Always a trendsetter, IKEA can now claim the moniker of “first mover” quite literally. according to NextBigFuture.com, IKEA has designed seven autonomous workspaces on wheels to explore how self-driving vehicles might “operate as extensions of our cafes, homes, and offices,” and make retail products and services more readily accessible to consumers. For lawyers, a self-driving office could make both commuting time and waiting time between court hearings more productive by allowing lawyers to get work done instead of just sitting around. Likewise, mobile law offices would prove a godsend for clients – particularly those in rural areas . IKEA has also made available this neat app where readers can experience a mobile vehicle in augmented reality.
IKEA admits that we’re unlikely to have autonomous vehicles on the road until at least 2022, and more realistically 2030. But rather than wait for future events to descend upon it, IKEA is forging its own future, staking out opportunities that may not come to pass for a decade or more. By contrast, even lawyers who claim to have an eye on the future play it safe and conservative, investing time and money in systems that make it easier to operate in today’s legal system and under today’s ethics rules instead of charting a course beyond. Lawyers starting out today ought to be thinking not just about how to set up a virtual law firm and use a client portal, but how blockchain will impact the trusts and contracts they draft for clients, or how changes in rules on outside ownership will impact their practices. As a practicing lawyer myself, I know that it’s difficult to dream about what may happen ten years down the road when you have a deadline ten days in front of you. But unless lawyers take some time – maybe just on a quarterly basis – to keep watch on future trends, they’ll find themselves without a seat when that autonomous bus leaves the station.
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