What is the difference between a robot and a lawyer? The answer is not a joke, and may soon be a matter of great urgency for attorneys, as the legal field attempts to adjust to disruptive technologies that are likely to permanently alter the way that law is practiced throughout the United States. The consequences for failing to adjust to technological disruption for any industry, as demonstrated in recent years by big-name, bankrupt companies, can be disastrous. Legal tools found in chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code are largely intended to assist debtors in reorganizing their business affairs, preserving value by shedding unprofitable business activities and redirecting resources to more profitable venues. However, these tools grow less effective as companies become more insolvent, and catching up on technological advancement becomes more difficult the farther a company falls behind. Law firms face an additional incentive to adjust to technology early; although they may file for bankruptcy like other businesses, they have historically struggled to reorganize due in large part to the ability and propensity of firm asset-the attorneys themselves-to simply leave the company. Accordingly, law firms, faced with an array of new and disruptive technologies, should draw on the lessons of prior industry failures and make adjustments swiftly, before finding themselves "technically" bankrupt.
Brook E. Gotberg,
Technically Bankrupt, 48 Seton Hall Law Review 111
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/facpubs/801