Bias disclosure upfront.  I consider myself a disciple of Paul Lippe, the CEO of Legal OnRamp.  He’s a very smart guy (and much taller in person) and a visionary (and a member of Valorem’s advisory board).  I always learn a lot when he speaks.

So here’s the latest.  I am in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico with my two sons this week for a bit of dad and son bonding.  As a result, I missed attending the program on law firm evolution sponsored by the Center For Study Of The Legal Profession, part of Georgetown Law School.  But courtesy of tweets by Ron Friedmann, Jordan Furlong, and others, I was able to follow the program from poolside.  (There’s a post in there about use of technology for clients, but that is another day.)

Here’s the post that just made me smile:

#GtownLFE Lippe – Law firm model is ‘Lewis & Clark’ – go out and explore. Rest of world uses Google maps

Lewis and Clark,of course, conducted the first overland expedition to the west coast.  They had no maps.  They followed rivers without knowing where they were going, climbed mountains not knowing that there were more mountains yet ahead.  In hindsight, it seems terribly romantic and all that, but in truth it was treacherous, painful and so very inefficient.  Imagine if they just could have pulled down satellite imagery.

Paul’s point is that law firms always seem to insist that “law is different and therefore we lawyers have to figure out how to do whatever we are going do ‘the lawyerly way’ even though so many other businesses have done exactly what we are trying to do.”

Elsewhere, Paul has described the “new normal” for the legal world as being many things simultaneously.  The billable hour monolith will give way to different structures and different modes of delivering legal services.  I accept this as the new normal, and what this new normal likely means is that some lawyers or firms will recognize the value of Google maps and their trip to the future will be fast and easy compared to those who choose the Lewis and Clark model.  Some lawyers invariably will benefit from the accelerating pace of change, while others will simply be passed by.

Hopefully those following the Lewis and Clark model will enjoy the scenery.  Regardless, it’s a great bit of imagery and insight from Paul Lippe.