The Trend-Spotting Trend

     Lawyers are like regular people after all.
     I know this is a controversial opinion, but check out an article that appeared this month on the Law Technology Today website, called “Top Five Trends in Legal Technology.”
     What do you think you lawyers out there are doing to stay at the top of your profession?
     Here’s the list: mobile applications, movement to the cloud, security, analytics, and artificial intelligence.
     Hmmm.
     You may be wondering what profession is not doing those things.
     OK, there are a lot of professions not doing those things, but you have to admit a lot of other professions are doing them.
     If those are really the top five trends for lawyers, then lawyers aren’t exactly innovating.
     Of course, lawyers don’t need to be technologically unique, but I have some doubts whether those five things are really trends among lawyers.
     As far as I can tell from the article, the only evidence is that some guys on a panel talked about them.
     The paragraph on artificial intelligence piece is the weirdest one. It begins with the phrase: “Though still in the early stages …”
     That doesn’t seem to indicate trendiness.
     And then there’s this sentence: “At current time, regulatory law seems to be most amiable to AI because of the prescriptive nature of its statutes but as technology evolves and machines are taught to think more like attorneys, the opportunities will be endless.”
     For whom?
     Sounds like opportunities for machine owners, not useless attorneys.
     Some firms may want to reconsider being trendy.
     By the way, Above the Law last December produced a piece with the headline, “4 Legal Tech Trends To Watch For In 2016.
     Amazingly, the Above the Law writer was half right — if being right means matching the Law Technology Today guy who was on a panel. Two of the tech trends — analytics and artificial intelligence — were on both lists.
     The fourth tech trend, however, in the Above the Law piece was a bit mystifying: “Non-lawyers starting legal startups and lawyers starting non-legal startups.”
     So the trend is for lawyers to stop lawyering while non-lawyers start lawyering?
     I guess this is the inevitable backlash to the longstanding trend of lawyers doing legal work and non-lawyers doing other stuff. No one is comfortable with their identity.
     I blame Caitlin Jenner for this.
     Then there are lists of trends that don’t seem like lists.
     In January, for example, a blog appeared at accusoft.com called “Three Legal Tech Trends to Watch in 2016.”
     Yes, there seems to be a lot of watching going on.
     The Accusoft list was this: paperless offices, digital communication, and data management and storage.
     That sounds like one trend to me — lawyers are going to use computers instead of writing stuff on paper.
     It’s a bold prediction.
     Look around your office and watch for this trend.
     
     A couple of weeks ago I recommended using economic and/or businesslike solutions for some judicial problems.
     Now we have Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski complaining in a dissent about “chubby briefs,” and saying he won’t read more than 14,000 words.
     Obviously, I can’t condone brief body-shaming, but I can see how a word-count cutoff might preserve the judge’s sanity — there are an awful lot of lawyers out there who seem to need 50 pages to say five pages worth of stuff.
     But the court is missing an economic opportunity here. If someone feels compelled to go over a page limit, then he/she should pay for it.
     Say something like an extra $1,000 a page.
     Lawyers will suddenly learn the value of concise communication or there will be money for all those extra courthouses we need.
     We win either way.

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