Recently I had the pleasure to speak with Dennis Kennedy, the former Vice President and Senior Counsel at MasterCard, where he focused on information technology law. He is a well-known lawyer, author, blogger, speaker and podcaster who is considered among the most influential authority on the application of technology in the practice of law. He is widely-praised for his ability to communicate complex technological and legal issues into language that non-experts can easily understand.
So it was a great pleasure to hear from him personally, what he thinks lawyers should do to stay cutting edge. His advice was rather straightforward:
Learn what is coming in the future
Dennis Kennedy is well known for both his technology law expertise and his experience in computer and Internet technologies.
However, that does not mean that he knows how to code or can link APIs of different software solutions together. He does however take the effort to understand what APIs are about and reads about new and upcoming technologies. So he understands the possibilities and challenges, can interact with technical experts, and give his take from a legal perspective.
A nice example is the disappearance of the paper interface. Even screen interfaces may no longer be there, with the rising of Echo, Alexa and other voice driven systems.
For any lawyer, it would be worthwhile to understand what is driving this trend. What are the main technological drivers and current challenges? In addition, where else do the experts think these technologies will be used?
Then, put on your attorney hat. What are the legal implications of such a novel technology? How for instance can you still obtain consent to terms and conditions, when the interface between the offering and the buyer is voice only?
If you are able to learn what is coming in the future and think ahead like this, you are invaluable for your employer and your future clients.
Before our meeting, Dennis Kennedy shared with me one of his recent talks. Since he is a master explainer, listen to him in his own words explain what you can do to learn what is coming in the future.
Characteristics of an Agile Attorney
While it may be easy to say, “learn what is coming in the future”. What does that entail for your work as a lawyer?
In his talk, Dennis summarizes it as follow:
So, you don’t have to be perfect, just be ahead of the pack. You don’t have to know it all or play devil’s advocate all the time. Instead, help find workable solutions.
Now, go out there and learn about what is coming in the future, so you can use it to change the world for your clients, organization, and profession!