June 2013 Bar Bulletin
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June 2013 Bar Bulletin

A New Framework: Are We Going to Reinvent Law?

By Robert W. Zierman


This past March, Michigan State University's (MSU) ReInvent Law™ took a road trip to Silicon Valley.1 ReInvent Law is a concept driven by some of MSU's associate faculty members who are seeking to combine: law + tech + design + delivery™. At its website, ReInvent Law asks its viewers to "imagine a world where quality legal services are affordable, accessible, and widely-adopted."2

Well, Aric Press of The Am Law Daily attended and posted that which his imagination conjured for "the future of law practice" as follows:

It will be user-friendly and accessible via bright and fresh retail shops with the ambiance of Apple stores. It will be data-driven, with litigators turning to enormous databases capable of predicting results and guiding strategy. It will have the charm of an assembly line that parcels work out across time zones and specialties in structured processes certain to warm the hearts of project managers. And it will be beautiful. Imagine strings of case citations rendered as computer-generated graphics as appealing to the eye as they are to the analytical mind.3

In a "post-Lehman Brothers world" in which the economy in general - and law in particular - is going through "the great reset," economics consultant to New York-based, "large, sophisticated law firms," and web log author at www.AdamSmithEsq.com Bruce MacEwen, though perhaps failing to take notice of the event itself, did read Press's article and decided to react.

MacEwen ran a post titled: "ReInvent Law: Real or Memorex?"4 As a rather typical New Yorker - whose center of gravity will on occasion allow him to stray to London - MacEwen relates to his reader the image that had years ago been advertised in New York's Times Square (and ubiquitously beyond) of the iconic "stoner being blasted back in his chair by music coming from, presumably, a Memorex tape."

MacEwen sought to draw this image because, though the "recording tape has gone the way of camera film ... in certain precincts of the nostalgic and the ironic the phrase 'real or Memorex?' still stands in for 'real or faux?'" In other words, MacEwen wasn't sure if he should be "buying" ReInvent Law.

What to do? MacEwen concluded his post with a survey.5

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