In the 10 years since Emery K. Harlan, co-founder of the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms, was featured as an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, he says little has changed for diversity in the profession.
When Ralph Baxter joined the inaugural class of Legal Rebels in 2009, he was the CEO and chairman of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe. Just a year into the biggest recession since the Great Depression, he caught the ABA Journal’s attention through his initiatives that took Orrick from a domestic, California-based firm to an international heavyweight while navigating economic turbulence.
Many lawyers are reluctant to adopt new legal technology, says Monica Goyal, who developed platforms including My Legal Briefcase, which helps parties in the Canadian small claims courts, and Aluvion Law, which uses automation to cut legal services costs for small businesses.
Perhaps in five to seven years, as Colin Rule sees it, half of U.S. citizens who file court cases will have access to online dispute resolution software walking them step by step through their matters, resolving up to 80 percent of cases.
Since the late 1990s, Joyce Raby has spent a career bringing technology to legal aid. While a booster and believer in technology's potential to improve America's legal system, her experience is tempering.
"We've been saying for a very long time that technology was going to be the saving grace for the justice ecosystem," she says. "I don't think it is."
For litigators accustomed to conducting discovery inside large warehouses surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of cardboard file boxes, combing through several forests' worth of paper to find the few relevant documents was like trying to find the needle in the haystack.
Robert Litt has confronted cybersecurity and encryption issues for two presidential administrations. With Russian interference in the 2016 election as a backdrop, Litt, an ABA Journal Legal Rebels Trailblazer, says the U.S. has been facing online threats essentially since the internet's creation.
John Tredennick started a focus on legal technology in 1988—back when law firms saw it as something limited to fancy computers and adding machines. He asked Holland & Hart, the Denver-based firm where he was a partner, to add the words chief information officer to his title. Inspiration came from an American Bar Association conference.
It's common now for large law firms to have a chief knowledge officer to determine how technology can help lawyers do their jobs more effectively. When Michael Mills first took on that type of role for Davis Polk & Wardwell in 1990, hardly any others were around to imitate. The internet barely even existed.
For more than three decades, Richard Susskind has been one of the profession's most prolific voices in support of implementing technology with legal services delivery. He's the author of more than 10 books on the topic, and his next one will focus on technology in the courtroom.