The Joys Of Long Beginnings In Law And Technology


globe globalization world tech technologyMy colleague is excited about taking the International Association of Privacy Professionals exam. “I can’t wait to practice in today’s exciting, fast-developing privacy world!” she said. 

“Uh … wasn’t privacy new and exciting like 20 years ago?” I asked.

Then my husband pointed out that privacy will matter for hundreds if not thousands of years. “In the grand scheme of things, we are still at the beginning, especially with technology,” he said.

Beginnings are long — very long, my friends.

Legal professionals are still beginning the long process of understanding and using technologies that change our relationships with each other, businesses, and the rule of law in various ways. We’re all still learning to make sense of new tech-enhanced legal spaces. But there’s so much to love because all you need to join a beginning is a willingness to adapt. 

There’s So Much To Love About Long Beginnings

Some lawyers worry they are late to the blockchain party after missing out on a few initial waves. But that’s the beauty of long beginnings: it’s never too late to jump in and swim with the flow. (And you are definitely not late to blockchain adventures.) 

Enjoy the beginning because there are no lines to stand in or clubs to join here. Perfection is a distant ideal. Enter the conversation, the market, a community, or a company in any way your skill sets enable you to contribute. Embrace your peers and mentors. Ask and answer questions. Share ideas and resources.

You’ll get plenty of opportunities to pivot. Mistakes are often preferred in the early days, as they can lead to discoveries. They can drive us to pivot here or there or to continue on our current path bolstered by our newfound knowledge and confidence. 

Beginnings bring the novelty of new interests and thoughts amid the unfamiliarity of a fresh experience. You’ll likely need to guess as you go — the opposite of what law school teaches us to do. 

Raising your tech competence can help alleviate that fish-out-of-water feeling. Lawyers don’t have to code or become technologists with a capital T. But we should understand how technology impacts our work and the legal aspects of our client businesses. 

At the same time, we must get comfortable with long periods of uncertainty. Regulations on technological advancements will arrive eventually. Then, the unfamiliar will be ours to navigate and make sense of again. This is what it means to practice law today. 

Partner with technologists to make sense of new areas. Left alone, lawyers discussing technology and the law can drift into abstract philosophy in three seconds. Technologists keep our discussions practical and rooted in how things actually work.

There are many ways to contribute initially, even if you don`t have the title or skills yet. I know a few lawyers who enjoy not having fancy titles or certifications because they get to enjoy the beginning stage longer. 

Stay as long as you like and pivot whenever you want to wherever you want. That’s another benefit of practicing law today. 

Are you at the beginning of a new area of law? 

Do you collaborate with technologists on new projects?

Where are you in your career journey?

Olga MackLexisNexis and CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and had dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She founded the Women Serve on Boards movement that advocates for women to participate on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. She authored Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board SeatFundamentals of Smart Contract Security, and  Blockchain Value: Transforming Business Models, Society, and Communities. She is working on Visual IQ for Lawyers, her next book (ABA 2023). You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.

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