Posted by: Ray Brescia | August 23, 2016

New Article: Law and Social Innovation

Can law schools teach creativity?  Is improving lawyers’ ability to engage in creative problem solving a useful strategy for improving lawyer effectiveness?  Can the legal profession, and the law schools that educate its members, engage with the threats they face from those outlets that are offering technology-enhanced, commoditized legal services and/or outsourced services?  These are just some of the questions I attempt to address in a new article I am publishing with the Albany Law Review, “Law and Social Innovation,” which is now available for download here.  In it, I explore these and other questions, using Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future as a starting point and foil for the discussion.  Here is a representative passage:

A legal education in the 21st century should not just prepare law students to practice law in the present environment, it must prepare them to work with technology in creative ways that helps those students practice in the rapidly changing market for legal services.  This will require them to embrace technology as a means of delivering legal services in a competent and efficient way, compete with non-traditional providers, and distinguish themselves from non-traditional providers by offering a superior product that satisfies clients’ instrumental as well as non-material needs.

Check it out if you get a moment.  Thoughts/reactions welcome.

Posted by: Ray Brescia | August 15, 2016

Vote for Access to Justice

I am honored to be on a proposed panel for the 2017 South By Southwest (SXSW in the vernacular) conference in which my fellow panelists and I will discuss new models for delivering affordable access to justice, but it needs your vote to become a reality.  Although it takes a few steps, including registering to vote (which is free), please consider voting for this proposed panel discussion to be selected for the 2017 conference.  Follow the links here to register, go to the “search/vote” tab, and then search and vote for the Affordable & Accessible Lawyers, Really? panel.  Thanks!

Today’s article in the New York Times tracks the recent trend of large, multi-national corporations returning to cities as the location of their corporate headquarters.  Companies like McDonald’s and General Electric, to name just two, are relocating to cities.  We’ve known for some time that new economy companies like Zappos have invested in cities as a way to attract talent that would prefer the urban lifestyle.  Even Detroit is having a renaissance of startup companies lured by the low rents and the dynamism of an urban setting.  These developments mean a great deal for urban and regional economic development, but they can also threaten to accelerate gentrification and increase economic inequality.

In our book How Cities Will Save the World: Urban Innovation in the Face of Population Flows, Climate Change, and Economic Inequality, my co-editor, John Travis Marshall, and I, together with our authors from various disciplines, explore some of these issues and help chart out a course for urban innovation to grapple with the changes that are afoot for our urban centers, where seventy percent of the world’s population will live by 2050.

Check out How Cities Will Save the World here.

Please check out my recent piece in Bloomberg news on the disruption happening in the legal industry, a topic I explore in greater depth here and here.

Posted by: Ray Brescia | July 18, 2016

New Collection of Essays on Access to Justice

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity contribute to a new collection of essays on access to justice compiled by the Impact Center for Public Interest Law and the Racial Justice Project, both at New York Law School.  My article looks at the changes afoot in the legal profession, brought on by technology, automation and other disruptions.  While these changes hold out the promise of improving access to justice, as I have discussed here, my contribution to this collection attempts to expose what some of the potential downsides of these disruptions might be.

You can access my contribution to this collection via SSRN here.

Other contributors to the collection include former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the Hon. Jonathan Lippman; Paris Baldacci; Amy Barasch (who also happens to be my spouse — this was truly a family affair!); Susanna Blankley; Catherine Carr; Brett Dignam; Joanne Doroshow; Lisa Grumet; Randal Jeffrey; Fidèle Menavanza; Andrew Scherer; Karen Simmons; Claire Thomas & Lenni Benson; David Udell; and Joan Vermeulen.

You can download the entire publication here.

It was truly an honor to be a part of this effort.

Posted by: Ray Brescia | May 24, 2016

How Cities Will Save the World Interview on WFAN

Please check out my interview on Bob Salter’s public affairs show on New York’s WFAN radio in which I discuss the new book How Cities Will Save the World: Urban Innovation in the Face of Population Flows, Climate Change, and Economic Inequality.  You can download and read the Introduction to the book for free here.

The Pew Research Center has a new report out on public perceptions of the sharing economy.  There are a number of very interesting findings in the study, including that usage of the sharing economy platforms is very spiky: younger, urban customers are more likely to access platforms like Uber, AirBnB, and Etsy, than older, more rural customers. In addition, it would appear that there is at least some public support for the notion that oversight of sharing economy platforms should be less restrictive than the ways in which more traditional providers in the same economic sectors are regulated.  The American public may seem to want to ensure sharing economy products and services remain less expensive and more convenient than the non-sharing economy alternatives.  Read the report here.  For my own take on the role of regulation in the sharing economy, where I look at ways to ensure the sharing economy can strike the right balance between consumer protection, convenience, and affordability, check out my piece on the subject here.

I am pleased to share the Introduction to How Cities Will Save the World: Urban Innovation in the Face of Population Flows, Climate Change, and Economic Inequality, co-edited with John Travis Marshall.    This book features a series of essays from leading thinkers on the central role that cities will play in addressing some of the most serious threats facing the planet today.

Read the Intro here.

Posted by: Ray Brescia | May 2, 2016

Four Questions for Legal Tech

french cavalry

What does the French Cavalry have to do with technology and lawyering in the 21st century?  Read my latest here.

National Public Radio recently issued a directive that its on-air staff should pull back on promoting podcasts.  NPR podcasts.  The risk that NPR is losing its live listeners to its own on-demand offerings must raise fears that it will, in turn, also face the loss of its traditional donor base.  Digital technologies and the on-demand economy threaten even the delivery of news and information and they are impacting the delivery of other types of information-based services, like legal services.  As in the delivery of the news, technology is making legal services cheaper to provide and easier to access.

But no one can really question whether listening to a podcast at one’s leisure is any different from listening to a live radio broadcast.  The only difference is the convenience: i.e., no one has to orchestrate one’s schedule and listening habits to hear that favorite program when it is offered live.  We are no longer a nation that gathers around the radio or the television at the same time every day of the week to hear the news, The Lone Ranger, or the Ed Sullivan show.  This means one can both hear one’s favorite programming and likely explore new offerings, making life a little richer.  For example, I am a long-time fan of WNYC’s Brian Lehrer but couldn’t tell you (a) the last time I listened to his late morning show live because it falls during prime work hours, or (b) whether I EVER have done so.  Similarly, there are other programs that I only access as podcasts and only ever have, like Slate’s amazing lineup, including the Culture Gabfest and the Political Gabfest, or Dan Carlin’s mind blowing Hardcore History (which I learned about from the Political Gabfest!).

But can a “digital, on-demand” lawyer substitute for the “real thing”?  The shift to a digital, on-demand world like we are seeing in other contexts (ride sharing, home sharing) clearly poses a threat to traditional providers of information, like news outlets and lawyers.  NPR is trying to figure out how to navigate that change.  The legal profession is in the midst of this change as well and will have to consider ways to adapt to it while ensuring the provision of high quality and meaningful access to justice.

I explore some of these issues in depth in my recent piece: Uber for Lawyers.

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