In September 2015 former Cyberspace Committee Chair Jeffrey Ritter gave a lecture at the Business Law Section’s annual meeting on what he called “Quantum Law;” basically the idea that legal systems could be integrated into technology systems. The talk attracted a large audience, and when he finished half the room left with a new vision of the future – while the other half left shaking their heads; convinced they had just spent an hour listening to the musings of a mad man. Jeffrey wasn’t alone in this vision though. Earlier that year Professor Oliver Goodenough had published Legal Technology 3.0, which contained the still to be prophetic line: “[w]e are, however, fast approaching 3.0, where the power of computational technology for communication, modeling and execution permit a radical redesign, if not a full replacement, of the current [legal] system itself.” And in Palo Alto, Chicago, and Michigan visionary leaders like Roland Vogl, Daniel Katz, and Dan Linna (more on him later) were building academic institutions designed to produce lawyers with the skills needed to bring to reality this new world of data and technology enabled law.
Now, in 2020, with a three year boom in legal technology activity, it’s obvious that data and artificial intelligence systems can play a role in litigation planning, outside counsel management, contract negotiations and the like – even if the lawyers actually doing the work aren’t always familiar with the concepts or the tools. This wasn’t obvious in 2015, although it was predictable. When, at the end of 2015, I proposed that the Business Law Section start a Legal Analytics Committee it was with the vision that data and the increasingly powerful tools for harnessing it would fundamentally, if slowly, change the practice of business law. At the time this was far from obvious – I was fortunate that the Section included leaders like Thomas Morante, Chip Lion, Pat Clendenen, and Lucian Pera who understood the importance of the vision and the inevitability of change. Thanks to them, and my original vice-chair, James May, the Legal Analytics Committee was born. For prosperity, here is a list of our original members at the finish of our first month (in chronological order):
In 2015 I couldn’t have predicted where legal analytics would be in 2020, but I could, and did, correctly predict that the availability of data and more advanced technology would change how business lawyers practice. As far as Professor Goodenough’s Law 3.0 goes, we haven’t gotten there yet – but we will. The pieces are all in place. As a managing director working on digital transformation solutions at Elevate Services (something I definitely could not have predicted back in 2015) I spend my days helping our customers position themselves for the coming changes. Because, while you can’t be certain of the changes, you can be certain that change happens.
Which brings me to the present. Effective at the end of the Section’s virtual annual meeting my tenure as Chair of the Legal Analytics Committee will come to an end. I’m pleased that vice chair Dan Linna will be stepping up as my replacement. Dan is a leading figure in the legal analytics movement. A former partner with Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn, Dan launched LegalRnD – the Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law before moving to Northwestern in 2018. At Northwestern, Dan holds positions in BOTH the law and engineering schools, where he works to build a new breed of legal technologists and data savvy attorneys. He is also affiliated with CodeX at Stanford, Bucerius Law School in Germany, IE Law School in Spain, and the Institute for the Future of Law Practice. He is a true visionary and I am looking forward to seeing the committee expand and grow under his leadership.
Unfortunately, you still will not get to meeting him in person at our September meeting. But you can continue to maintain our community using our online tools:
- Twitter – follow and use the @BLSData handle
- LinkedIn – follow and discuss at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12119994/
- ABA Connect – participate at http://bit.ly/39WFIjO
Until we meet again, stay well and stay safe.
Outgoing Chair, Legal Analytics Committee