Welcome to The Algorithimic Society

A writer must write…

Charles Dickens

Many of you know me from my essays on SeytLines where I was the Editor and Principal Author. That blog was recognized as one of the ABA Blawg 100 in 2015. But, I have taken up residence as the Editor and Principal Author of The Algorithmic Society. Same author, different location. For those of you who are just joining the party, thanks for coming aboard.

The Algorithmic Society focuses on the how we can change the legal industry. “Change” evokes many emotions. For some, it means throwing out what they know and bringing in the unfamiliar. For others, it means adding new skills. For most, it means risk. It brings to mind the admonition of General Eric Shinseki, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

I think of change as opportunity. For clients, it is the opportunity to get high quality legal services at affordable prices. It is the opportunity to improve quality, get what you need not what lawyers want to deliver. For lawyers, it is the opportunity to develop the legal services practice of the future. It is the chance to regain the mantel of strategic advisor while doing the mundane work through appropriate and cost effective means. It is the opportunity to re-gain relevance in the eyes of our clients. For legal services providers other than lawyers in law firms, it is the opportunity to build new and disruptive business models and to demonstrate their value as full-fledged members of the legal industry.

There are two other major groups who benefit. The first is that group who today does not get legal services. We must address this issue head on, not because it is an embarrassment, not because it affects public opinion of lawyers, but because our failure to do so is having a detrimental affect on society as well as the people. If you lose your house, your job, your privacy, or your health because you can’t afford a lawyer to protect your rights (or, worse yet, you don’t believe a lawyer will be effective), you get angry. Angry people lash out. We have a society governed by anger, not rational thought.

That brings us to the last group — society. A society cannot function without the Rule of Law. Where 80% of the legal needs of a majority of the population are not met, where elite clients won’t recommend their primary law firms because the service quality is mediocre, and where alleged criminals would rather plead guilty than wait for free legal representation, Rule of Law is slipping through our grasp.

The Future Is More Interesting Than The Past

Enough of the bad, let’s focus on the good. Where will these changes take us? How can we capitalize in the opportunities given us? What role can tech play? What role should it play? How do we work with tech? Where can we use process improvement? Project management? What metrics should we use?

These types of questions go on and on. These are the types of question I will explore on The Algorithmic Society. I will do more than talk about questions. I will share answers. I will show new paths for legal services delivery. I’ll talk about artificial intelligence — what it really means, how it is being used, and what we can do with it.

I also will explore the future of legal services delivery and substantive law. They were separated for a long time, but they are converging. How we deliver legal services has a lot to do with access to justice, and not just for the poor. Changes in how legal services delivery and law intertwine may start at the bottom and filter up. But, even the wealthy will have to ask whether they want to pay for Rolls Royces and get Yugos. McKinsey & Co. learned this lesson in consulting so we must assume the elite law firms will catch on eventually for legal services delivery.

We have a lot to discuss. Please share your ideas, comments, and concerns with me. Let’s get started.

About: Ken is an Adjunct Professor at Michigan State University’s College of Law and a Member of its LegalRnD Faculty. You can follow him on Twitter @LeanLawStrategy, connect with him on LinkedIn, and follow him on Facebook.