Throughout the year, we publish issues on themes of marketing, management, finance, technology and leadership—most of the key areas that underlie the business of law. All are filled with feature articles and columns replete with practical information and how-tos for applying the information to your own practice.
But this is the Big Ideas Issue, where how-to can give way to might-be, and imminently practical can consider what it might like to do next to change the game and shake things up. I like to think of the Big Ideas Issue as a type of long-range planning session for the practice of law and its possible societal impact.
Often, voices and established ways of doing business act as a necessary brake on runaway enthusiasm for trying new things when it comes to the delivery of legal services. Such natural forces make us stop and justify departures from the norm with a cost/benefit analysis on a holistic level. Many new ideas do not survive such scrutiny or may not be implemented just yet. (Here, I am thinking of document creation by lawyers as an unimaginable prospect to many in 1987 but which is commonplace and widely accepted for the better today. I am also very old, so my perspective horizon goes out a bit.)
Ten or even five years ago, how many firms were actively considering their space needs because a fair share of their professionals wanted to work remotely from a location of their choosing? How many courts would have willingly considered videoconference hearings in lieu of face-to-face hearings where the litigants all had to travel and gather at a central location? How many partner-level lawyers were trying to grow their practice primarily through online advertising and social media participation? The likely answers might vary from “not many” to “nobody I know personally.”
But now, resistance to those ideas seems quaint and old-fashioned—notions from the time before we had to change to stay in business. I don’t think those changes are done coming. The old fears of change have given way by necessity to a new sense of hope that change can be a benefit for those willing to embrace it.
The articles in this Big Ideas Issue may seem like they flow from pandemic lessons, but I see them as road maps for highways yet to come. Consider our lead, “The Leadership Playbook for Thriving Post-Pandemic,” where Anne E. Collier discusses tools for collaborative leadership and wellness to enhance professional teamwork. Having a skilled team is good, but keeping them happy, focused and productive is a different ballgame.
In her article “The New World of Remote Work: The Impact on Wellness,” Brooke Moore looks at the impacts, pro and con, of remote work on the practicing professional.
In “Playing in the Regulatory Sandbox: A Survey of Developments,” Daniel Siegel reports on state experiments with a “regulatory sandbox” for novel forms and delivery of innovative legal services. With change on the winds for legal services, the experiences in such creative regulatory frameworks will undoubtedly have far-reaching impacts on the practice of law for all of us.
Mary E. Vandenack explores some of the newer, innovative law firm models and staffing options in her article “Evolving Law Firm Models With Innovation: Using Lessons Learned From the Pandemic.”
In his article “Moving Courts Online,” Michael L. Spekter shares his experiences with federal online court proceedings and some considerations for addressing the limitations of this new venue.
With personal contact still limited, Carol Schiro Greenwald provides a practical guide for lawyers to reorient their marketing message to a consumer-friendly approach that speaks to what internet-savvy, potential clients want in “Can Lawyers Pass Consumer Hiring Tests?” Her article provides a very helpful outline of the psyche of today’s consumer for legal services.
Do you have a big idea that will impact the profession? If so, share it with me at [email protected].