Why Frontier of the Law?

Since the launch of Frontier of the Law, many who have visited the website have asked, “How did Frontier of the Law come about?” and “Why did you create this website?”


As I explained in a “reply” to a recent LinkedIn post, all of the material you see on the website comes from my experiences as a business and legal professional in corporations and law firms over the last 20+ years combined with lessons learned as a young girl in Detroit watching the decline of the U.S. automotive industry starting in 1979 and continuing well into the 1980’s.

The U.S. automotive companies learned the hard way about the importance of innovation as a practice – as the life blood of corporate cultures. As the granddaughter of a card-carrying, proud UAW member who worked as a millwright at the now-shuttered Ford River Rouge Plant, I had a front-and-center seat to the failure of U.S. automotive companies to foresee how to compete successfully with the then-pioneering “lean manufacturing processes” of certain foreign automotive companies.

All of us in my Detroit neighborhood - all of us in the City of Detroit - could see what was coming; the U.S. automotive companies could not, or did not want to, see. Detroit absorbed the fall-out of the failure to innovate, and the ultimate nadir arrived when our great city filed for Bankruptcy on July 18, 2013. In all fairness, the troubled trajectories of the U.S. automotive companies were not the only circumstances that depressed the economy of Detroit; there were many contributing factors, but the companies’ failure to innovate was principal among them.

Lawyers:  Trained Problem-Solvers to Innovators

I want the legal industry to avoid learning about innovation the hard way. We as legal professionals - trained problem-solvers - have so much to contribute. Lawyers are, without question, 200% innovative when it comes to crafting novel transaction structures, creative litigation strategies, inventive ways to securitize loans or clever ways to secure personal jurisdiction over an individual or entity, among many other issues. Yet, for some reason those same innovation skills do not always translate into gaining efficiencies in how lawyers interact with, and deliver services to, clients.

Ask yourself: What is or are the reason(s) that the innovation and creativity skills of lawyers do not always translate into gaining efficiencies in how lawyers interact with, and deliver services to, clients?

Could it be the billable hour? Could it be …?

Lawyers are so well-positioned to be thoughtful and pioneering, particularly when we collaborate with professionals from other disciplines, with professionals within our industry and with law school students who will shape the future of the profession in the years to come. Lawyers, clients and law school students all have a great deal at stake as we work to build the next generation of the legal profession and to “curate” the experiences lawyers and clients have now and in the future.

Building a Bridge to the Legal Tech Community

All of us, then, have more reasons than ever to construct a bridge to the legal tech community. There is a vibrant legal tech community throughout the world led by lawyers and non-lawyers alike. The legal tech community “waxes” automation, deal work flow models, algorithms driven by natural language processing, among many other developments as highlighted by links on the “Innovation and the Law” page.

Legal tech professionals or “evangelists” are looking for opportunities to collaborate with law firms and corporate law departments as “innovation partners” to help revolutionize the practice of law. Ongoing collaboration will undoubtedly pave new ways of practicing law that no one could have anticipated but that will make lawyers and clients alike better-off in the long run. Have you found your “innovation partner,” yet?

Online Platforms as a Means to Build Bridges and Create Value

What also inspired me to launch Frontier of the Law, and continues to inspire me, is the collaboration that is now possible through online platforms. There are many online platforms (like AirBnB, Facebook, LinkedIn, UpWork, TopCoder, YouTube, etc.) that facilitate substantive networking and relationship-building among individuals across the globe and across demographic characteristics.

These online platforms have only begun to show us how we can unleash and harness the power of working together. And as existing platforms evolve and new platforms emerge, we should expect our abilities to be enhanced even more, i.e., our abilities to engage with each other; to share information and experiences among different disciplines and with subject matter experts in remote locations; to identify synergies among us; and to create value for ourselves, the corporations we build and for the online and physical communities around us.

In their book, Platform Revolution, Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne and Sangeet Choudary lay-out insightfully how platform models have changed our global society and our economy. The authors describe how platform models will continue to revolutionize: how our society and economy function; how we create and provide value with and for each other; and other socioeconomic aspects of how we live and interact with another.

Think about how FaceBook, LinkedIn and YouTube have changed our day-to-day lives and how we interact with others to share personal stories, to search for a new employment opportunity or to learn a new skill.

Thank you to three sources of inspiration, Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne and Sangeet Choudary, for sharing their insights about how our global society and economy are evolving and how our roles within the economy and society will evolve as well.

Platform-Based Collaboration:  Nurturing Your Networks

Through platform-based collaboration, I have come to recognize that, WE, TOGETHER AS CONNECTED, NETWORKED COMMUNITIES - communities of professionals and clients across the globe - have the “right stuff” to bring ANY IDEA OR CONCEPT TO FRUITION. So, I nurture my networks by sharing ideas and concepts that others could possibly leverage. I endeavor to ground my interactions with others by the following queries:

  • How can the work product I create serve as a foundation for the creation (and creativity) of others?
  • Are there others who hold insights into the issues I am working to address, and how can we work together to yield solutions that are of value to all of us?

By cultivating and by helping my networks thrive, I help maintain my networks as a robust source of “collective wisdom.” And, I have faith that I will be able to reach out to that “collective wisdom” when I assistance with the initiatives that I undertake. I recognize that what I am able to achieve is enhanced exponentially when I team up with others who have skills that are complementary to my own.

The framework for building a network to facilitate collaboration and value creation arose, in part, from a book that has changed my thinking about what is possible in this world. That book is Give and Take by Adam Grant.

Grant’s book is a MUST-READ for anyone who wants to be part of a broader community or platform that, together, is premised upon building symbiotic, genuine relationships and connections organically in order to create – anything and everything.

I would also recommend following Grant or signing up for his newsletter, “Granted,” because periodically, he shares fantastically insightful “pearls of wisdom” that always seem timely. Grant’s “pearls of wisdom” encapsulate learnings that are important to how we approach what we do every day in our personal and professional lives, i.e., how we “practice” living, working and thriving as humans.

Thank you to another source of inspiration, Adam Grant.

What helpful insights, tips, or strategies might you be willing to share that would help other professionals think through how to incite innovation and efficiency gains into the practice of law?

Frontier of the Law has been designed to build upon pioneering initiatives within the legal profession, groundbreaking developments within the legal tech community, learnings from successful platform models in other industries and collaborations among networks of professionals who are committed to practicing innovation for the betterment of clients (for-profit and non-profit) throughout our world communities.

Together, as lawyers, clients and innovators, we can help each other attain goals and objectives not initially envisioned. The accomplishments and insightful thoughts of others offer pieces of the puzzles that we are working to solve in our own professional and personal lives. We can build the solutions that are of value to ourselves and to others by being open to what others bring to the table and exchanging ideas. Our professional and personal worlds, or networks, can be viewed as a lattice of linked or nested platforms primed for synergistic and symbiotic collaboration.

#LegalTech  -  #MITPlatforms  -  #PracticeInnovation  -  #FrontierOfTheLaw  -  #GiveandTake

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