We talk about legal tech, fear and entrepreneurs as we review an article from the Harvard Business Review, and interview lawyer and legal tech gadfly, Dan Lear from Right Brain Law, about embracing change, and the future of legal tech.
Law Firm Technology, Entrepreneurs, Fear and Fearlessness
Today’s Hot Take comes from an article on Harvard Business Review called “How Fear Helps (and Hurts) Entrepreneurs” by James Hayton and Gabriella Cacciotti. According to the article:
” While ‘fail fast and often’ is the constant refrain of the lean startup movement and many others, no one really wants to fail. Failure has many ramifications that it would be foolish to overlook or downplay, including potential bankruptcy, repossession of workers’ home, social stigma, and people losing their livelihoods. Most existing research has thus focused on failure as an inhibitor of entrepreneurship.
Our research shows a more nuanced picture: Fear can inhibit and motivate. Rather than simply stopping people from being entrepreneurial, fear of failure can also motivate greater striving for success.”
While this might seem a bit negative, the authors continue with the line of thought that by approaching and addressing the existence and reasons for fear, you will end up learning and understanding that it is actually something you should learn to live with – not abolish. It can drive you to innovate and use networks, be comfortable taking risks (within reason) and therefore take advantage of opportunities be unwilling to entertain.
In discussing this article, we also acknowledge that fear of failure is an incredibly powerful motivator on its own, and is all some business owners need to push and innovate and excel, but it’s important to understand that this mindset, and depending upon this as a sole primary motivating factor is not without serious consequences. There is such a thing as “healthy” fear, but taken too far it can easily become negative and consuming.
Great article, check it out: https://hbr.org/2018/04/how-fear-helps-and-hurts-entrepreneurs
Creating Legal Tech For Law Firms
Our guest on this episode is Dan Lear is a lawyer and legal industry gadfly and the Chief Instigator of Right Brain Law. As a practicing attorney he’s advises technology companies from startups to the Fortune 100. Since his transition from tech lawyer to legal technologist Dan’s been mentioned, featured, or published widely in the legal industry press and spoken at SXSW, Ignite Seattle, Georgetown University, Stanford University, ReInvent Law, and the National Conference of Bar Presidents. Most recently, Dan was the Director of Industry Relations for Avvo. And now, it all goes uphill with his appearance on the LAWsome podcast!
GUEST INFO – http://rightbrainlaw.co/
Legal Tech Innovation Roadblocks and the New Legal Consumer Realities
In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Dan about how it seems that technology in some ways is outpacing the legal industry, the barriers that lawyers can encounter when it comes to entrepreneurial mindsets and what “Right Brain Law” means:
Interviewer: …I didn’t mean to get sidetracked with the restrictions and the barriers and stuff, butt… you know, we’ve had people come on, and they’re talking about chatbots. They’re talking about using Alexa to record their hours, their billable hours and stuff like that. So just conversations like that, would that have happened a year ago, two years ago? I mean, do you see that there’s more willingness to look at how technology can maybe help and enhance how people practice law? Or is it still just like, “Well, you know, I can’t do a chatbot because the Bar is just gonna shoot that down?”
Dan: That’s a super interesting question. Here’s is what I think the fundamental challenge to all of that stuff is, which is lawyers are, I think by self-selection and then by training, risk averse and generally really hesitant to try new things. They’re late adopters. You know, a lot of people say things like that, and they’re sort of saying “And that’s what’s wrong with the legal profession. That’s why we don’t have technological adoption, yadda, yadda, yadda.” The analogies between doctors and lawyers are not perfect, but, like, the last thing you want to hear your heart surgeon say as he or she is putting you under is like, “Well, I’ve never done this before, but I like our chances of things working out.” Right? Like…
Interviewer: Get that entrepreneurial spirit as you go into my aorta.
Dan: Yeah. “We’ll muddle through.” Right, exactly. Like, but if we figure it out and it will be awesome… Right? And so there are lots of good reasons why lawyers should understand… Like, I mean, our whole legal system is built on this notion of precedent and how you can know that a court is going to look at a given situation, is going to interpret a given piece of legislation or a law in a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always done it. And that’s really good. And there are really good reasons why our legal system is built that way.
It’s funny, I was talking to a friend of mine who’s a partner at a relatively large law firm here in Seattle. And he said, “You know, big law partners are the risk-averse of the risk-averse of the risk-averse.” You know, first you went to law school, which is already,…at least until the last decade with the Great Recession, a pretty sort of risk-averse way to build a career. And then you go to big law, which is also a pretty safe place to go in legal. And then you stay in big law and become a big law partner. Like, they’re just a risk-averse population to begin with. And then you layer on this level of sort of backward-looking precedent-facing disciplines and, of course, it makes sense that they’re hesitant to try new things.
I think that there are a couple of challenges that are really facing the legal system right now. I think the first is that technology has just completely blown the doors off of the way we think about information. We now have consumers. And we, I think, as lawyers, sometimes forget that we’re consumers, too. But we have access to so much information now that… Even in the best case, there’s so much information that people can get access to that they can make…whether right or wrong, they can make decisions about how they want to engage with the legal system in ways that we never would have imagined, you know, 10, 20, 30 years ago. We don’t really have a choice but to try to understand this landscape better.
Second, there really are now all of these tools out there that can help us not only have lawyers have a better quality of life, but also serve people more effectively. And so we need to continue to be cautious and thoughtful in the right areas, but I think we also need to be open-minded and entrepreneurial and innovative in other areas, like marketing for example, so that we can take advantage of all of these new tools. Because the risk here is that because now consumers have so much access to technology, and information is increasing, and there’s all of the, you know…there’s this whole new entrepreneurial spirit about people out there, really smart people just looking for problems to solve. And at some point they will be able to solve problems that lawyers previously solved or that lawyers were required to solve or that lawyers were really good at stepping in and solving because no one was there.
They’re going to step in and solve those problems, and lawyers will be cut out of the mix. And you add to that, on top of all of that, there’s this huge gap in access, which I think, frankly, damages lawyers’ credibility in this whole equation, right? Like, if it’s our job to help people access the legal system and we’re constantly just sort of saying, like, “We can’t afford it,” or, “We don’t know how to solve that problem,” …then people will increasingly just turn away and find other ways to solve those problems.
So I totally understand that’s a super long way of saying there are very good reasons why we don’t see lawyers adopting technology. But on the other hand, there’s such opportunity, and really, I think kind of an existential threat to our credibility as lawyers that if we don’t start to figure some of that stuff out, we’re going to miss out on huge opportunity and potentially sort of damage our long-term prospects.
Interviewer: When you’re talking about the way lawyers think, is that where you got the idea of Right Brain Law? The name for that, just real, just a quick aside, what does that mean?
Dan: Totally. It was inspired by a book written by a guy by the name of Dan Pink, who’s written a bunch of other business books. And he interestingly is a lawyer by training. He went to law school, but then never practiced law. And he wrote a book, actually, now more than 10 years ago, called “A Whole New Mind.” And in it he said sort of the professionals of the future that will succeed, or even just the workers of the future that will succeed are those who can integrate left brain and right brain thinking. He said sort of the 20th century was the century of the analytical mind, the process-driven, sort of calculating, analytical mind. And he said the problem is now so much of that can either be outsourced or done by a computer.
And so the question is, how can you take those skills and build on top of them, right brain skills? And he gives all these examples like design and laughter. He has all these really interesting ideas that sort of need to overlay these left brain skills. And so he wrote this whole book, and he gives tons of examples in medicine, tons of all of these other examples. He, himself, being a law grad, he gave so few examples in law. And I was just really inspired by the book, and I was like, “Hey, I want to bring sort of this thinking and this kind of approach to legal.” And so that’s where the name came from.
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