“It’s what you know that should exhilarate you. But it’s what you don’t know that should absolutely terrify you!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Three years ago today, I found myself in New York City on a fabulous stage opening the global partners meeting for the legal firm Eversheds Sutherland – one of the largest global law firms in the world. I seemed to do a lot of such events – at one time or another, many leading global firms have had me in, including Baker McKenzie, the largest by headcount and revenue.
The genesis for many of these events can be traced back to a little trends piece I wrote way back in 2005, “10 Big Trends for the Legal Profession,” which I turned into a wonderful little PDF two years later.
Much of what I wrote about for that list came about as a result of the work I did as an expert witness in a federal court case in 2003-04: I was on the stand to testify with respect to the evidentiary value of the Internet in the courtroom, among other issues. I can get on stage in front of 7,500 people in Las Vegas, but I’d never take on this experience ever again!
The theme in many of these talks to the legal profession – and beyond, to insurance firms, risk management companies, actuaries, and professional service firms – has been the acceleration of unknown risk. To that point, in New York City, I put this into perspective in rather stark terms, by pointing out the arrival of all kinds of new legal issues that simply did not exist in years previous:
Now imagine a world, post-Covid, that is even faster. What risks are on the horizon? What challenges will they present? What fascinating new legal trends and opportunities will result? That’s the reality for the profession and the industry going forward.
It’s always important to get an audience thinking about the big issues they need to be thinking about well before I get to the stage. With that in mind, Eversheds arranged for me to film a pre-event teaser video: it’s a work of sober first thought! (LOL!)
What are the biggest issues with unknown risk? There are an extensive number of posts throughout my site, but here’s a good extract.
The challenge? Our new world of hypercharge, driven by technology, the Internet of Things, accelerating science, and other issues is leading us quickly into a new world of unforeseen legal challenges. Somehow, we need to minimize our risk from legal issues which we do not yet know exist. That’s a pretty tall order.
How do you mitigate against risk when you don’t know what that risk might be? How do you guard against legal issues that don’t even yet exist? How do you guard intellectual property for products you don’t even yet know you will invent? That’s the challenging reality of our new world of risk today.
Want some fun? At one of these events, I put up a list of 40 new areas of legal risk management that did not exist 10 years ago. Protecting shared 3D printing models of your new products that could be easily counterfeited. Drone technology and surveillance law. Genetic counseling laws, LGBTQ issues, fantasy sports league management, organic certification, and laws involving cannabis use in the workplace and place of business.
That’s a shortlist. There’s lots more!