I Googled “definition of expert” and got this: “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.”
- We will still see legal experts in the future, but not as we currently know them.
As we saw earlier in this series, the legal experts of the future will be systems thinkers who can fashion comprehensive, multidisciplinary, mass-appeal, consumer-oriented IT products with legal solutions embedded within them. And, as we saw last time, Law by Algorithm will increasingly provide the “think like a lawyer” artificial intelligence needed to create those products.
On the other hand, in his book Tomorrow’s Lawyers, law futurist Richard Susskind anticipates the ongoing need for lawyers (using human brains, not artificial intelligence) who can fashion legal solutions beyond the “think like a lawyer” work product.
- Those lawyers will emerge as a new class of legal masters.
“Society seems to favor mass production from its citizens. We dress alike, behave similarly, and speak with a common vernacular. Thanks to the gifts of the digital age, anyone today can become an ‘expert.’”
In this blog interview with author Daniel Pink — bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind — Coleman and Pink agree that what’s really needed is not expertise but mastery, and share some thoughts about how you get it. Further, check out this blog post on that topic from The Lean Thinker, which ends this way:
“Put another way, the ‘expert’ knows. The ‘master’ knows that there is much to learn.”
Here are this week’s predictions about the new law masters:
- The legal masters of the future will be valued not as repositories of knowledge, but for their inquiring minds, and especially for the ability to ask important, relevant questions whose answers aren’t already embedded in commoditized legal products.
- The new legal masters’ key proficiency will lie not in knowing the law (the job of experts), but in knowing how to develop it.
- The new legal masters will shape the law using innovative new methods not currently part of the law landscape. (What these might be is anybody’s guess.)
- And the law itself will reward them for this expertise, by continuing to provide plenty of gray areas and unanswered questions, commoditization notwithstanding.
In his book The End of Lawyers?, Richard Susskind notes that disruptive innovation is disruptive to lawyers, not clients. This comment suggests another role for the new legal masters:
- They will profoundly and skillfully shape the assimilation of disruptive innovation into the law and law practice.
- For example, they will have the sage ability to understand and guide the law and law practice when the law goes multimedia, as it inevitably will (another topic Richard Susskind takes up in The End of Lawyers?).
As for the latter, just try to imagine what the law will be like when it is detached from its Gutenberg printing press moorings in language and logic.
I can’t either.
Which is precisely why we’ll need the new legal masters to help us out.