Friend of the CLS Blog Drew Conway has started a fantastic organization called Data Without Borders. DWB seeks to match non-profits in need of data analysis with freelance and pro bono data scientists who can work to help them with data collection, analysis, visualization, or decision support. Check out the video to learn more!
As I commented over at TOTM, “UC-Hastings — come on folks — this is NOT EVEN remotely serious.” Legal education is at a serious crossroads (here)(here)(here)(here)(here)(here)(here)(many others). In light of the current state of affairs, if you are at UC-Hastings in any capacity — I hope you are asking yourself — is this really the best we can do?
Lets just check the scoreboard for a moment: UC Hastings is an institution that is just a few miles from the technology center of the entire world (click for the fun map) (what an unbelievable factor endowment!). So, in light of this fact, the UC-Hastings “strategic plan” basically makes no mention of the new legal information industry and how the institution might “strategically position” its students for technology infused Lawyering of the 21st Century.
See Also – Five Years Until Legal Services Market Faces Endgame – Richard Susskind
While I really appreciate the spirit of this article, I have to say that the question posed by the author is not actually the critical one. As noted by Larry Ribstein in his post “Lawyers in Jeopardy” — the primary question raised by Watson and other forms of soft to medium artificial intelligence is their impact on the market for legal services. In thinking about this broader problem, I am haunted by the line from There Will be Blood – “I Drink Your Milkshake.” In this metaphor, technology is the straw and the legal information engineer is Daniel Day Lewis.
It is worth noting that although high-end offerings such as Watson represent a looming threat to a variety of professional services — one need not look to something as lofty as Watson to realize the future is likely to be turbulent. Law’s Information Revolution is already underway and it is a revolution in data and a revolution in software. Software is eating the world and the market for legal services has already been impacted. This is only the beginning. We are at the very cusp of a data driven revolution that will usher in new fields such as Quantitative Legal Prediction (which I have discussed here).
Pressure on Big Law will continue. Simply consider the extent to which large institutional clients are growing in their sophistication. These clients are developing the data-streams necessary to effectively challenge their legal bills. Whether this challenge is coming from corporate procurement departments, corporate law departments or with the aid of third parties — the times they are indeed a-changin’.
A variety of intermediary consulting firms and legal informatics companies have developed a robust business advising corporate clients how to find various arbitrage opportunities in the legal services market. One of the best examples is TyMetrix — who has recently leveraged more than $4 billion in legal spend data to help General Counsels and their corporate law departments drive down legal costs. Indeed, The Real Rate Report has made a huge splash (if you do know what I am talking about – I suggest you learn – because it is a pretty big deal).