This post may not have the lyrical flair of The Three Tenors, but hopefully you will find something useful (if not quite musical) by following the fusion of the thoughts of the three law professors that I recommend to you today.
Earlier this summer, I was honored to be asked to give the keynote address on the Future of Law Practice for the Indiana Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference that had the Future of Law as its theme. That was certainly a great honor and it was a great conference. It also gave me the opportunity to hear a presentation “Ethics –Where Are We Now?” by Indiana University law Professor William D. Henderson. Professor Henderson blogs on The Legal Whiteboard blog on the Law Professor Blogs Network. His area of focus is the legal profession and legal education. He is likely a familiar name to many readers of this blog as he is frequently quoted by many media outlets on changes in the legal profession. His presentation was excellent and I will never think of paragraph  of the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in quite the same way again.
So today, I urge you to read Prof. Henderson’s most excellent law review article Letting Go of Old Ideas, 112 Mich. L. Rev. 1111 (2014). It is a review of two very influential books published in 2013 about the changes confronting the legal profession: The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis, authored by Steven J. Harper and Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future by Richard Susskind.
Both of these books are important reading for lawyers today. But Prof. Henderson’s concise and readable review, peppered with his own observations, makes for an extremely important resource, combining the thoughts of three of the most important scholars of change in the legal profession. The books cover the similar subject matter from very different perspectives.
“In suitable lawyer fashion, both books are unfailingly analytical. They both also argue that the old order is collapsing. The Lawyer Bubble is backward looking and laments the legacy we have squandered, while Tomorrow’s Lawyers is future oriented and offers fairly specific prescriptive advice, particularly to those lawyers entering the legal field at a time when the number of traditional (what I call “artisan”) legal jobs is shrinking.” at 1111
Prof. Henderson also includes the thoughts of writers like Daniel Pink and Clay Shirkey. (“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”) You may be tired of hearing the phrase “disruptive technologies.” But his division of these technologies into two main “buckets:” faster–cheaper and better–cheaper (page 1126) helps the reader make better sense of this well-used term.
This twenty-one page article is definitely worth your time, especially since the Michigan Law Review has made it so easy to open and download. I extend my thanks to all three of these professors. Like so many, I have been frustrated with the “nothing wrong here, enroll in law school now!” pieces by some law school professors and even a law dean. I do not doubt that our profession has a bright future, but that future is brighter for those who are willing to do as Prof. Henderson suggests and let go of many old ideas. The challenges brought by advances in technology is not limited to our profession. See The Guardian’s Robot Doctors, Online Lawyers and Automated Architects: the Future of the Professions?
Some new lawyers desire a career serving corporate America, while others seek to be a lawyer for people. There is significant guidance for each career path contained in Prof. Henderson’s law review article and in the books he reviews.