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Law 2030: Penn Law formally launches Future of the Profession Initiative

March 04, 2020

On February 27 and 28, 2020, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Future of the Profession Initiative (FPI) welcomed legal profession leaders, the clients they serve, and innovators from across disciplines to the Penn Innovation Center for “Law 2030: A Global Conversation About the Future of the Profession.” Led by Executive Director and Chief Innovation Officer Jennifer Leonard L’04, FPI seeks to “Teach, Lead, and Transform” by examining new ways law schools can adopt a holistic vision for the formation of lawyers both during law school and throughout their careers to create true Lifelong Learning for Penn Law lawyers. FPI also aims to bring creative thinkers to campus to design new solutions for legal service delivery disconnects.

Both days of Law 2030 were livestreamed, bringing together in-person attendees with hundreds of online participants from at least four continents and the continental U.S. for an interactive, educational, and inspirational conversation about how real change happens, why lawyers struggle to change, and how legal professionals can improve client service and learn from innovators in other fields.

The first day of programming was dedicated to “Navigating the Decade Ahead,” with Penn Law Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law Ted Ruger offering opening remarks.

Dean Ruger began by noting that with its roots in precedent and stare decisis, the legal profession is not necessarily noted for being innovative, but that one of the greatest legal innovations of modern history, the written Constitution, forms the basis of our profession and of society. Lawyers therefore have a deep history of innovation that the Law School hopes to modernize for a changing profession, particularly with efforts aimed toward increasing access to justice and making the profession more inclusive.

“With leaders like Jen Leonard, our Chief Innovation Officer, with many faculty and staff here, and with so many of you who come from other parts of the University, other parts of the country and the world, from different disciplines,” said Dean Ruger, “we’re all collectively thinking about ways that we in the legal profession can be more forward-looking, more efficient, more inclusive, and expand access to justice.”

Leonard also welcomed attendees, thanked Dean Ruger for his support as well as all of those who participated in the internal working group and advisory board who helped bring Law 2030 to fruition. She stressed that the conference was designed to be “educational, inspirational, and aspirational” with the overarching goal to help lawyers “be better at what we do by learning from others,” especially “innovators from other disciplines.”

Keynote speaker Vijay Govindarajan, Cox Distinguished Professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University, spoke about his book, The Three Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation, which he dedicated to his grandfather, whom he credits with teaching him that “the meaning of strategy is really about having a conversation about the future.” As Govindarajan noted about the theme of the event, “Law 2030 — thinking about the future of the profession — that is what strategy is all about.”

Govindarajan’s framework for handling change consists of balancing three boxes: managing the present at peak efficiency and profitability, selectively forgetting the past and any practices or ideas that would inhibit growth into the future, and creating the future through nonlinear, breakthrough ideas and experimentation that leads to new business.

Lourdes Slater L’92, Founder and CEO of Karta Legal and Cathy Carr L’79, Immediate Past Director of Community Legal Services (CLS) tackled the theme of “Why Lawyers Struggle to Innovate.” Slater posited that for innovation to occur, there must be a “perfect storm of three big components”: the technology must be feasible, humans must desire to change, and market factors must be favorable to change. Slater noted that the human factors of motivation, leadership, training, time, and fear are most determinative of whether innovation can happen.

Carr spoke from the perspective of a public interest lawyer, who must address issues such as how to effectively serve many clients and substantively solve problems. She maintained that lawyers and judges are making lots of change though it could be too little, too late; she encouraged not just fixes but innovation that embodies lawyers’ core values, including equality and justice for all and improves things for the most vulnerable.

“Legal in transition” was the topic of several 15-minute flash presentations, which included:

  • “The Growing Power and Influence of the General Counsel”: Connie Brenton, Chief of Staff & Senior Director of Legal Operations for NetApp, Inc.
  • “The Evolution of Legal Tech”: Claudia Johnson L’97 of ProBono Net
  • ”Strategic Law Firm Responses to NewLaw Disruption”: Bruce MacEwen, founder of Adam Smith, Esq.
  • “Comparative International Regulatory Experience & Predictions for the U.S.”: Madhav Srinivasan WG’94, CFO of Hunton Andrews Kurth
  • “The Emergence of the California Lawyers Association”: Emilio Varanini, President of the California Lawyers Association

Gina Passarella, Editor-in-Chief of The American Lawyer, moderated a lunch break discussion, and ABA President Judy Perry Martinez offered closing remarks, urging attendees to focus on their immediate surroundings and note how much those who designed the space for the conference considered the consumers of the conference.

“As we gather today,” said Martinez, “we should be thinking about our consumers in the same way that those wonderful, creative set designers and production team members have done. We need to be thinking about what we need to do for them and have them as our focus. We need to be asking the hard questions that we would expect other disciplines to ask when they are serving us. And that’s what we’re all about – service.”

Martinez echoed the remarks of Govindarajan, urging her fellow attorneys to “manage the present,” “selectively forget the past” but also remember important parts of it and move on, and “envision the future.”

The second day of the conference revolved around the topic of “Learning from Others,” and the morning began with a panel entitled “Health Care Innovators Leading Legal Service Providers,” moderated by Dean Ruger. Panel participants included Ralph W. Muller, Immediate Past CEO of Penn Health Systems; Mary D. Naylor, Marian S. Ware Professor of Gerontology at Penn Nursing and Director of the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health; and Roy Rosin, Chief Innovation Officer of Penn Medicine.

Flash presentations by “Innovators Who Inspire” followed:

  • “Using Gene Editing to Eradicate Heart Disease, #1 Killer”: Dr. Kiran Musunuru ML’19, Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Genetics, Perelman School of Medicine
  • “Reducing Oakland’s Gun Violence by Half”: David Muhammad of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform
  • “Lowering Incidence of Opioid Relapse Following ER Discharge”: Davis Hermann, Innovation Design Strategist, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation
  • “Better Connecting Manufacturers of Recalled Goods with Consumers”: Jehan Luth ML’20, founder of RotoMaire
  • “How Design Thinking Can Enhance Post-Discharge Outcomes for Patients with Significant Social Needs”: J. Margo Brooks Carthon, Associate Professor of Nursing; Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

After another discussion over lunch, moderated by FPI Advisory Board Members David Perla L’94, Co-COO of Burford Capital, and Sozi Pedro Tulante, Partner at Dechert LLP, Professor Gary Cazalet of the University of Melbourne discussed “Client-Centered Design Thinking for Legal Professional.”

Twelve students from Penn Law and other schools around campus competed to design a novel idea to address the well-being crisis in the legal profession during the “Innovators-in-Training” segment. Their ideas were judged by Christian Lang of legal tech company Reynen Court; Tamika Cummings L’03, General Counsel of ideas42 and founder of Innpactology; Cynthia Laury Dahl, Directory of Penn Law’s Detkin IP and Technology Legal Clinic; Mike Murphy, Clinical Supervisor and Lecturer in Penn Law’s Clinical Program; and Felicia Lin L’08, Penn Law Dean of Students.

The first place winner ($1,000 prize) was Canary Counsel and first runner-up ($500) prize went to the Wellness Leadership Initiative. The student ideas ranged from an anonymous rating system to aggregate and share associate feedback on partners with firm leadership to the creation of “mindful money” that would support associates in spending time engaged in activities that promote well-being.

The last featured speaker of the event was Jim Sandman L’76, President Emeritus of Legal Services Corporation, who delivered a call to action for the legal profession, concluding that it is “superglued” in Govindarajan’s first box of managing the present and must involve clients in any discussion involving innovation. He noted that the lawyer regulatory system is inhibiting or at least impeding a holistic delivery of services to clients.

“We need to have an interdisciplinary approach at every step when it comes to thinking about innovation in the practice of law,” said Sandman, listing his takeaways from Law 2030. “We need always to have a seat at the table for users directly, and we need to completely rethink the regulatory process.”

He then named the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School as an institution that is well situated to lead the innovation charge.

“When you have a world class law school situated in a world class university, right away you have access to the breadth of thinking you need to have available if we’re truly going to innovate in the legal profession,” said Sandman.