Lack of AI deployment in legal, I say

Posted on January 5th, 2016 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was published by Ark Group 4 January 2016 titled ‘Interview: Chrissie Lightfoot’ and is reproduced with kind permission. I was delighted to be interviewed and share some of my thoughts about AI (or lack of it) in the legal eco-system in advance of speaking at Ark’s Legal IT conference in London, UK, very soon !

Chrissie Lightfoot – named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists‘ & LinkedIn as the No.1 best-connected & most engaged woman in the legal industry”.

An inspirational woman entrepreneur, a solicitor (non -practising), consultant and regular international Keynote speaker, Chrissie Lighfoot is participating in the panel discussion Leveraging digital data growth with artificial intelligence( AI) in legal services at ARK’s  Legal IT  conference on 28 January.

Ahead of the conference we sent some questions her way to discuss AI in legal services, how firms can be doing more and what to expect from the panel discussion.

You are speaking on our panel discussion Leveraging digital data growth with artificial intelligence (AI) in legal services. Do you think law firms are doing enough with regards to this topic?

Unfortunately, no. Nowhere near enough. It’s reminiscent of the slow take up by lawyers and law firms of online social networking and social media, a game-changer for supporting lawyers and law firms in marketing and sales yet it was viewed with suspicion and a “let’s wait and see attitude”.

AI has the potential to be a real boon for the legal-ecosystem in a very positive way. It will help improve the quality of lawyering with regard to accuracy, advice, time savings and cost savings for lawyers and firms.

With the exception of a tiny handful of law firms here in the UK and abroad that have begun to grasp the benefits that AI brings to the legal field, the vast majority remain tinkering around the edges with ‘should we embrace this new technology’. Once they’ve broken down that barrier, considering ‘how to deploy it in our current business model to increase efficiency and productivity’ is the next hurdle, and one that many haven’t figured out yet.

Many are not even in the mindset of having a technology enabled legal service let alone being a technology led legal provider, like Riverview Law.

How do you think smaller firms can embrace AI and cognitive computing?

The challenge for small firms is to consider current AI system options (such as Kira, Ravn, IBM Watson, Neota logic) for the purpose to suit their business models and realise that the cost does not need to be beyond their reach. They can embrace AI and cognitive computing by simply beginning the conversations with the providers and understanding what exactly is possible from solo lawyer to international behemoth. All of these AI systems handle large (and smaller) quantities of structured and unstructured data, and can assist with advocacy and advisory related legal issues.

Your book Tomorrows Naked Lawyer discusses the impact AI is currently having on the law. In your experience, what percentage of firms are starting to take AI seriously?

0.0000001 %. Facta non verba. Action not talk is required. Currently there is a lot of talk, but a miniscule amount of action and actual take-up / real deployment. Shocking. But not at all surprising. Lawyers are behaving as they always have. Very slow to change and adapt. Unfortunately, for those that don’t embrace AI soon they won’t have anything to advise or talk about!

What do you think is the biggest challenge AI will present the legal industry with?

The biggest challenge AI will present the legal industry with is how will providers use this new technology to create new opportunities. The opportunity and challenge will be to create something new in legal with this kind of game-changing technology.

Providers of legal services will be challenged to think of new ways to be of service, to produce, to be different, to be truly innovative in using AI systems across the entire spectrum of fee-earner processes and business processes.

For example, Riverview Law with its AI virtual assistant KIM (Knowledge, Intelligence, Meaning), which effectively delivers ‘automation on demand’.

What can people expect from the panel discussion at Legal IT?

It will be educational, informative, enlightening, consultative, advisory and provocative!

Chrissie Lightfoot is part of a stellar line-up of must-see speakers from ARK’s independently researched programme.

Join the SRA, Addleshaw Goddard, Dentons US and more to get ideas, inspiration and insight to rise to the challenge of emerging technology in your firm.

Book your place now

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New Laws for the Age of Robot Companions?

Posted on December 29th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article (authored by me) was first published in LegalIt Today 12 December 2015, and is reproduced with kind permission.

In the second of two articles for Legal IT Today, Chrissie Lightfoot asks how the law will deal with the rise of human-robot companionship, relationships, sex and love.

In the first part of this article (called  It’s time to rewrite the book of law for the digital age ), published in the previous issue of LegalIt Today, I asked what laws would be required to cater for the proliferation of machine intelligence, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and robots. In this issue, I ask what laws will be required as relationships and even marriage between people and robots start to become increasingly commonplace.

Law in the robotic age

Prostitution is known as ‘the world’s oldest profession’. In order to gain some insight as to why people will be prepared to hire the services of robots for sex (malebots and fembots) and even contemplate marriage with them, I attended a futures conference in early 2014. Here I met David Levy, an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher and the author of a thesis titled Robot Prostitutes as Alternatives to Human Sex Workers 1.

David argues that the arrival of sexbots seems imminent when we consider recent trends in the development of humanoids, sex dolls and sex machines of various types. I agree. But where will all this sit with the law?

Robot hooker

With regard to sex dolls, Japan and Korea lead the way. Upmarket sex dolls, for example, have been seen as a possible way around Korea’s Special Law on Prostitution. Hotels in the country started to hire out ‘doll experience rooms’. These hotels assumed that there was no question of them breaking the law, as their dolls were not human. Since sex acts were occurring with a doll and not a human being, the Special Law on Prostitution did not apply.

With sex dolls becoming increasingly ‘human’ in appearance, touch and able to relate (comprising AI, meaning the sex doll / robot converses and expresses emotion), it is highly likely that sex entrepreneurs will infiltrate the global ‘sex for hire’ community swiftly. The robot sex for hire money-go-round will be too lucrative to pass up.

How will this affect the UK, US, Japan, Korea and other countries? We will have to address our existing laws on prostitution (and porn), particularly when robots become so sophisticated that we will indeed be questioning what it means to be ‘human’ and the ethics and morals surrounding this.

Attitudes and behaviour with regard to relationships, love, sex, sexual exploits and sexual union have changed through the ages in relation to age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. For example, homosexuality, until very recently, was a taboo subject and societies throughout the world spurned gay men and women. But attitudes have changed and the law has followed. Here in the UK, and in some other parts of the world, gay marriage is now lawful. I dare say that if you had read in the 1980s or 90s (30 or 20 years ago) that the UK Parliament would pass the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the US would enact a similar law, you would have scoffed and mocked. But here we are in 2015 and so it is.

Robot marriage

We currently live in a world where:

  • In divorce proceedings, the parties argue over who gets full custody of the pet;
  • A bridegroom chooses a dog as his best man;
  • There are websites where you can ‘marry’ your dogs;
  • Our children adore virtual pets, such as the Tamagotchi;
  • Sex dolls are available for hire;
  • A man says (in real life): ‘I’ve tried having girlfriends but I prefer my relationship with my computer’;
  • Men marry their computer game characters/sex-dolls; and • Gay marriage is lawful.

Human-robot relationships are surely indicative of the way human love, relationships, sex and marriage are evolving. I share more of my ideas and predictions in my latest book, Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045, along with my belief that it is likely that some societies will accept love, sex and even marriage with robots within 20 years. Matrimonial law and family law will need to evolve accordingly.

If you’re thinking my ideas are outrageous, think again. Since writing that book in early 2014 and publication later that year, my predictions and insights have been picked up in the mainstream press, media and popular culture, and the topic has, thankfully, begun to be debated – at least in the public domain, if not in the ivory towers of law.

Robot wife

While there have been fictional accounts of human-robot relationships, sex and love recently in popular culture – for example the TV drama series Humans and the movies Her and Ex Machina – there have also been real-life accounts, some of which include marriage.

There are, for example, men who already claim to love and/or desire to be married to their robot; see synthetic love and technosexual. Back in November 2009, a Japanese man stood before a congregation to marry the ‘woman’ he loved, Nene Anegasaki. Nene is a computer game character, a ‘virtual girlfriend’ in the Nintendo DS game Love Plus which he ‘brought to life’ as a sex doll. In doing so, he arguably became the first man to marry his robot.

It is inevitable that the rise of humanrobot companionship, relationships, sex and love will lead people to call for the right to marry their robot, forcing lawmakers to consider expanding marital rights and lawyers to deal with the disruption and problems that will inevitably ensue.

Is it too far fetched to claim that 20/30 years from now we could be reading that the Robot Partnership Act 2035/45 has become law?

Law in the interstellar age

Such is mankind’s curiosity, thirst for knowledge and spirit of adventure that a Dutch company announced early in 2014 that it requires 20 healthy adults to train for eight years to be the first group of human beings to colonise Mars by 2023. This being the case, I highly recommend that one of these 20 souls should be a legal anthropologist. If we have a blank sheet, and we contemplate law and order on a new planet, how would we begin all over again? I suggest: ‘From martial law to Martian law… but not back again.’ 2

Someone told me recently: ‘I admire how you handle the tension between technology’s promise and its peril.’ And I guess this statement sums up what lies ahead for those valiant colonists, for us entrepreneurs / business people, lawyers and the law-makers writing the ‘letter of the law’ at the dawn of the digital, robotic and interstellar ages. Ask yourself:

  • How are you going to combine ‘pure blood’ human workers and robot workers in your business? What employment law issues are likely to cause concern?
  • Is the law already fit for purpose to support and/or protect your commercial interests and working environment as robots permeate your business? If not, what do we need to do about it?
  • How do you reconcile porn and/or prostitution and/or robot sex workers related to the workplace, and business ethics as humanoid robots enter the working environment?
  • Are you ready not only to think about all this, but also to do something about it?

One thing is certain, we require what I call ‘NewLaw’ in this digital age, looming robotic age and inevitable interstellar age to cater for the robot worker. To bring law and order in an attempt to avoid imminent chaos, we must act now.

Chrissie Lightfoot (legal futurist, speaker, consultant and writer) – the entrepreneur lawyer – is named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists’, and LinkedIn as theNo.1 best-connected and most engaged woman in the legal sector’. She is the author of bestseller “The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You!” and its sequel “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045.” You can pick up her latest book today by emailing

1 Levy, D, Robot Prostitutes as Alternatives to Human Sex Workers, white paper, London, 2006. Accompanying material includes: Levy, D, Marriage and Sex With Robots, EURON Workshop on Roboethics, Genoa, March 2006; Levy, D, Emotional Relationships With Robotic Companions, EURON Workshop on Roboethics, Genoa, March 2006; and Levy, D, A History of Machines With Sexual Functions: Past, Present and Robot, EURON Workshop on Roboethics, Genoa, March 2006; Levy, D, Love and Sex With Robots, Harper Collins, New York, 2007.

2 Lightfoot, C, Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045, Ark Group, London 2014.

Part 1 of this article can be found here: LegalIt Today (28 Sep 2015)

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The Golden Age of Naked Creativity

Posted on November 22nd, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in The Rouse 19th Nov 2015, republished by Thomson Reuters Legal Current 20th Nov 2015 and is reproduced here with kind permission of both:

We have the privilege of living in the most amazing Golden Age. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic engineering have bolted from the R&D labs and been embraced in a multitude of fields, industries and services bringing both promise and peril to society, consumers and workers.

Progressing at an exponential rate it is inevitable that AI and robotics will radically transform all of our lives – home, family, love and work. There have been a plethora of reports, articles and new stories this year mooting the positive and negative impact of the imminent ‘rise of the machine’. It is inevitable that the relentless march of AI and robotics will push the boundaries of what it means to be human, social and an employee in the months and years ahead once AI, avatars, icyborgs and robots infiltrate our homes and impact our working lives even more so.

Understandably, therefore, we are already witnessing the beginning of the debate in relation to the tension which is emerging with regard to the liberalisation and exploitation of AI and robots in society and impacting our blue-collar and white-collar jobs. The people and companies that succeed in the near future will be those that take the time now to assess the role of advanced technology in their working lives and service delivery model.

So it’s time to stop talking about the implications of AI and the potential impact of robots in society and our working lives, and start providing answers and solutions in how we can embrace the inevitable and still be successful.

Currently ‘the machine’ excels in speedy processing, researching, analysing, hypothesising, dealing with logic and delivering super intelligence. Contrast this with us humans who excel in the realm of reasoning, judgement, instinct, emotional intelligence, ‘humanness’ and creativity. Until such time as the machine can be as truly creative as us humans, we have a window of opportunity to dance in this space. Being creative will differentiate us from the machines… at least for a little while.

Accordingly we need to embrace this Golden Age of ‘Naked Creativity’, I reckon. Being creative and ‘naked’ (our UNIQUE authentic selves) will go some way in future-proofing our careers and/or businesses and relationships in the decade or two ahead. What employers regarded as top talent in the past is not the kind of talent required or expected currently or in future, particularly when the boss will be employing machines to do the process and high IQ related work further down the line.

Focussing on developing our emotional intelligence and becoming entrepreneurial, intrapreneurial, innovative, creative, imaginative and dynamic in our working lives could certainly help us retain our jobs before we are eventually replaced; let us not forget that ‘the machine’ is already learning to be creative; it can compose music symphonies, write stories, news content, play a musical instrument etc already.

In an increasingly competitive and AI Age we need to be creative about who, what, where, when, why and how we provide services and products as individuals and businesses.

So, how can we humans future-proof our livelihoods and companies prepare for the age of AI and robotics?

Albeit it has been said that creativity charts its own course, it still needs a compass.

Steps which can be taken today as an individual include:

And steps which can be taken as a business include:

  • being creative in your use of technology, people, business planning, strategy, marketing and branding (business and personal and product);
  • being creative in your financing, investment and billing (however, when you’re billing your client for lingerie, expect a visit from a legal bill auditor);
  • understanding the personality and psychology of creative people;
  • embracing the new breed of digital consumer/customer/client;
  • embracing the talent mix blend of the machine and human; the role that technology and AI can play positively and each human in your workplace;
  • being smarter about business relationships, marketing, business development, communication and being social;
  • watching and learning from new AI and robotics market entrants;
  • creating competitive new business offshoots;
  • being creative about how you buy legal services; and
  • consider settling litigious matters creatively

Settling legal problems creatively? Is that not an enigma?

Actually, no. It has been said that lawyers make terrible entrepreneurs but there are exceptions. I consider myself and many others to be such exceptions.

For example, solicitor Gary Assim (The Image Lawyer), solicitor Brian Inkster, solicitor Steve Kuncewicz, and barrister Sinead King (The Entrepreneur Advocate).

Sinead is one of those rare barristers who stands in the shoes of her technology, media and creative industries clients and consistently looks for ingenious ways to represent her clients and come up with an inspired solution to their legal problem. In her own words:

“I think lawyers tend to shy away from the label “creative” because of its connotations of bringing something truly original into the world. It’s my clients who are bringing new things into the world, but it’s my job to understand their vision in order to translate their ambitions into a legally sound reality. Often legal problems arise because the players have a blind spot or two, and haven’t necessarily had the time to consider a situation in all its dimensions – human and legal, big picture and small. Legal creativity is having the flexibility to shift between perspectives in order to craft a solution that protects my clients’ freedom to grow. I don’t have the imagination to innovate on the scale of my clients and many of them would be appalled at the idea of arguing over large sums of money for a living but together we make a very effective team.”

If lawyers, perceived as the least entrepreneurial and creative of all professions and workers can be creative, surely you can too.

It takes courage to be creative, to dare to be different, to think and act outside the herd. It’s much easier and safer to stick with the pack. But the dawn of the Golden Age of Naked Creativity is upon us. You can prepare or watch from the step outside reception whilst the robots march by: it’s your choice.

Chrissie Lightfoot – the entrepreneur lawyer – is named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists’, and LinkedIn as theNo.1 best-connected and most engaged woman in the legal sector’. She is the author of bestseller “The Naked Lawyer” and its sequel “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045.” You can pick up her latest book today by emailing

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Come the AI legal armageddon, what’s in it for me?

Posted on October 28th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in Legal IT Professionals 26 October 2015 and is reproduced with kind permission.

The world is experiencing an explosion in tech start-ups that are jumping on the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution bandwagon to serve the hunger of established markets and new markets. You only have to follow the plethora of tweets on the subject of #Fintech and #LegalIT (aka #lawtech) to realise that certain sectors are enjoying exponential promise, opportunity and growth. The legal ecosystem is potentially one of these.

I am pleased to witness the current deployment of the potential, promise and peril of cognitive computing, AI and robots in the legal world. It’s been too long in arriving. 

Albeit some businesses of law have innovated in many ways this past decade since the passing of LSA2006, such as reinventing old business models, creating new business models, adopting smart digital strategies, making the switch from legacy IT systems to cloud based, and the efficient use of office space etc etc, it’s only now, in 2015 that a significant game-changer is afoot. Enter stage right – Robot Lawyer. Exit stage left – junior human lawyer.

Currently we have IBM Watson cognitive computing and AI technology already deployed in the legal market in the UK and USA. Riverview Law is using IBM Watson technology to serve blue-chip clients needing to research, manage and analyse large quantities of contracts.

Similarly Dentons is working with Ross Intelligence Inc and its “AI lawyer” dubbed ROSS – haled as the world’s first AI Lawyer – mainly for bankruptcy related legal research matters. Albeit not quite Robot Lawyer in cute metallic form, ROSS is the smart result of a deal between the company, Apple (using Siri’s slick voice capabilities) and IBM (Watson’s cognitive computing prowess) and will be a huge boon for lawyers, law firms and clients; potentially.

And we have RAVNace recently embraced by Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP)  real estate department and commercial practices for ‘deep research’ and processing (extracting specific pieces of information from large documents ) by LONALD (the name the associates gave the AI machine which is welcomed as being more efficient, productive and accurate than they can possibly be) here in the UK. LONALD is due to be “rolled-out” in all BLP departments over the next 3 years in an attempt to boost efficiency and improve the morale of its lawyers. The firm’s head of legal risk consultancy Matthew Whalley believes this is only the beginning of how law firms can use AI.


Currently there are automated, cognitive computing and AI systems that a) support lawyers and b) replace lawyers in their role. As machines become more intelligent it is inevitable that the machine will move up the legal vertical and do more replacing of human lawyers than supporting. It came as no surprise when Richard Susskind said last week: “Advances in artificial intelligence will result in a steady decline in market demand for human professionals in the long term.”

Again, no-brainer.

Lawyers must wake up to the possibility and likelihood that the machine will evolve from dealing solely with commoditised and research related legal work and move into the realm of reasoning and judging too; it already can, but we’re only using this brilliant technology currently as a carthorse rather than its true calling as a thoroughbred.

It’s also inevitable that more of the Top 100 firms that have been sniffing around the AI technology suppliers will tip, eventually. They will have no choice. They too will deploy IBM Watson or RAVN or another alternative AI software tech start-up provider perhaps for commoditised and/or high end complex due diligence work or a bespoke niche offering. The AI Armageddon is only a puff away.

Currently, law firms are using advanced technologies to “deliver quantifiable productivity improvements” says Joanna Goodman, legal IT journalist. Timothy Corcoran in his Law 2023 report writes: “Technology will enable lawyers to bill for real value.” And John Alber, a fellow Futurist, is of the opinion that when we look back on this period in 20 or 30 years’ time “I expect we will agree that the most significant metric underlying the transformation of legal practice will have been the cost per unit of processing power. Not profits per partner.” 

And so, what I am interested in, as a buyer of legal services, is HOW are ROSS and LONALD and whatever robot lawyer pops up next, going to benefit me, directly?

To be candid, if the real and potential benefits of providing legal advice include speed of service and reduced cost respectively, to achieve a positive outcome, which has ultimately come about via the use of sophisticated IT /AI at some point during the legal service/problem continuum, and as a legal buyer my main concern is the right result, quality, value for money and/or price (which remains the issue in many instances), and I know lawyers and law firms can now do the work quicker, smarter and more accurately using AI and cognitive computing technology, can I therefore expect my legal fees to be reduced?  

In other words, how are you Mr(s) Lawyer, going to justify your fee when I will be asking you what is your real cost per unit of processing power? Let’s face it, if the machine is much faster and more accurate and is being used for some element of the legal work INSTEAD of a human lawyer, should I still be paying the same as I always have?

I asked Sinead King, a barrister who serves technology clients whom I met at a tech start-up seminar earlier this year, what she thought of the potential for technology, AI and robot lawyer to help her in her role and to benefit her clients. Ms King said:

“As a fixed-fee direct access barrister, I often end up spending far more time on a project than I can bill to my client – technology which increases my accuracy and decreases my hours is certainly something I’m keen to explore.  That said, the main focus of my practice tends to involve translating human interactions into legal terms which are then assessed by human judges and tribunals. Translating into and out of “human” is something technology has yet to learn to do.  I’ve no doubt it can learn:  by analogy, it used to be said that chess grand masters could never be beaten by machines – until they were.” 

Prompted further Ms King added: “I’m not sure of the degree to which machines should replace human decision making: I’m uncomfortable about the risks of King Solomon-style “justice” instead of living, breathing decision-makers willing to mitigate rough justice with “mercy” and “equity.”  Rather, I see technology as an important tool to increase accuracy, decrease time spent on routine tasks, giving me the freedom to efficiently focus on the aspects of a case which genuinely require a living expert in law and “human”.”

Come the AI legal armageddon, what’s in it for the client? If the big-players aren’t passing on their time and cost savings to the client, not a lot. But arguably, a great deal, potentially. For, as the legal buyer grows increasingly aware of all the options available in the marketplace and just like google search is becoming increasingly accurate, the client will expect lawyering to become so too, whether delivered by the human or the machine, or a blend of both. And (s)he won’t expect to pay the kind of legal fees they have in the past.

Chrissie Lightfoot is named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists’, and LinkedIn as the No.1 best-connected and most engaged woman in the legal sector. She is the author of bestseller “The Naked Lawyer” and its sequel “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045.” You can pick up her latest book today by emailing

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SocialHuman: a leap of faith

Posted on August 13th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article originally appeared in Professional Marketing magazine, volume 23, issue 1, summer 2015, and is reproduced with kind permission.

In a controversial extract from her new book Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer, Chrissie Lightfoot believes that branding isn’t everything. But everything is branding.

As I say in my book, I believe marketing to be dead. But branding isn’t… It’s time to share my thoughts, ideas, successes, and examples and start bringing together what I’ve shared with you thus far (and in the three sections that follow) with regard to a critical subject with reference to companies, ‘things’, and people across the globe, and no doubt a topic which perplexes and, sometimes vexes, the majority of businesses of law and lawyers; namely, branding.

We’re going to look at company brand (‘Brand,Firm’), personal brand (‘Brand,Me/You’), and product brand (‘Brand,Product’).

You may be asking yourself, ‘why these three?’ Well, many people have asked me in the past few years:

‘Chrissie, how did you do it? How have you gone from a no-body into a ‘somebody’ who works with top companies all around the world?

How did you do it from a standing start with no money, no network and no connections at the start of the worst recession the world has ever experienced?

What’s your secret?’

‘My secret?’, I reply, ‘It’s a leap of brand.

The secret lies in the brand trio, and the order in which you build the brand in this Digital Age.’

So here’s the trio and here is the order in which I built a viable, feasible and sustainable six-figure company and lifestyle these past few years, from absolutely nothing:


Brand,Product; and


Why did I do it this way and why does it work?

  • ‘Brand,Me’ and ‘Brand,Product’ build the profile and reputation of ‘Brand,Firm’ by volume and in stages giving depth and breadth to the power of THE BRAND, the SOCIAL BRAND, and SOCIALHUMAN;
  • It’s highly cost-effective and has the most impact this way, fast;
  • ‘Brand,Me’ and ‘Brand,Product’ generate the income (provide the funding) for creating ‘Brand,Firm’ and/or re-branding ‘Brand,Firm’. This is hugely important for companies with limited financial clout, which is the reality for the majority of businesses of law that simply do not a have a Daddy Warbucks Branding War Chest; and
  • It’s because THIS is the ORDER your clients and prospects relate to your company. It’s what clients/customers/consumers want in this Digital Age and Robotic Age. They buy due to emotion and justify the purchase with logic. It therefore seems logical that you focus building a brand starting with humanness (‘Brand,Me’) and share something of benefit/value with the customer (‘Brand,Product’) whereby ‘Brand,Firm’ is naturally borne from these two.

This is not pie in the sky theoretical waffle, or mumbo-jumbo. This brand trio order works. It works extremely well. It worked for me. It works for my customers. It will work for you too.

And now that various highly credible reports and research have provided proof of what my gut, logic, and entrepreneurial spirit told me, no doubt there will be fewer naysayers and more of you willing to take ‘a leap of brand’.

Every interaction you have with someone outside (and inside) your company is an instance of ‘relating’ – or, if you prefer, ‘branding in lights’. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is each interaction good, bad, or indifferent?
  • Effective or ineffective?
  • Positive or negative?
  • Brand-building or brand-destroying?

These are important questions – because branding is not everything, but everything is branding. Do you have what it takes to make ‘a leap of brand’?

‘Brand,Me’, ‘Brand,Product’, ‘Brand,Firm’

This brand triage is like magic. It’s not about which trumps which, btw, it’s about making sure you work on all three ‘brand horizons’ at the same time; a bit like your company-wide strategy and operational focus: horizons 1,2, and 3.


Do your colleagues have a choice word for you? If not, here’s why you want them to. Sometimes one word can make all the difference. It’s how people will instantly recall and remember you. For example:

  • Iron = Margaret Thatcher (the ‘iron lady’)
  • Dream = Martin Luther-King (‘I have a dream’ speech)
  • Best = Mohammad Ali (‘I’m the best’)

But you don’t have to be a celebrity, mega sports star, a leading politician, or any guise of famous for that matter. Let me tell you a wee story…

I was at an awards dinner (legal conference) recently. It was coming to a close and I had wandered into the reception area arm in arm with my fella. We collected our coats and then I popped to the ladies while he wandered outside to make a phone call in peace away from all the noise and hoi polloi to hail a taxi. On my returning to the spot where we had parted a rather tall, handsome, suave-looking guy walked confidently toward me with hand outstretched in readiness to greet me, bellowing an enthusiastic ‘HEY…NAKED!’

Co-incidentally, while this scene unfolded, my fella had just entered the reception area and was making his way back to me; only a few meters away, he would have definitely heard the shout of ‘hey…naked’. Everyone else in the room did. 90 per cent of the gathering turned and glanced toward me and ‘Mr Handsome’.

Now, most of us would be embarrassed/curl up and die/hope the ground would open up and swallow us whole, if this situation was unfolding, but I smiled sweetly and duly pressed the flesh when he sidled up beside me and planted a kiss on my cheek, beaming like Top Cat. The gentleman (I still didn’t have a Scooby-doo of an idea who he was) continued with ‘How are you? Great to see you here. I saw you last at the Claims Conference where you went down a storm and gave a really stunning speech about getting naked’[i].

My guy arrived at this point, placed his arm around me and held out a hand to ‘this guy’ and the usual pleasantries occurred. Phew.

In all innocence, I didn’t know the gentleman at all. He was a delegate at one of the many conferences I attended this year. Turns out he was an employee of the event organiser company when he explained himself further to the both of us during the short conversation. But he felt he knew me, through my message, and the one word… NAKED… resonated with him. (And now, 90 per cent of the 500+ delegates attending the dinner that evening do too!)

The lesson here is, authentic positioning and just one word matters – especially for individuals. ‘Mr Handsome’ couldn’t remember my first and last name, or the name of my company, but he remembered the brand essence of the message I live, breath, and teach (and the brand product book catchy title of the naked lawyer). That is, we need to get: NAKED.

This dovetails nicely with helping you understand, no doubt, the importance of having a powerful ‘Brand, Product’, such as a book, or equivalent. If you share something of benefit/value with the (potential or existing) customer, such as, the naked lawyer book and achieve conveying your message powerfully with one word, the likelihood is that your SOCIAL BRAND will be amplified through your personal brand and product brand. Meaning, there is no need to market, in the traditional sense. The power of the word, the association, the resonance, does it for you.

Chrissie Lightfoot – The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO, Entrepreneur Limited, legal futurist, speaker, consultant and writer – is author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045 (Dec 2014), and its prequel bestseller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! (Dec 2010). You can pick up her latest book today by emailing or call +44(0) 207 566 5792.

[i] March 13th 2014 – Claims Conference I was a speaker at the The Art of Reinvention conference, Manchester, UK, delivering a provocative presentation onThe Future of The Law”

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Extract from Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer – NewTech & SocialHuman tracking

Posted on August 11th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in Legal IT Today 30th June 2015 titled “When will technology enable law firms to monitor and understand social media communications?” and is reproduced with kind permission.

Chrissie Lightfoot shares an extract from her latest book, Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045. It includes her insights about “NewTech” and its application.

The businesses of law are increasingly relying on new technologies to drive processes and efficiencies. This trend is only going to continue as we advance into a robotic age with advanced technology encompassing cognitive computing, cognitive reasoning and artificial intelligence. Inevitably, legal businesses will become ever more tightly connected. The companies (and lawyers) that succeed in the near future will be those that take the time now to assess the role of advanced technology (NewTech) in their delivery and service model.

While all this whizz-bang legal technology may be fabulous, there are elements missing that would make it absolutely magical. “SocialHuman” tracking and attribution, for example.

I have spoken with a handful of (leading) existing legal tech providers about my idea to track the online social activity of lawyers and to drop that activity seamlessly into an existing ERP/DM AX/ DM/CRM system.

Where lawyers, prospects and clients increasingly meet and communicate in social land, it seems obvious that the tech systems need to evolve to cater for this communication medium and SocialHuman element. At present, lawyers have to feed the information into their tech system manually (using a keyboard) with regard to their activity on various social streams such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They do this to track the touch points with their prospects and clients to feed into the bigger CRM picture, resulting (hopefully) in a client matter and therefore the finance and (fingers crossed) remuneration system.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all this were done automatically? We’re there with document automation in law law land. We’re beginning to get there with marketing automation, slowly. But the next big thing, I reckon, in law law land tech, is to tackle SocialHuman technology.

I wonder which of the current legal tech players will be the pioneer? Perhaps it won’t be any of them. Perhaps it will be a new player that comes along and bolts the SocialHuman tech/software “plug and play” element into one of the MD platform providers.

On the subject of attribution, I was chatting with a couple of people from Google earlier this year at a conference and thereafter at Google HQ about Jaz Rasool’s relevance and resonance technology (since Google search and algorithms presently tick and buzz around relevance) and my idea about SocialHuman tracking attribution. I shared with them my views on the relationship cycle and correct attribution with regard to who in the law firm actually influenced the instruction from what social/web based activity – for example, using social networking, recording it easily, and therefore the right individual being rewarded accordingly.

The gist of their comments was this: in the future, we are going to have a much better understanding of attribution. Smart legal businesses are going to get more excited about things like how you can tell for sure that the advertising that resulted on you clicking on the ad got you to the website and resulted in the instruction – i.e. they’re going to want to know where the instruction really came from.

I reckon they were actually talking about which elements truly impacted the instruction decision. If we could combine this idea with what I am suggesting, then this would be magical for the lawyer, the prospect and client of the law firm, and ultimately for the owner of the business of law.

I can see it would certainly sit nicely with businesses of law that boast a merit-based system, such as RPC, which scrapped its flat rate salary for newly qualified (NQ) solicitors from September this year in favour of a merit-based system. The firm argues that the concept of the flat rate has “passed its sell-by date”. Hear hear! Perhaps if the law firm I was at was as pioneering and visionary as RPC, I would have stayed practising law there as a NQ with this fabulous setup in play!

Prior to September, only trainees and NQs had a fixed salary at RPC, with those higher up the chain already rewarded through a merit-based system. This is the most common (outdated IMHO) set-up in law law land as we currently know it.

While I’m on this innovating soapbox, I believe it’s timely to say that if the existing legal tech providers plugged the IBM Watson AI tech into their ERP/ MD AX/MD CRM systems then this would boost the value of their products exponentially in lots of areas. It’s not a bad or mad idea, since your brain and mine, and those of our fellow lawyers, prospects and clients are going to be “in the cloud” by 2029 and connected to technology and heaven knows what else.

Forewarned is forearmed. It’s better to be prepared than to be chasing your tail. I guess the question is: are you going to be a first mover or a laggard?

Coincidentally, since publishing Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer in November 2014 – we’re six months further down the NewTech evolutionary road – I believe IBM is making great strides in the very area I speak of: SocialHuman tracking attribution together with social media reputation of the company.

If Companies House opens up its datasets to the likes of IBM, it will mean that with the IBM Watson technology it will be able to go in, understand the totality of a company and potentially tie it into other data, for example, social media monitoring and social media reputation, thereby providing a full health check of a company. By monitoring and understanding social media communication, one has to wonder what goodies of information will surely flow. I shall leave you to ponder…

Chrissie Lightfoot is an entrepreneur turned non-practising solicitor turned entrepreneur and CEO of EntrepreneurLawyer. She is the author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045 (published November 2014) and its prequel best-seller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! (published in November 2010).

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ROSS, the AI Lawyer, comes to law law land

Posted on August 8th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was published 6th August 2015 by Managing Partner , authored by Manju Manglani , titled

‘Dentons invests in pre-artificial intelligence for lawyers’

and is reproduced with kind permission.

‘It was foreseeable and inevitable,’ says Chrissie Lightfoot.

By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Dentons has announced today that its collaborative innovation platform, NextLaw Labs, has signed two deals that will enable it to leverage IBM technology.

In a deal with its first portfolio company, ROSS Intelligence, NextLaw Labs is developing a legal advisor app powered by IBM Watson.

NextLaw Labs is also partnering with IBM Cloud to create a cloud-based technology platform to enable legal tech startups to create and deploy legal applications more quickly.

“This is an important moment in our profession. Joining the world’s largest law firm with the world’s leading technology provider is just one of the ways that NextLaw Labs is working to transform the legal industry,” said Joe Andrew, global chair at Dentons.

“By focusing on using new technology to work smarter and ultimately lower our clients’ costs, our interests and our clients’ interests are one and the same.”

Dubbed ‘ROSS’, the legal advisor app is expected to streamline legal research, saving lawyers time and clients money.

With the support of Watson’s cognitive computing and natural language processing capabilities, lawyers ask ROSS their research question in natural language, as they would a person, then ROSS reads through the law, gathers evidence, draws inferences and returns an evidence-based answer.

Dentons’ lawyers and staff are working with ROSS to refine the body of legal data and knowledge before it is made publically available.

“Technology is now and will continue to be a real differentiator in the legal profession,” commented Dan Jansen, CEO, NextLaw Labs.

“The potential in companies like ROSS shows how the approach to solving client challenges is going to change. NextLaw Labs wants to be a part of transforming what is possible into a tangible offering in today’s legal market.”

Under the second deal to leverage IBM technology, NextLaw Labs will provide legal tech startups with access to IBM Cloud and the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups.

These companies will also have access to IBM’s platform-as-a-service, Bluemix, the largest cloud foundry deployment in the world.

Rise of AI in the legal sector

Technology is increasingly being leveraged to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of legal services.

A recent Managing Partner survey found that tech-savvy lawyers are key to law firms’ survival.

Chrissie Lightfoot, author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw, predicted in a 2011 Managing Partner article that law firms would use AI and robotics in future.

Asked for her view on the news that Dentons was investing in ROSS, she told Managing Partner: “I’m not at all surprised by this news. It was foreseeable and inevitable.”

“It’s a natural progression with regard to the evolution of Robot Lawyer and the coming together of brilliant technologies – cognitive computing, AI and robotics (in due course).

“ROSS, haled as the world’s first AI Lawyer, albeit not yet Robot Lawyer, is the smart result of a deal between the company, Apple (using Siri’s slick voice capabilities) and IBM (Watson’s cognitive computing prowess) and will be a huge boon for lawyers, law firms and clients. I’m really excited by this progress.”

However, Lightfoot warned against describing ROSS as “pure” artificial intelligence.

“ROSS isn’t really pure AI, it’s cognitive computing; ROSS will not be doing the same as a human. The evidence-based answer will be drawn from a range of possible answers and the best suited presented from an existing data-set. AI comes up with something new,” she said.

“Nonetheless, ROSS is first out of the lab, and Dentons, not unlike Riverview Law which is using an element of Watson’s cognitive computing for simplifying workflow, is utilising what I would describe as the low end of Watson’s capabilities.”

She concluded: “In time, Ross and its competitors will evolve and utilise the high end Watson talent which tackles complex due diligence legal work. I am confident that more law firms will embrace cognitive computing technologies and AI technologies in due course such as RAVN’s and IBM’s. This is a really positive thing for the legal eco-system.”

In January 2015, Riverview Law announced that it was investing in artificial intelligence.

Under its agreement with the University of Liverpool, Riverview has IP ownership to new technology that automates legal workflow processes and creates visualised analytics.

“This is the holy grail of technology,” Riverview’s CEO, Karl Chapman, told Managing Partner at the time.

“Our platforms are highly configurable, such that knowledge workers can do it – you don’t have to be a professional IT developer – you or I could do it with one day’s training. You could create end-to-end workflow processes and all the analytics would come out of it.”

In an interview with Managing Partner, Chapman predicted that artificial intelligence will change the future of legal work.

“I think the future is really clear and many law firms will adapt to it, but some won’t.”

In 2015, Dentons launched NextLaw Labs as an autonomous, wholly-owned subsidiary, with physical and virtual locations in technology centres worldwide.

NextLaw Labs is intended to be an active technology investor, accelerator and business incubator. It intends to create new products and services that will change the practice of law, improve client service and enhance client solutions.

“As NextLaw Labs continues to grow, our lawyers get early access to tools that help them deliver better outcomes, and our clients benefit from cutting-edge technologies not yet available on the market,” said Elliott Portnoy, global CEO at Dentons.

Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at University of Washington, recently warned that developments in artificial intelligence and robotics will test law and policy.

“I join a chorus of voices, from Bill Gates to the White House, to assume that robotics represents an idea whose time has come,” he said.

Lightfoot’s thoughts on how law firms can use AI to improve client services will be published in an upcoming issue of Managing Partner. Subscribe today to read her ideas.

You can also learn more about how AI and robots will impact many aspects of our lives and how to future-proof your career and/or business in my latest book: Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045.

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Legal insurance market gets into gear

Posted on August 1st, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

Guest post by Mike Willis, The Professional’s B(r)and-Aid, is Director of F Mike Willis Ltd Solicitors, specialising in professional risks. 

This article was first published in the Global Legal Post 19 July 2015 and is reproduced with kind permission:

The Insurance renewal season is now in swing, especially for lawyers still tied to the October-September annual cycle, generating the usual volume of trade press guidance and warnings.

Broadly the market remains benign this year, without substantial hikes of premiums. Competition and comparisons between insurers is evidenced as much by variations of policy periods and Insurer credit ratings as premium price offers. Work types and practice areas are important factors, but for most firms it is the bare statistics of frequency and numbers of claims which remain the most controlling driver of the availability and cost of their insurance, without much science or investigation of either the subjective causes and likelihood of recurrence of claims, or the amounts of insurers’ outlays.

The quality of handling and resolutions of claims is accordingly much less significant to future insurance costs than firms’ capability to avoid them in the first place.Yet somehow, the key messages and lessons linked to understanding and reduction of the causes of claims, and the direct financial benefits that can bring, still seem to be relegated behind other headlines of (mainly regulatory) risk management and insurance supply. Information security and ‘Cyber’ risks, for example, have been the subject of many column inches in professional trade media, with abundant cautionary tales and warnings about the additional costs of insuring against them; but the proportion of insurers’ aggregate outlays directly affecting premium levels is still relatively low, and probably not a significant driver of premiums, up or down, at the moment.

The most practical and attention-demanding news is that there has been at least some research into the causes of claims, with results and indications which could and should enable a useful league table of primary causes.  There is however need and scope for something much more comprehensive and coordinated, with endorsement and publication by professional Bodies, Government and the Insurance industry itself, because it would cast vital perspective on the priorities as well as costs and dimensions of risks management and risk transference.

Anecdotally, most claims practitioners would probably expect file disorganisation and diary errors to be the leading cause of claims, at least numerically if not in terms of values lost; but modern IT processes and systemised procedures have reduced the proportion of exposures arising from practical mismanagements of that kind. Rather, the research to date shows that there are at least two other claim triggers which also demand close attention from top to bottom of every managerial chain:

  • Poor communication between professional service suppliers and their clients: Omissions, inaccuracies and obfuscations of information – about rights or opportunities; costs; processes; deployments; and projected aims and outcomes – time and again set the scene for client disappointment at best, and sometimes real or even catastrophic losses.
  • Inappropriate skills deployments: Professionals who take on work, or allow ‘mission creep’ of their engagement to extend to areas of work for which they, or more often their assigned employee/s, lack the experience, resources or expertise to do to a reasonable standard – which these days often means they will be judged against quite a specialised standard.

A third factor which also deserves much greater attention within every firm than it probably tends to be given at the moment is under-budgeting.  Every service supplier faces pressures to win work by offering to do it for less than it probably should cost. Sometimes that can be commercially sensible if the values at stake are tolerably low; but time and again, the relative risks are not measured, properly if at all, and nor are they sensibly compared. Failure to appreciate the full range, or most particularly the value, of the risks and pitfalls of a new task before it is taken on remains the real cause for hindsight regret underlying many claims, and real improvement on that score is where most gains or savings are likely to be achieved.

Mike Willis is Director of F Mike Willis Ltd Solicitors, professional risks solicitors. 

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Robe Off! The Entrepreneur Lawyer interviews The Entrepreneur Advocate

Posted on July 13th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

The Rise of SocialHuman Barrister? – Part 2 …

This article was first publishd in the Global Legal Post 13th July 2015 titled “Sinead King: Entrepreneur Advocate” and is reproduced with kind permission.

Barrister Sinead King of 36 Bedford Row talks to Chrissie Lightfoot about the skills required to operate as a barrister in today’s fast-moving business environment.

It’s time for barristers to de-robe and get with the programme, The Naked Lawyer author Chrissie Lightfoot maintains. But what does barrister Sinead King make of this new world and how is it impacting on her practice? 

CL: Is Direct Access a good thing for barristers?

SK: Yes and no. It’s not for every barrister. When dealing with members of the public, people often need to feel heard, and felt, before they feel ready to listen. When you have a solicitor maintaining the relationship, all we need to do as barristers is to collect the relevant facts, and give the relevant legal advice. But when you are dealing with a direct access client, you may have to spend quite some time listening to an account which is extremely emotionally important to your client, but legally irrelevant to their case.

I’d say a number of my profession don’t undertake direct access because they recognise they don’t have the patience to deal with that relationship building aspect of the business.  Our core skillset is forensic analysis and presentation. We’re good at rapidly dissecting large amounts of information and drilling down very quickly to the key points.  That puts us in a very good position to provide strategic information very cost effectively, and direct access allows us to market to a whole new client base.

For example, I work with Start Ups and SMEs. Often they don’t need a long term retainer, but what they do need is specialist advice at particular intervals of their expansion for a bit of light touch legal project management.

CL: What specifically can barristers do now that they couldn’t before?

SK: We don’t have to wait for a discrete legal issue to turn into a half million pound case before getting involved. For example, I increasingly find myself advising on what the terms of a contract mean for someone planning to expand their business: how much can they safely do under the contract and when do they have to renegotiate? What are the likely costs of getting that judgment wrong?

Nor do we have to wait for a solicitor to pick up the phone. At the moment, I and a more junior colleague are working together to represent an SME in the Mercantile Court in a large six figure case. Working as a team with the client, we can provide advisory services which allow the client to conduct its own litigation, whilst we can step in with settling statements, checking evidence, and drafting responses to the other side, as well as the usual representation in the hearing. The costs of employing a solicitor would be prohibitive for the client, but this way it’s got the specialist advice and presentation services it needs, without paying for those it doesn’t.

CL: What can’t they do, still?

SK: Some barristers undertake training which allows them to conduct litigation in exactly the same way as a solicitor, but I was always attracted to the fixing and problem-solving side of the profession, so I haven’t. So I can’t handle my client’s affairs or money, file documents at court, or instruct expert witnesses on my client’s behalf – but I can provide the advice that enables my clients to do so, and once I’ve given them the relevant information I find they’re usually pretty good at cracking on with doing the leg work themselves.

CL:  What changes do you feel need to be made to improve the situation for barristers and the client?

SK: Knowledge: often members of the public don’t understand how the law operates until something goes badly wrong. But used properly, law can be a safety net, a sword or a shield: a bit of timely advice can often mean that law can be something useful rather than something a client can only react against.

Conversely, the public don’t necessarily understand the limits of a court outcome.  Courts are concerned about what can be proved according to fixed evidential standards and what is legally relevant: and those standards don’t always correlate with the truth or the delivery of a fair outcome. Often, the solutions parties can carve out for themselves through negotiation are far better, and fairer. So being prepared to enter the process with a willingness to negotiate can go a long way to managing the process with realistic expectations.

CL: Does this mean the role and skill-set of the barrister will/has change(d)?

SK: There will always be a place for a traditional no-nonsense barrister – because the judiciary take most of their stock from that world, and if you can’t speak the language – and speak it not only fluently but also robustly – you’re unlikely to benefit your client when matters reach court.

We are a very old profession:  we still wear 18th century wigs and gowns, which doesn’t exactly convey a sense of 21st century relevance. But strip off the costume and at heart, a barrister is and has always been a legal expert, consultant, risk assessor, negotiator and courtroom fighter.  That role hasn’t changed – and if anything is even more relevant these days.

CL: How do you see the role of the barrister changing in months and years to come?

SK: I think we need to be more behaviourly multi-lingual. If we’re going to work with non-lawyers we need to learn to be both more soft-edged and business orientated in our dealings. Otherwise, we will be unable to build the relationships necessary to understand our clients, their motivations, or unlock the facts necessary to advise them properly – or win their cases.

CL: What should they be doing now?

SK: I think we need to continue to get the message out there about the options available for clients.  At even the most basic level, consumers, if they know what barristers are at all, tend to assume that they have to go through a solicitor, and we will be hugely expensive. Actually, because we tend to charge fixed rates for particular pieces of work, rather than an hourly rate, we’re often very cost effective.

CL: What kind of core skills should they focus on for the future?

SK: We still need the same core skills of analysis and presentation: that can’t and shouldn’t change. We are legal experts – we have the knowledge, the analytic tools and the day to day experience of taking things to trial and winning, and we shouldn’t be diluting these skills. But what we do need to do is ensure that we can use them in the most effective way for the benefit of our clients, and that means not simply assuming that clients will know what we do and come to us.

CL: Are barristers good at finding their own clients i.e. marketing and selling themselves to potential clients?

SK: Marketing as a business, and using the kind of tools of a 21st century business is still something of a novelty. We’re beginning to move in the right direction but it’s fair to say it’s been a slow start.

CL: What about you. How do you do it? 

SK: My role is as an entrepreneurial adviser, advocate and defender. Because I work with Start Ups and SMEs, it’s important that they can see me, understand what I do, and be confident that I talk the same language. I’m pretty active in social media, particularly twitter, as it’s an easy and very effective way of keeping in the loop with my target market.

CL: Is Direct Access a good thing for the public / businesses?

It’s a great thing. We offer a unique mix of cost effective practicality and expertise. A direct access barrister can take the case to trial, acting alone, with other barristers, or with paralegal support.  The reason you might want to have a solicitor involved is where the case is particularly paper heavy, the value of the claim is high, and you could use a solicitor’s firm to field offers and keep project management on track.

CL: What sets the SocialHuman Barrister apart from the traditional lawyer?

SK: I tend to work at the intersection of commercial, IP and employment law, and, quite apart from the ability to bounce between legal fields, my work often requires the ability to understand a situation in both legal and human terms.  The ability to look at a problem in several different dimensions – human, abstract, procedural, evidential – and to be able to switch gears is pretty important. I think clients tend to respond to the fact they know that I understand them, and their case, and I’ve got their back. Granville Barker once referred to “intellectual passion, that most un-English of virtues, ” which has always stuck: I’m curious and fascinated by ideas, designs and inventions, so working with my clients, who are often fearless creators, always feels like a privilege, and I think my enthusiasm and desire to protect them translates pretty well.

CL: Intellectual passion, that most un-English of virtues. So, there it is. As in law law land, so in barrister land. It’s time to ‘get naked’. If you don’t learn to be more soft-edged, enthusiastic, business orientated, behaviourly multi-lingual, understand a situation in both legal and human terms i.e. use all of your tools efficiently, switch gears and have the patience to deal with the relationship building aspect of the business and ROAR, you’re probably not going to make it as a SocialHuman barrister competing against the machines or your fellow humans, currently, or in the future.  There is one saving grace. If you dare to strip off your 18th century barrister robe and ‘get naked’, your role as a legal expert and courtroom fighter may just remain relevant, at least for now…

Missed part 1 of The Rise of SocialHuman barrister? Click here.

Chrissie Lightfoot is author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045. (published Nov 2014 ), and its prequel bestseller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! (Nov 2010). You can pick up her latest book today by emailing or call +44(0) 207 566 5792.

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Rise of SocialHuman Barrister?

Posted on July 11th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in the Global Legal Post on July 10th, 2015, and is reproduced with kind permission.

As cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and robots infiltrate the entire legal eco-system we ‘pure blood’ humans would fair best if we embraced the machine rather than resisted its march and looming dominance, even in the courtroom, says Chrissie Lightfoot.

Last week in the Global Legal Post I shared my vision, insights and opinion about why it is becoming increasingly necessary for all of us lawyers to become SocialHuman in order to future-proof our careers as cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and robots infiltrate the entire legal eco-system and make some of our roles obsolete. It is imminent.

The machine has already risen.

With the plethora of evidence to support the exponential rate of the inevitable rise of the machine, documented in my most recent articles and books, we ‘pure blood’ humans would do well to embrace the machine in a bid to serve our clients extraordinarily well, rather than resist its march and looming dominance as it begins to funnel its way up the legal intelligence vertical.

You may recall back in October 2011 the article iCyborg Lawyer wherein I shared the view that legal provision, productivity and primary skills fall into four areas:

1.  IT-based – commoditised;

2.  artificial intelligence (AI);

3.  advocacy; and

4.  judgement.

Arguably, the first two areas above have superseded the ‘grunt work’ traditionally carried out by trainees and junior lawyers already in the traditional law firm. It is now the daily grind realm of paralegals and/or junior lawyers (to some extent the associates too) overseeing and utilising the ‘machine system’ in order to maximise productivity. The last two areas, however, are associated more with the senior associate level and upwards in a traditional law firm, and the kind of legal work regularly carried out by solicitor advocates and barristers.

‘Phew’, no doubt is the cry of the more senior solicitors, partners, solicitor advocates and barristers; ‘we’re safe for now’, you’re no doubt thinking.

Not so. BEWARE.

The time is fast approaching too when even your cherished role and skill-set will come under attack by a machine that will be far quicker and more intelligent than you which will even be able to reason and judge; we’re talking a handful of years away here, not decades. We’re talking about a machine thinking, not just doing.

As I have said before, as we lawyers become marginalized by the machine, our role and value will be in extolling expert niche specialism and experience, delivering extraordinary customer service with exceptional emotional intelligence (EI), and being uniquely human. This is something AI and machines will not be able to provide, for a while.

Accordingly, I believe that barristers too will not be immune to the rise of the machines.

Which then made me ponder:

• Is the Bar, with its rich repository of specialist knowledge and experience which has never been more easily accessible for businesses and individuals alike due to Direct Access, truly ready for the Robotic Age?

• Do barristers have the right skill sets currently and in the future?

Revamping direct access

I was pleased to read earlier this week that the Bar Council launched its revamped direct access website. The portal acts as an online register of barristers qualified to take instructions direct from laypeople and is pitched at clients looking to avoid going through solicitors. No doubt this move will “ratchet up antagonism between the two main branches of the legal profession” wrote the author of the feature. The comments at the foot of the article evidenced exactly this.

I am at a loss to think as to why solicitors begrudge their fellow esteemed barrister colleagues competing with them directly for clients. After all, solicitors in one firm compete with solicitors in another firm directly for clients all of the time (and have done since the legal profession here in the UK kicked off 800 years ago), so why not barristers?

And let’s face it, solicitors ought to have an advantage over barristers in attracting clients direct as solicitors are, supposedly, more ‘experienced’ at schmoozing prospective and existing clients. This is, of course, moot. Many solicitors are by no means exceptionally conversant in SocialHuman Lawyering any more than the SocialHuman barrister might well be.

My understanding is that until recently, the Bar Council regulation was that the clerk of a barristers chambers or a solicitor had to refer the new client to the barrister; effectively the barristers didn’t need to do any marketing or rainmaking personally – it was done for them.  But now, due to Direct Access – the system under which members of the public can work with barristers directly, instead of through an intermediary solicitor – it strikes me that this is a really good thing for clients as:

a) the use of a direct access barrister resonates with the core principles by which a client business operates or an individual expects: excellence of service combined with delivery on time at the lowest possible price (says Alistair MacDonald QC, chairman of the Bar);

b) the specialist advocate provides better value for them; and

c) they have more choice.

On the subject of direct access Sinead King, barrister at 36 Bedford Row, London UK – you may recall I mentioned Sinead in an article –  Knowing me, knowing you –  last week as a sterling example of a SocialHuman professional – commented:  “The Bar Council is learning to be a bit less apologetic about marketing direct access. The fear is that doing so aggressively will antagonise instructing solicitors.”

Pah! Get on with it, I say. Fear not. All members of the legal profession – whether trainee solicitor, trainee barrister, paralegal, legal executive, associate solicitor, senior associate, solicitor advocate, partner, director, barrister, QC; have I forgotten anyone? – will soon come to realise that the threat (competing for clients and for our jobs) does not lie amongst our differing levels, titles and branches of human legal providers; it will revolve around us humans competing against the machine directly for clients and jobs.

In the meantime, the good news is that there are forward-looking ‘entreprenurial barristers’ just as there are ‘entrepreneurial solicitors’; both are quite happy to work with direct access barristers and to cross refer – or are very open to cross referring once they’re aware of the potential to deliver legal services through smart transactions. As Sinead says: “On a positive note, there’s a fair amount of cross referral: a solicitor might send a client my way for direct access advice on a discrete legal matter, because it’s a cost effective way of proceeding.  Equally, where a case is complex and needs bodies on the ground to keep on track, I will often refer it to a solicitor I know is going to offer a decent service, to give the client the best chance of getting a good outcome, knowing that if they can’t settle I can come back in at a later stage to slug it out in court.”

Having already met with Sinead King – The Entrepreneur Advocate – previously and being impressed by her natural ROAR approach (ROAR being an acronym for Reach Out And Relate), I was intrigued to learn more about what Sinead, as a barrister, thinks about Direct Access and what she believes it will take to become SocialHuman Barrister. I posed a number of questions to her, the answers to which I shall share with you in the follow-up article Robe Off: The Entrepreneur Lawyer meets The Entrepreneur Advocate.

Chrissie Lightfoot is author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045. (published Nov 2014 ), and its prequel bestseller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! (Nov 2010). You can pick up her latest book today by emailing or call +44(0) 207 566 5792.


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