Back in July 2016 I was very fortunate to speak at the Do Lectures. It's a remarkable place and a huge privilege to have been asked to speak at the farm in West Wales. I was asked to tell the story of why I had chosen to start a law firm. In doing so I referenced sources of inspiration. I'm fascinated by explorers and pioneers. Fascinated about what drives them to push the boundaries of the known, to challenge and change the status quo. I talked about Shackleton, Martin Luther King, my Dad and Elon Musk.
Elon Musk was talking about doing something remarkable back in 2016. It was all to do with batteries. Grey boxes with two black wires. It seems that in the 4 years since I spoke at the Do Lectures, Elon has got quite a bit further with his mission. We are on the brink of battery technology that can replace fossil fuels. That will accelerate change in so many areas of our lives and in the words of Citizen Smith may actually bring "power to the people". No grid - solar panels, your own batteries. Just imagine for one moment the scale of what can be done with the development of battery technology.
These past 4 years I have not managed to move the needle of the dial on change in legal services as far as I would like. I'm slightly comforted by the fact that Bill Gates suggests measuring change by looking back 10 years - but only slightly comforted.
Right now though the opportunity to create lasting change in how law firms operate is palpable. Yes, it's driven by the awful pandemic. Many lawyers are realising their business models don't serve their needs or their clients. The benefits of flexibility in working location are clear - even more so when school's return for lawyer parents. Many are reluctant to spend the time and money commuting and are now seeking a hybrid of flexible location options. All putting pressure on fixed overheads in office-based firms.
For Elon Musk to change battery technology and it to be described as a grey box with two wires belies the complexity and invention required. The re-imagining of how a law firm works will require the same ingenuity and I, for one, am "up fot it". I believe the platform is to the law firm model as the battery is to the energy market. A chance for real, lasting change with many benefits to both the sellers and buyers of legal services alike.
PS - The Do Lectures was founded by David and Claire Hieatt alongside their jeans business Hiut Denim. Their newsletters are brilliant and I recommend signing up - not least because their newsletter led me to this BBC News story and that in turn inspired me to write this blog. Credit where credit is due!
At that point you start to get electric vehicles that are cheaper than the equivalent internal combustion vehicles," says Seth Weintraub, a US battery technology journalist. Once that happens the internal combustion engine will be effectively dead., he says, comparing it to how digital killed off film cameras a decade ago.