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June 1, 2014
Program to examine the profession’s challenges

By Mark D. Killian
Managing Editor

When President Eugene Pettis launched the Vision 2016 Commission a year ago, he noted the legal profession is going through evolutionary changes, and the commission’s job is to identify the challenges that lie ahead and set out a framework for meeting them.

Eugene Pettis “We can’t miss the future,” Pettis said, as the 68 members set out on its three-year mission to focus on four broad areas — technology, the future of legal education, Bar admissions, and the delivery of legal services — that will greatly impact how lawyers practice in the decades to come.

A year into the study, members have an opportunity to learn where the commission is with its study and the challenges ahead.

“A Transforming Legal Environment: Setting a New Course for Success” — a Presidential Showcase event — will be held Friday, June 27, from 2-5 p.m., at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando.

Jordan Furlong, a lawyer, consultant, and legal industry analyst who forecasts the impact of the changing legal market on lawyers, clients, and legal organizations, will provide the keynote address: “Deep Impact: What the Legal Profession Can Learn From the Chicxulub Comet.”

“Sixty-five million years ago, the cataclysmic impact of a comet off what is now the Yucatan Peninsula changed the course of our planet’s history. But there’s more to the story than what is widely believed, and hidden in that story is a lesson for the legal profession. The legal market is entering a period of upheaval unprecedented in its history, changing the business environment completely, and creating tremendous challenges for lawyers. This presentation will explain the forces transforming the legal market and their impact on attorneys, map out the evolution of that market over the coming decades, and provide lawyers with strategies and tactics to emerge from this time of disruption stronger and better able to serve their clients,” according to Furlong.

Furlong has delivered dozens of addresses to law firms, state bars, law societies, law schools, judges, and many others throughout the U.S. and Canada on the evolution of the legal services market.

Furlong, a Canadian lawyer and consultant to law firms on strategic and tactical issues with Edge International, told the commission in January that the biggest issues the profession will face in the next three to five years include:

* Technology that performs a legal or lawyer function;

* Online dispute resolution;

* Technology-assisted review.

Companies entering the legal market, including LegalZoom and RocketLawyer, can draft, in a matter of minutes, “airtight, top-notch contracts,” pulled together without the use of a lawyer, he said.

“They are really not doing anything that a law firm could not be doing right now, as well, or frankly could have begun doing five years ago,” Furlong said.

But that’s just the beginning, as more powerful and sophisticated technologies start pouring into the legal marketplace.

Furlong is the author of Evolutionary Road: A Strategic Guide to Your Law Firm’s Future (Attorney At Work) and co-author of Content Marketing and Publishing Strategies for Law Firms (The Ark Group). He also serves as legal innovation strategist in residence at Suffolk University Law School in Boston and is co-chair of the Board of Suffolk’s Institute for Law Practice Technology & Innovation.

Furlong will also moderate a discussion of the four chairs of the Vision 2016 Commission so they can summarize their committee’s progress to date:

* Debra Moss Curtis, chair, Legal Education Committee.

* Lansing “Lanse” C. Scriven, chair, Bar Admissions Committee.

* John M. Stewart, chair, Technology Committee.

* Adele I. Stone, chair, Access to Legal Services Committee.

The program will also feature a program titled “What Does the Future Hold for Florida’s Lawyers?” that will include panelists Martha Barnett, David Hazouri, and Chidi Ogene, who will discuss the themes of the keynote presentation and the committee reports, answer some prepared questions, and identify their own top two legal market trends for the coming decade.

Barnett, of Tallahassee, has practiced law with Holland & Knight since 1973 and is now a retired senior partner. She served in leadership roles in the firm, including the chair of the government section and the chair of the board of directors. Barnett was the president of the ABA in 2000-01 and the first woman to chair the ABA House of Delegates

Hazouri is an 18-year litigator licensed to practice in both Florida and New York. He started his South Florida legal career with Shook Hardy & Bacon, subsequently becoming a partner at Bilzin, Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod. In 2006, Hazouri started his own eDiscovery company in Miami and then returned to practice with the law firm Shubin & Bass. He is currently the managing director of MiamiLex, a subsidiary of the global LPO, UnitedLex.

Ogene is the interim dean at Florida Coastal School of Law. Most recently, he served as the general counsel of the InfiLaw System, a consortium of independent ABA-approved law schools, where he facilitated initiatives in curricular reform, transaction execution, corporate governance and compliance, litigation, and regulatory affairs. Prior to joining InfiLaw, he was a partner with Gilbert LLP in Washington, D.C., where he practiced commercial and corporate law.

Participants will be invited to question the speaker, leaders, and panelists. Suggestions or recommendations for the Vision 2016 Commission from the audience members will
also be welcomed.


For more information about the Bar’s 2014 Annual Convention, visit www.floridabar.org.

[Revised: 02-25-2015]