2016
- Legaltech will “disrupt” the legal profession.
- Legaltech will increase access to justice.
- Legaltech will increase access to legal information.
- Legaltech will increase access to lawyers/make it easier for people to find a (good) lawyer.
Judges and Counsel
The panel of judges included Deborah Hensler, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Director of Law and Policy Lab at Stanford Law School, and Jason Solomon, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lecture at Law, also at Stanford Law School.
Counsel for the Plaintiff were Keith Lee (@associatesmind), founder of Associate's Mind, attorney at Hamer Law Group, and adjunct professor at the Birmingham School of Law, and Sam Glover (@samglover), Editor in Chief of Lawyerist, and former owner of The Glover Law Firm in Minneapolis.
Lee admitted, in an Associate's Mind article leading up to the event, that they might have been at a disadvantage considering their audience:
"If you’re a real live practicing lawyer reading this, the first thing you thought after reading all that was: 'Keith, you and Sam are about to [be] homecooked...' If this were a real trial, we’d bring a motion to change venue on account of Stanford’s pro-tech bias."
Undaunted by the challenge, Glover opened by stating,
"LegalTech showed a cavalier disregard for the complexity of legal problems in this country and instead just tried to run out there and solve problems without really understanding them."
Rebutting Glover's statement, Arredondo shifted the burden, arguing,
"The problem is not getting legal tech to understand that there is a problem, the problem is getting lawyers to admit that they have a problem and be willing to face it."
Disruption vs. Evolution
One of the mostly hotly contested points turned out to be whether or not legal tech had been sufficiently "disruptive." When plaintiffs argued about the meaning of the term, Judge Solomon offered this definition:
"Lawyers are able to deliver greater value at lower costs... That is extremely disruptive in my mind."
Turning to the defense, Asay challenged:
"You mentioned before that plaintiff was setting the bar too high. Do you think it's possible that the legal tech industry is setting the bar too low?"
On behalf of the plaintiffs, Lee suggested that legal tech had only built a better mouse-trap. His co-counsel, Glover, further stated that "there's been no disruption, there's been steady evolution, but those are different things."
Heller countered on behalf of the legal tech industry with passion:
"What has changed about it is the interaction, the ease of use, the cost... [Y]ou don't feel velocity, you feel acceleration. We are sitting in a place now where we're moving so fast at 2020 that we have forgotten how fundamental some of these changes actually are."
The Real Winners
The winner? While counsel for both the "dissatisfied attorney" and the legal tech industry brought forward excellent points, we might have to agree with Adam Ziegler of Harvard Law:
Special thanks to Jeena Cho and Joshua Lennon for their fun shout-outs to our founder, Alma Asay, who enjoyed getting back to her litigator roots to play judge for a day.
Watch the video below, or on Youtube.