What are the “Problem Statements?”

 

For obvious reasons, conferences typically focus on selling existing solutions. We’re focusing instead on the problems we haven’t solved.  In particular, we’re trying to bring a diverse cross-section of thinkers and innovators from across the legal landscape together to identify and better understand the most pressing unaddressed issues facing lawyers and their clients, with an emphasis on those seemingly intractable challenges that stifle innovation and improvements to client service.

What does that mean?  It means at least two things.  (1) We need to find and flesh out those discrete, definable obstacles standing between us and the most transformative legal changes.  (2) It also means we’re need to suss out those challenges that might appear to be of a lesser magnitude in any one context, but that are actually (if thought of at the right level of abstraction) challenges that arise across a range of different situations–meaning that if we can understand and define, and then solve, that common problem, the cumulative impact will be significant.

To get the ball rolling in preparation for the Legal Problems Forum, we’re asking registrants to briefly identify, in one to three sentences as part of the registration process, at least one compelling un-addressed problem they have faced (or otherwise passionate about) that they think is crying out for a solution.  We’ll be building on and refining these “Problems Statements” at Inspire.Legal on Feb. 1.

What sorts of problems should you contribute?  The possibilities are endless.  (And part of the value of this intake exercise is understanding what jumps into your mind and hear about what matters most to you.)  But think about the two numbered points made above.  What problems, if solved, do you think would lead directly (in the case of (1)) or indirectly (in the case of (2)) to most meaningful change?  And because we know that these sorts of exercises are often easier when reacting to prompts, below, we’ve included some topics that we feel passionately about (and clearly implicate a range of problems) to get the juices flowing.  We hope they’ll INSPIRE you to share some incredible challenges!

 

 

Collaboration

In 99.9% of cases, the practice of law is still run out of inboxes? How do we change that? Other than inertia and a reluctance to change, what are the biggest drivers preventing more collaborative, platform-based collaboration among clients, their lawyers, and “the other side?”

Training

Historically, junior lawyers have been trained on the job and on a client’s dime. That training model is increasingly unsustainable. Moreover, it’s not just about financing lawyer training. The rise of better automation tools and commercial-grade AI are eliminating swaths of the work on which junior lawyers used to cut their teeth. Given those changes, how do we provide lawyers with the experiential learning necessary to develop and what are the key obstacles standing in the way that nobody has effectively cracked yet?

Value Creation

We believe good lawyers can add huge amounts of value to the matters they work on.  But how do we capture and track the value created? As legal innovators, we should be committed to leveraging data and the power of analytics. But how do we understand, quantify, and then communicate effectively to the market the value lawyers create for their clients so we can work to maximize it moving forward? And what are key obstacles standing in the way (e.g., revenue-, not profit-, driven compesnation models)? Is that even relevant to how clients think about engaging outside counsel?

Designing and Evaluating Legal Tech

We all know lawyers can’t really move fast and break things in light of their professional responsibilities. So how do we effectively design and test legal technology? Where do we find the necessary sandboxes? Certain firms and business have stepped up to launch internal incubators to develop enterprise tools, for example. Is that the right model?  How else can we get technology deployed to legal practices of any material size on a timeline and with a process that’s reasonable? And in preparation or after, how do we evaluate the success of technology? What are the right success metrics? How should we quantify the value created?

Open Sourcing

Competing service providers tend to always see innovation as a competitive advantage. But aren’t there developments that would be best achieved in concert with other market players (e.g., together on a consortium or on an open-source basis), and, if so, how do we identify them? For example, in a world where the Big 4 are capturing increasingly large shares of the legal market internationally and demonstrating a willingness to make meaning capital expenditures, should law firms be acting together to bolster their practices and service model or pool data to create better training sets for AI-enabled tools?

Knowledge Management

THE key asset of any law practice is its braintrust: the collective experience and judgment accrued over the course of years of working through complex issues. But once created, how do practices access that wealth of knowledge and expertise effectively on a collective basis–particularly in the era of cybersecurity where clients are increasingly demanding their data be locked down on a need-to-know basis.  Yet, it’s those same clients who come to large, experienced firms in order to leverage their experience working on the same issues for other clients and to avoid reinventing expensive wheels. Given that tension, how do we manage our knowledge (and relationships with clients and their data) in the age of security?

Have a great addition to the prompts above? We'd love to hear it!

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