Richard Susskind uses a graph in his book, The End Of Lawyers?, and in his speeches that shows the pace of change as a "knee curve." The graph shows that we have experience comparatively little change until now, but we stand on the cusp of a period of great change. What does this mean? Try this explanation, courtesy of the J curve:
In his forthcoming book, Kurzweil summarizes the exponentiation of our technological capabilities, and our evolution, with the near-term shorthand: the next 20 years of technological progress will be equivalent to the entire 20th century.
To put this in some perspective, the blogger notes that at the beginning of the 20th century, there were only 144 miles of paved road in the entire country, 94% of Americans were born at home, had no electricity and most never graduated from high school.
Coincidentally, my mother just sent me an email that contained these comments from 1955:
‘I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it’s going
to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $10.00.
‘Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won’t be long before
$1, 000.00 will only buy a used one.
‘If cigarettes keep going up in price, I’m going to quit. 20 cents a pack
‘Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging 7 cents just to
mail a letter
‘If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will be able to hire
outside help at the store.
‘When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday
cost 25 cents a gallon.. Guess we’d be better off leaving the car in the
‘I’m afraid to send my kids to the movies any more Ever since they let
Clark Gable get by with saying DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, it seems every
new movie has either HELL or DAMN in it.
‘Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $50,000
a year just to play ball? It wouldn’t surprise me if someday they’ll be
making more than the President.
‘I never thought I’d see the day all our kitchen appliances would be
electric. They are even making electric typewriters now.
‘It’s too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women
are having to work to make ends meet.
‘It won’t be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to
watch their kids so they can both work.
‘I’m afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of
‘The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously
doubt they will ever catch on.
‘There is no sense going on short trips anymore for a weekend, it costs
nearly $2.00 a night to stay in a hotel.
‘No one can afford to be sick anymore, at $15.00 a day in the hospital, it’s
too rich for my blood.’
‘If they think I’ll pay 30 cents for a hair cut, forget it.’
Why is this important? Read my last post about the leaders of 25% of the AmLaw 200 not seeing fundamental shifts in the profession. But also think that if there is only a 25% chance that changes will be only profound instead of anywhere near what Kurzweil and Susskind are predicting, and think about what that means for you and your firm. But then think about your clients. How will their businesses change in a change environment? Will you be as nimble as they will? What are you doing now to prepare to be the lawyer they need in an environment that will be profoundly different.