Written by Ridhey Gill.

On January 30th, 2020 the Legal Innovation Zone hosted the first event of the newly launched Lead Law series titled: An Introduction to 21st Century Law. Moderated by LIZ’s Director Hersh Perlis, the discussion took place with topic experts Sabreena Delhon, Founder and Principal at Signal Strategies and Friedrich Blase, Managing Director at the Un-Firm of the Future. 

Lead Law is our newest student initiative to engage Ryerson students. This program was designed to be a high-level take on legal innovation with a goal that is three-fold: to engage, educate, and encourage students on how to lead differently in the world of law. After running our Legal Innovation Bootcamp for four years we saw an opportunity to make this newest student initiative more flexible. The program is facilitated through an online platform where pre-recorded videos are posted each month for students to watch any time between classes, work, extra-curriculars, and anything else that may fill up their schedules. Following each month’s topic, from January to March 2020, is an in-person session at the LIZ space where topic experts discuss concepts from the online videos in more depth and application.

January’s topic of interest was 21st Century Law – what it is, what it means, and how learning about it benefits students that are interested in entering the legal field. Our featured speakers discussed various points and answered students’ questions on access to justice and pushing for innovative action in law based on their experiences. 

“We are already 20 years into the 21st century, so we better get going.” – Friedrich Blase 

The opportunities available when we talk about 21st Century Law are enormous. We talk about it meaning that legal services be focused more on the consumer which is something we don’t see much in the industry today, meaning there is a required transformation that needs to happen. If this shift is to become a reality, it requires more from us. This transformation of bringing legal services into the 21st century will need to be brought ahead by a new wave of leaders who are very comfortable and adept to challenging traditional power structures and advancing change in new and meaningful ways. Lead Law participants are a part of this new wave of leaders that can and will bring action to destabilizing and improving a lot of the archaic and cumbersome practices we currently see in the legal industry. 

“There needs to be an awakening that the law belongs to everyone. There are lots of ways to be part of the solution and to advance this new frontier of justice beyond being a lawyer.” – Sabreena Delhon 

So really, what does 21st Century Law look like? Simply put, we need a legal system that is simpler, faster, and more affordable. When we talk about access to justice issues, we are talking about the large percentage of people and businesses who don’t have access to the legal services they need because it is too expensive, too difficult to understand, or inconvenient – leveraging the use of technology will help to significantly reduce these issues by automating some of the work that lawyers spend long hours over. The billable hour business model and its inefficiencies is just one example of an easy innovation to change the system by making it more affordable for consumers to access legal services. 

“We need to go out there and butt some heads, twist some arms, and say “We’re in charge”.” – Friedrich Blase 

This is an exciting time in the world of law that is full of opportunities. It is innovators like our Lead Law participants that will have the ability to challenge the way things have traditionally been done in the legal system and actively be a part of a much-needed transformation. Being a part of the Lead Law program is a great place to start thinking about how to lead differently in law, and we encourage students to stay involved with the LIZ with other opportunities that you can keep up to date with here.

Over the next two months we will be covering topics: Think Different/ Do Different, focusing on design thinking principles and how they can be used to innovate in law and A New Model: Allowing Innovation to Thrive, discussing how we can move towards creating a better model in the legal industry that will match consumer needs.