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RE Finance Lawyers & Legal Technology? Rule of Three Requires Change

Posted in Technology (including Green Buildings)

As I’ve commented on in the past, legal technology is a tough subject for commercial real estate lawyers. Using the “rule of three“, I will offer up a short, historical perspective, in order to merit their attention on Friday of this week, when I’ll be speaking on legal technology at the University of Texas School of Law Mortgage Lending Institute.

Three Defining Points.

The first defining point burdens all lawyers.  The second continues to divide them from their clients or customers.  And the third is simmering and heading to a boil.

Let’s see if you can identify them.

1.  Who said this?  First thing we’ll do, we’ll kill all of the lawyers.”

With this line, the Bard captured the hostility of the underclasses toward those who understand, and perhaps manipulated, the law; and in turn enriched themselves. It is spoken from the perspective of those powerless to effectuate change.  The next defining point triggered a change that transformed this perspective to almost all buyers of legal services.

2.  Name the Gang of 9 who doomed the legal profession to the billable hour?

They know it when they see it, and they didn’t like what they saw.  This ruling in 1975 began the slippery slope of the hourly rate, alternative fee arrangements and most importantly, increasing friction between the legal profession and clients. In time, Shakespeare’s line returned, but now with a new focal point by a broad cross section of buyers: legal fees, legal fees, legal fees.

3.  Rock, Paper, Scissors: which one has 2 of these?

   

Rock (1):  The August 5, 2012 soft landing of Curiosity on Mars joined technology with hard rock – foreshadowing a significant decision by the American Bar Ass’n on the next day.  This decision will impact commercial real estate finance lawyers.

Scissors, Paper (2):  On August 6, 2012, the ABA added technology as a topic expressly included in the competency requirement of Model Rule 1.1 (and other ethical rules).  Scissors cutting apart the sole reliance on paper by lawyers.

These three promise to change “how” commercial real estate finance lawyers go about their work.

Please join me at the MLI later this week for more on this, or please comment below.