Before Doing Differently, We Have to Teach Differently

Author:Omar Ha-Redeye
Date:March 06, 2016

During the Toronto launch of Doing Law Differently this past week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jordan Furlong and some of the NewLaw Pioneers featured in the report. Nate Russell previously summarized the report here.

The report is important because the changes in the legal profession don’t affect anyone more acutely than law students and young lawyers, who will actually live to see the changes sweep across the industry. “This report needs to be read by every student in the country,” said Fred Headen, a past President of the Canadian Bar Association and chair of the CBA Legal Futures Initiative.

Mark Morris of Axess Law, one of the pioneers featured in the report, described how they are already one of the leaders as notaries and conveyancers, and are already breaking into family law. The difference in their approach is they studied best retail practices and developed their law practice around that to handle large volumes. Their innovation was to differentiate by adopting what other industries have already perfected.

Samuel Witherspoon of Mira Law said that “family law has a massive access to justice problem.” They sit in the middle ground between those who can afford legal aid, and the very few who can actually afford a lawyer.

Shelby Austin of Deloitte Canada, another pioneers featured in the report, emphasized that big law firms still offer incredible training that young lawyers shouldn’t forego.

The training they provide though rarely develop the skill sets for the legal alternatives, because the alternatives is not what their business is focused on. These law firms, and the legal system, offers no guarantee of opportunities or employment to the lawyers of the future. D. Casey Flaherty speaks to the future in The End of Lawyers, Period.,

The law does not exist to keep lawyers employed…

We’re trying to introduce something innovative and useful. We’re trying to make things better…

Lawyers don’t warrant special protection from progress.

“It’s The End Of The World Lawyers As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”

Witherspoon, the most recent law graduate of the group present, noted that there were no legal resources focusing on NewLaw at all when he was in law school at the University of Calgary. He recommends Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to learn to program, with free classes from MIT and Stanford.

Some law schools are trying to change that. At a “Technology and Transformation in Law Advisory Group” meeting I was invited to...

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