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Jobs Uninvented

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Much of the work that I do as a lawyer today involves issues that weren’t even around ten years ago. So I was excited to see this recent post from Jordan Furlong on some of the roles that lawyers might play as the more traditional legal positions shrink:  It’s an interesting list:

  • “Amazon.Law” Provider: Sharp, focused, legally trained mind sifting through and analyzing clients’ vast storehouses of data to anticipate legal needs they don’t even realize they have.
  • Civics Trainer: Roving instructor retained to inculcate the rule of law, rights and responsibilities, and other fundamental legal principles to students, employees and citizens.
  • Competitive Analyst: Provider of sophisticated business intelligence operations, infused with deep knowledge of laws and regulations and employing rigorous organizational analytics.
  • Freelance Fact-Checker: Trusted independent authority retained by governments, media and organizations to reliably separate fact from fiction in a truth-challenged society.
  • Judicial Subcontractor: Dispute resolution expert deputized by judges to go out and “bring courts to the community,” increasing access to justice and clearing court backlogs.
  • Mobile Arbiter: Conflict resolution facilitator called in to troubleshoot everyday disputes at homes or in the workplace before they become full-blown fights: “preventive ADR” on a moment’s notice.
  • Social Connector: Using deep networks that range across business, government and private individuals, connecting people, organizations, ideas and initiatives that will complement each other, solve problems, and create opportunities.

While these models are interesting, my initial reaction to some of them is “show me the money.” Who’s going to pay for the civics trainer or the mobile arbiter (an idea that I love, by the way, very much in line with lawyering on the front)? Today’s courts can barely bring themselves to adopt e-filing or video conferencing for short conferences – are they really going to be able to send out subcontractors to the community.  Convenience and justice are, at times, almost oxymorons.  

Other positions – like competitive analyst or data analytics is already taking place in many industries, but sans lawyers.  In fact, I’ve been brought in on these types of projects – but I don’t particularly like them because I feel as if the work can be done by non-lawyers so it’s not a great use of my skills.

Still, even though I’m being a bit of a negative Nellie, Jordan’s series is worth reading.  Even if these suggestions don’t work as stand-alone, they could be services that lawyers can add to their existing repertoire to expand business opportunities, diversify revenue streams and plan for the future.  You know that I don’t recommend other bloggers’ posts often these days but Jordan’s series deserves a long, hard read, as does Bruce Macewen’s now 12-part Growth is Dead series.


  • shg

    I too found Jordan’s series interesting. While I agree with a few of his ideas as they pertain to problems the legal profession is facing, though some (like commoditization to the extent he argues it) reflect a lack of understanding of what lawyers do, I find his “solutions” to be remarkably less persuasive and unable to bear up to even minor scrutiny.

    Granted, I’m not inclined to latch onto the newest trends, but so much of what Jordan appears to embrace is deeply flawed or requires huge assumptive leaps that he conceals in his mash of incomprehensible jargon. 

    What saddens me most about this is that I’ve always thought Jordan was one of the smarter guys, and could have been an incredibly useful voice if he explains ideas logically and clearly. Instead, I’m left with the impression that he’s just trying to market himself and his wares, and will write whatever jibberish he thinks will sell.

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