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'Thinking the Unthinkable' About the Legal Profession

On his [non]billable hour blog, Matt Homann points to an interesting idea by futurist Herman Khan that Khan calls "thinking the unthinkable." The purpose of such thinking is to "loosen up the imagination in trying to forecast the future."

Homann writes that the current legal world includes services and concepts that were nonexistent a decade ago, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Avvo and LegalZoom. So what, then, is "unthinkable" for the year 2020? Homann suggests a few legal profession unthinkables, including:

  • The court system, as a venue for dispute resolution of any kind, will cease to exist. Every dispute will either be settled in mediation or through submission to a computerized, artificial intelligence system, and parties will be bound by its decision.
  • Law schools will merge with business schools to actually teach students both to "think like a lawyer" and to run a profitable business.

Here are a few of my own unthinkables for the year 2020:

  • The billable hour will cease to exist as a form of billing for law firms.
  • Law review publications will cease to exist.
  • 50 percent of U.S. law schools will close their doors due to overcapacity.
  • Jurors will be permitted to serve remotely, i.e., via computer/video connection rather than in person.

What are your unthinkable scenarios for the legal profession?

Posted by Bruce Carton on July 7, 2011 at 04:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

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