Growing up I spent hours strumming chords on my guitar and pondering one of the great questions in life: Have all the great hit songs already been written? How could anyone figure out some new combination of lyrics and notes that would become a truly new and different hit? It seemed like an impossible task. Surely all the best tunes had already been born.
Yet as we all know, all sorts of new songs, in all sorts of new styles (like them or not), have made the charts in the decades since. And now, another great question in life to ponder, at least for those of us who’ve chosen the legal profession, is whether all the ways to practice law have been identified and exploited. In the dusty library stacks of many a law school, you will find little to indicate that anything has changed over decades, or even centuries. However, when you step outside those stacks, it’s clear that change is all around and there is plenty of fertile ground for new ideas.
Step on to the Information Highway. It’s clear that technology is transforming our profession, and will continue to do so in ways most of us cannot yet imagine, much less try to apply to our practices. Where will the next innovations lead?
Step on to Wall Street or Main Street. It’s clear that the economic battlefront is bigger than the struggle to make payroll. Everywhere, lawyers and law firms are facing pressure to rethink their business models. With clients feeling financially squeezed and pushing for lower legal costs, some suggest that the current economic difficulties will finally force the profession to make significant changes —perhaps as far as killing the almighty billable hour. That would be a big change indeed. What opportunities will be uncovered by smart lawyers?
With change stirring all around, we focus this issue of Law Practice on innovation—the people who aim to transform and improve the way they practice law, the firms that have actually made new ideas work for them, and tips and ideas aimed at inspiring you to rethink and reimagine your practice. Special thanks to Merrilyn Astin Tarlton for her tremendous help in putting it all together.
No, we can’t replenish your retirement savings, but we can try to resuscitate your creative thinking—because yes, there will be new and original hit songs to come. And yes, some lawyers will step out ahead of the crowd and do great things in new and innovative ways. Why not you? Look to the pages of our magazine for inspiration on how you can become an innovator.