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Friday Five Trending

Trending: ReInventing the Practice of Law

By Kandy Hopkins

In this new monthly Friday Five feature, we’ll be zeroing in on what’s trending each month in the business of practicing of law. To kick things off, Kandy Hopkins distills the “word on the street” (okay, make that on the web) about the ReInvent Law NYC conference.

Founded by two Michigan State University College of Law professors, ReInvent Law Laboratory is all about promoting innovation in the profession. One of the key ways it’s doing that is through a series of conferences that keep gaining buzz — including the recent ReInvent Law NYC.

The daylong conference in New York City gathered more than 800 attendees who watched nearly 40 speakers, in an event “devoted to law, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the legal services industry.” The word on the web from those who attended? While the conference didn’t answer exactly how or when technology will transform the legal industry, it did offer two things not often seen in the industry: hope and possibilities. Here’s some scoop on more things bloggers and others are sharing about the conference and its innovation theme.

1. The highlight reel. For all of us who couldn’t attend, these bloggers were kind enough to share a rundown of the speakers, including highlights and a few personal takeaways:

Plus, the LexBlog Network put together a curated Twitter commentary page of each speaker’s session.

2. Focus on clients. It seems perhaps the biggest takeaways for solos and small firms came from presenters Kyle Westaway, Susan Hackett and Ron Friedmann. Westaway contended that firms should run their businesses like a startup, allocating the majority of their time to client service (70 percent) and improving client service delivery (20 percent). Hackett’s presentation, “It’s the Client, Stupid,” asserted that attorneys need to focus more on clients’ needs, not their own. And Friedmann, in his presentation on “Do Less Law,” said that to better serve clients (and reduce costs), lawyers should practice “preventive law.” For more, see:

3. “Tiny law” gets a spotlight. An innovative idea that will most likely have a larger impact on small and solo firms than on BigLaw is the idea of “tiny law” applications that offer “easy ways for lay people to create and execute contracts,” according to Shake founder Abe Geiger, who presented at the conference. Whether such applications will be detrimental to small and solo firms is up in the air, but check out these pieces discussing the implications:

4. Not all was golden (or new). Nothing’s perfect, and for at least some attendees, this event was no exception. Several news stories and posts opined that while the mission of ReInvent Law is valuable — and desperately needed — the NYC conference seemed to focus on some old ideas, lacked diversity and didn’t offer much for solos or small firms. Check out:

5. Change is possible. Based on the blogosphere’s reactions, perhaps the real value of ReInvent Law NYC was that it engendered hope and the feeling that change is indeed possible. “To my mind … the significance of ReInvent Law was not in any single presentation or even in the event itself,” Robert Ambrogi wrote. “It was that ReInvent Law was a manifestation of the moment in which we now find ourselves in legal technology — a moment of unprecedented innovation and creativity.” A lot of us can agree that’s pretty exciting.

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Categories: Daily Dispatch, Friday Five, Innovation, Managing a Law Firm, News and Trends
Originally published February 28, 2014
Last updated May 11, 2020
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Kandy Hopkins Kandy Hopkins

Kandy Hopkins is a Contributing Editor at Attorney at Work. A Chicago-based freelance writer and copy editor, she specializes in legal and healthcare  topics, formerly blogging for the Thomson Reuters-affiliated Hildebrandt Blog. Whenever she’s asked, “So, what do you do?” she always replies, “Whatever I think I can get away with.” Most people think she’s joking. Contact Kandy at

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