From Bleak to Geek was a mixture of expert panels, lightning talks, and unlimited networking. Academics, legal practitioners, programmers, everyone present seemed to have one thing in common: they were, wanted to become, or admired, legal hackers.
New York Legal Hackers Meet-Up Group has defined “legal hacking” as a “global movement of lawyers, policymakers, technologists, and academics who explore and develop creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology.” Sounds good.
Hacking is taking place in industries across the board. Technology-based innovations are providing individuals, professionals, and businesses with new tools to do old jobs. There is a visible shift from improving the traditional methods to an uprooting and gutting of systems. The new approaches are intended to provide lower-cost, efficiency based solutions to ongoing challenges. The “Bleak” might well ask, “Will it work?” The “Geek” might explain that it’s working all around us. Just look at the examples!
Bleak or Geek someone will have to pay for the changes. Will legal financing play a role in the shift? An afternoon panel titled Approaches to Funding Legal Processes: Alternative Litigation Financing Firms and Patent Defense provided a unique lens for examining the litigation funding industry.
Mr. Coffey discussed corporate plaintiffs’ use of the funding for capital investments, such as building factories. Alternatively, plaintiffs may use the funds to pursue claims that would not have otherwise been brought. Some prove far more profitable than the original funded claim.
There was a consensus among the entrepreneurial lawyers that change is all around us and much more is to come. What that change will look like in 5 years, or 50, is anyone’s guess. Surely, few would have predicted 5 years ago that tuition at established Law Schools would be declining in 2015. Perhaps that’s what the Law School found “bleak” in it’s perspective. However, this news was far less disturbing to the “geeks” of the future who receive the discount. Could it be that the Law School is putting it’s money where it’s mouth is, so to speak. Leading by example. Disrupting the old ways, and showing how sometimes less is more.