It has been a minute since the FPI has convened a large-scale, in-person conversation. In fact, it’s been almost 30 months. That’s about to change: on November 3rd and 4th we will hold our Law 2030 Conference, and we are very excited about the ideas that will come of it.
I am new to the FPI in an official way—I formally joined as Strategic Advisor this fall (unofficially, I have long been a fan). I am grateful for this new role with the FPI, especially right now, in this liminal moment in our profession.
As the Chief Justice of Michigan’s court system, I spend a lot of my time looking for new solutions to old problems, many of which have only become more acute as a result of a pandemic. Excellent lawyers and judges and other justice system stakeholders are my collaborators. The work feels a bit two steps forward, one step back most of the time: the justice system’s greatest problems are wicked ones. Many stakeholders contributed to them, often in good faith, and no single stakeholder can fix them.
FPI’s unique approach to learning from disciplines outside of law to imagine a better profession is what lured me. Not only because the professionals who I see working to improve the justice system they administer deserve that, but also (and even more fundamentally) the public who need help with justice problems in some of their most difficult moments deserve it.
In FPI’s first conference almost three years ago the participants learned from leaders in the healthcare industry about how change management happened in their field. Outside pressure together with innovation transformed healthcare in four decades. There are lessons in that transformation for justice delivery.
In this conference, we will welcome our colleagues from the field of Design to collaborate about how Design Thinking and other human-centric approaches to our profession can support healthier, more inclusive legal workplaces and more accessible legal services.
I am very excited to hear our keynote address from Upsolve Co-Founder and CEO Rohan Pavuluri. Upsolve’s story of democratizing debt collection processes is a shining example of what we might accomplish for so many badly-needed solutions to legal problems. I can’t wait to hear Rohan tell it. And I will deliver a keynote address on the second day of the conference; I hope to convince the audience that we are in a unique moment for change management in our profession.
The conference will feature a Master Class in Design featuring colleagues at Penn’s Weitzman School of Design, Penn School of Nursing, Penn Carey Law School, and Penn Medicine. The class will be interactive–all conference attendees will learn design thinking by doing it. The design challenge will focus on how leaders in the profession can empathize with lawyers who seek healthier and more inclusive practice environments to create a new post-pandemic model for work. By using a concrete problem set, we hope to learn about the benefits of design thinking for innovating. And our first day will conclude with a call to action from Paul Weiss Chairperson Brad Karp.
The panel discussions will be ambitious and timely conversations about the people in our profession. Our own Associate Dean John Hollway C’92 MAPP’18 will lead a discussion about moving the profession to value inclusiveness, health and well-being to retain talent and diversity. And Gina Passarella, Editor-in-Chief of American Legal Media Global Brands will moderate a discussion about the complexity for private sector legal organizations that use corporate resources to respond to social movements.
In keeping with one of our foundational commitments, we will feature a cross-sector conversation about how legal academics, public interest leaders, and corporate legal professionals can collaborate to “reboot justice” and find innovative paths, partnerships and tools to better serve our communities. And Law School Admission Council (“LSAC”) President Kellye Testy will lead a discussion about what lawyers can learn from Wharton experts in customer centricity to improve service.
And we will get into the weeds a bit too. Penn Carey Law William Maul Measey Professor Tom Baker will convene a discussion about the growing role of litigation finance in advancing claims. This conversation will draw together perspectives from the private sector and the public interest so the audience can contemplate how we leverage this evolving model for greater impact.
Throughout the conference Penn’s students will be actively using the lessons learned in an embedded design competition. The competition question asks “How might we incentivize the legal profession to be more innovative?”
Please register: We want to hear your ideas
We are eager to see many of you in person. But if you can’t make it to Philadelphia, we are offering a virtual option that will allow people around the world to tune in and engage.
The conference will be a two-day living display of what we are thinking about and working on each day at FPI. How can we bring an interdisciplinary approach to tackling the problems in the legal profession? How can we be intentional about attorney health and well-being, diversity, equity and inclusion? What must change to address the growing access to justice gap? What can we learn from experts in Business, Design, Nursing and other disciplines? How can we spark conversations that cross siloes—what happens when law firm leaders and academics, public interest lawyers and judges panel together?
Let’s find out, together. We not going to simply (in the words of the great Jim Sandman L’76, FPI’s Senior Consultant) “admire the problem.” We plan to build new skills and perspectives and practice them together. We will all do this in the Master Class in Design and Penn students will do it in the design competition.
If not now, when? And if not here, where?
We have seen more change in our profession in the last 30 months than in a century. And the change isn’t only in what we are doing, but also in how we are doing it. We all learned that collaboration and innovation can bring new value to our profession and the public we serve.
What better time to set aside two days, open our minds and our hearts to new ideas and new relationships to take a broad approach to thinking about the future of our profession than on the heels of all of this change? And what better place to do it than on this campus in this City full of students and professionals across disciplines who love learning from one another?
We hope to see you on November 3rd.
About the Author
Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack joined the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2013, and became Chief Justice in January 2019. Before her election to the Court in November 2012, she was a law professor and dean at the University of Michigan Law School. Since joining the Court, Chief Justice McCormack continues to teach at the Law School. Chief Justice McCormack is a graduate of the New York University Law School, where she was a Root-Tilden scholar. She spent the first five years of her legal career in New York, with the Legal Aid Society and the Office of the Appellate Defender. In 1996, she became a faculty fellow at the Yale Law School.