The latest instalment of ReInvent took place last week at University of Westminster’s buildings in central London, and while I didn’t win this year’s fortune cookie prize, it was once again an informative event, buzzing with optimism and excitement. As is the general theme of these events, most of the speakers were preaching to the converted about the need for the law to ‘reinvent’ itself, to embrace a new period of modernism and lift itself out of its current stoic conservatism.
The initial burst of excitement surrounding ReInvent, which we experienced to some extent last year, has perhaps diluted a little bit, as the business realities of the industry continue to hamper the effectiveness of the movement’s zeal. The event perhaps also suffered a little bit from the absence of an obvious keynote speaker – last year Richard Susskind gave the event some definite stardust allure. But, with a more academic focus compared to last year’s greater variety – there was no interpretive dancing to Kanye West in this year’s edition – the event’s speakers gave a broad range of insights and updates on the most recent developments in legal tech.
There was once again a decent mixture of experienced law firm lawyers and and upcoming legal tech start-ups, with the usual sprinkling of University of Michigan and (for the London rendition) University of Westminster students. Major themes included legal project management and Big Data, as well as forays into legal cartoons, law firm office party fun and how to bring a bit of the Buzzfeed ethos into the legal marketing space. Ken Grady from Seyfarth Lean and John Croft from Elevate were the major LPM speakers (the latter was first to mention England’s defeat to Uruguay the night before) and both vouched for the need to ditch project management jargon in favour of a language that is better suited to lawyers. Other highlights included Janvi Patel’s talk on Halebury, an alternative legal services provider, and Brian Inkster, founder of law firm Inksters who believes that a fun office environment can help win clients as well as boost team morale.
Like other ReInvent conferences, the speeches were done using Ignite presentations, which limit the length of the talks to being 6 minutes, using only a few slides. The Twitter feed screen also reemerged, allowing for plenty of congratulations, musings and joviality between attendees at the conference. GC Research Club were well represented on the Twitter feed, reflecting on various talks while also injecting some light-hearted humour at points too – though the #reinventmusic hashtag failed to generate much traction. The #reinventlaw hashtag did, however, trend worldwide on twitter – it even trended above the World Cup! – showing how great the interest in the movement is.
Hosted with the University of Westminster and LexisNexis (who provided cake), the event once again highlighted the desire and momentum for change in the industry. The only significant disappointment was again the lack of in-house lawyers attending. While academics, consultants, and tech start-ups will have some influence on leading change in the industry, ultimately, it is the lawyers who will have to be behind the change.