ABA Techshow 2014

LexThink.1 tackles how collaboration may help firms stay relevant during flux


Collaboration is important for lawyers if they wish to avoid becoming irrelevant.

That was the main takeaway from the fifth annual LexThink.1 event. Founded by Matt Homann, CEO of Kendeo, and held on the eve of the ABA Techshow, LexThink.1 welcomed a dozen speakers to the stage at the Hilton Chicago to discuss ways lawyers can reinvent themselves to stay relevant during changing times. Representing legal startups and commercial vendors as well as small and medium-size law firms, the speakers adhered to a rapid-fire format that limited their speeches to six minutes each. Similar to February’s ReInvent Law NYC conference, LexThink.1 encouraged lawyers to embrace technology as a way to better serve their clients and create efficiencies in their practices.

Several LexThink.1 speakers also extolled the virtues of working outside the traditional BigLaw paradigm, emphasizing the flexibilities of small, medium-size or even virtual firms.

The overriding theme, however, was collaboration. For lawyers, the concept might seem foreign, as Matt Spiegel, vice president and co-founder of MyCase, pointed out. Spiegel, who helped create MyCase after spending several years at a large personal-injury law firm, noted that firms could learn a thing or two from the tech startup culture—which for his company includes hacky sack sessions, Call of Duty video game contests and daily snack runs. “We have fun, but we’re extremely productive,” Spiegel said. “The tech startup culture is about creating a fun atmosphere based on collaboration and focus.”

VIRTUAL POWER

Thanks to technology, collaboration doesn’t have to be in person, as Intermix Legal Group co-founder Leila Kanani pointed out. Kanani argued that women have long been overlooked within the Am Law 200 and noted that only 15 percent of the equity partners at those large firms are women. By utilizing cloud-based software, interactive tools and social media, women could band together and form their own multilocation, multijurisdictional virtual law practice. “Women lawyers are the fortune tellers of the future of law,” said Kanani. “They’re the first to see that traditional models don’t work.”

It is also vital to collaborate with technology. Marc Jenkins, vice president of knowledge strategy at software startup Cicayda, argued that lawyers could enhance their practices by working with, rather than against, technology, and he pointed to Garry Kasparov as an example. Despite losing to IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer in a celebrated 1997 rematch, Kasparov saw an opportunity to create a new, advanced form of chess in which humans and computers work side by side. “You can’t race against technology,” Jenkins said. “Otherwise, you’ll be irrelevant.”

Homann announced from the stage that this year’s conference would be the final one to feature the six-minute rapid-fire format. He said he couldn’t say how it would change, but he promised it will be something new.

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “Think Together: LexThink.1 tackles staying relevant during flux.”

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