‘I am you. I am your colleagues. I am what your customers have always dreamed of. I am the bionic lawyer … ‘
And so began an open letter from the Bionic Lawyer Project to the legal industry. This letter, published on September 24th, marked the end of the beginning of our project, when a year of intense collaboration paved the way for 16 “levers” to be released. We believe that these 16 levers will set the guiding principles for the legal industry of the future.
But we are ahead of ourselves. What is the Bionic Lawyer Project?
In short, the project has brought together over 500 (wonderful) #bioniclawyer employees from across the legal industry and far beyond for a specific purpose. The aim is to exploit the potential of the legal industry. identify what we need to do and what changes we need to make to ensure we have a thriving legal ecosystem.
This is not an initiative to address the symptoms of a dysfunction that we see on a daily basis. Instead, the project took a systemic, fundamental approach to its work. There were no limits and our content was inspired by hands-on experience, leading business theories, neuroscience, behavioral economics, and even the laws of thermodynamics.
The Bionic Lawyer Project does not belong to anyone and is absolutely committed to openly coding everything we produce.
It is now worth noting that our definition of “lawyer” is broad. If you contribute to solving problems in the legal ecosystem, we see you as a lawyer. This broad definition is not used as provocative, but rather as a statement of inclusiveness and approach. It is used to avoid labels and to try to remove a perceived stigma on individuals referred to as “non-lawyers” even when they are essential to the provision of legal services and may even own legal transactions.
Now back to those levers. 16 levers were set up in phase 1 of the project. We call them levers because any institution (legal department, law firm, law firm, law school, etc.) can pull them – and if you pull them successfully, you get a positive effect.
The levers are presented as a series of instructions. These statements describe the perfect ecosystem in which the Bionic Lawyer operates – and combine factors that focus on people (first), process (second) and technology (third). No single lever can be easily released. Each highlights an area where progressive institutions are pushing the boundaries and so everyone can move forward.
The positive effect of an institution that pulls all 16 levers is staggering. We do not claim to have the mind or the imagination to accurately describe the prospective attorney; in fact, it would be terribly boring if we could. What we can see, however, is that the levers offer tremendous potential to create value for our customers and to engage and empower the current and future generations of professionals. It will make them bionic.
Since the open letter was published, we have been publishing the individual levers – one a week. And if you’re interested in the details, just search for the ‘bionic lawyer’ on LinkedIn. We can’t do justice to the levers here, but we encourage you to grapple with them, challenge them, and help us keep making them more effective.
The levers focus on topics such as purpose, work through privilege and bias, as well as predictive analytics, digital infrastructure, ESG and knowledge. We believe they provide a near-complete picture, but we’d be happy if we turned out to be wrong …
What happens next?
If everything goes according to plan, we will find all the levers that were released in early 2021 – just in time to get better after the terrible disruption from Covid-19. At this point, phase 2 of the project begins, in which we put the science in the levers into action and find the weaknesses and problems that need to be resolved as a priority. #Bioniclawyer staff will continue to use their sophisticated collaboration skills to create a wiki resource, practical toolkits, solutions and changes for the industry – with the levers as the driving force.
Likewise, anyone who wants to use the levers should feel free as they are openly coded.
How can you get involved?
We recommend checking out the levers yourself on LinkedIn first. If they pack you (for whatever reason) please feel free to contact us directly and we will welcome you to the project. The project is completely accessible, there are no obstacles or hurdles. Our only requirement is that you bring your (ideally positive) energy and unique perspective into the problems we need to solve.
If you don’t want to get involved – don’t worry – we’ll help you anyway.
Co-founder of the Bionic Lawyer Project
Rob Booth (General Counsel & Company Secretary at The Crown Estate); Stéphanie Hamon (Head of Legal Services at Norton Rose Fulbright); Stephen Allen (Vice President, Get Sh * t Done at Elevate).