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Indie Lawyer of the Future

Submitted by Lucy Jewel on Tue, 07-22-2014
Long title
The Indie Lawyer of the Future? How Internet Culture, Technology and Modified Ethics Rules Might Produce a New, Sustainable Form of Lawyering
Jewel, Lucy
Author(s)' contact information
University of Tennessee, USA
Conference title
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location
City University London
United States
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In this paper, I explore how Internet culture and technology have the potential to open up innovative pathways for individual lawyers representing individual clients in a cooperative (rather than competitive) setting. Seeking to capture demand from long tail markets, helping to build a new “sharing” economy, or utilizing new technology to create progressive alternatives to litigation represent new possibilities for sole practitioners and lawyers practicing in small sized firms – “indie” lawyers. Despite the move toward the mass commodification of many law products, the indie lawyer of the future is still a craft-oriented lawyer, producing bespoke legal products, and is still directly connected (even if separated by geography) in a fiduciary relationship with his or her client.
This paper looks to cultural forces that are driving new sustainable ways of doing business. For instance, the concept of the sharing economy has generated alternative approaches to legal concepts such as property (i.e., the commons) and work (i.e., co-ops). Into this mix, there is a need for lawyers who can navigate these new forms and tap into new markets for legal services.
In order to foster this potentially transformative style of lawyering, this article argues for changes in U.S. legal ethics rules, allowing multi-jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary legal businesses and permitting lawyers to directly solicit clients.
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