'Brain Olympics for lawyers' kicking off at ReInvent Law NYC conference
When Michigan State University College of Law professors and Daniel Katz and Renee Newman Knake held the inaugural ReInvent Law conference last year, they chose Silicon Valley as their venue of choice, because they wanted to focus on innovative tech startups and how they were changing the face of the legal industry. They then held events in Dubai and London.
Now, ReInvent Law has come to New York City.
On Friday, the ABA Journal, alongside Michigan State University College of Law and the Kauffman Foundation, will present ReInvent Law NYC. The free, all-day event will take place at the Great Hall in New York City’s famed Cooper Union and is expected to feature over 40 speakers hailing from law firms, consulting companies, legal services providers, corporations and academia. The sold-out conference is intended to reflect its founders’ desire to include a larger swath of the legal realm.
“This year, we wanted to include more lawyers, firms and general counsel,” says Katz, who along with Knake was one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels of 2013. “Especially people who are using technology or a new business model to take the legal practice and make it more efficient.”
According to Katz, the conference will also examine how technological and real-world changes could affect the legal industry, and singled out wearables such as Google Glass and innovations like computable contracts as transformative forces.
Katz also acknowledged that this conference won’t be for everyone. “This conference is for early adopters and the early majority,” says Katz. “That is what we’re focused on. If you’re part of late majority, then this is not for you. We’re focused on where we believe things will go and on people thinking of doing something different.”
In the spirit of the rapid-fire pace of change, the majority of speakers at the conference will have only a few minutes to talk about their subjects. Speakers get to make 18 slides and the slides advance every 20 seconds, regardless of whether or not the lawyer is ready to move to the next one, says Susan Hackett, chief executive officer of Legal Executive Leadership, who refers to the event as the “Brain Olympics for lawyers.”
“This format is very interesting for the audience, since speakers will do more extreme things to make their talk work in six minutes. But it only works if the speakers find a way to get into the grit of their topic in a very short time,” says Hackett. “When it’s done well, it’s quite literally magical.”
For instance, nine speakers are scheduled to talk during a one-hour block in the morning on a swath of subjects including price transparency; the need for more legal hackers; and the future of passwords. Other sessions will touch on topics as diverse as predictive coding, immigration reform and 3D printing. Hackett herself will make her ReInvent Law speaking debut in the afternoon with a presentation entitled “It’s the Client, Stupid!”
“We take a lot of smart people and give them very little time, so they have to condense their time into small morsels,” says Katz. “We live in an age when higher bandwidth is needed. As such everyone goes on one stage and talks one after another so that they can cover as much as possible. It’s like getting a debrief on a lot of topics.”
Daniel Linna, Jr., a litigation partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, says he is excited about the format. Linna, whose presentation is entitled “Law Practice: From Art to Science,” will be speaking at ReInvent Law for the first time, having been a spectator the previous year. “It really requires people to sharpen their thoughts,” says Linna. “It’s very high energy and fast paced. Plus you get to learn so much about so many different topics. That’s what really attracted me to it.”
Learn more about the scheduled speakers and speeches on the ReInvent Law NYC website.
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