Doing law: "Finding what's right"

Addressing a December audience of attorneys gathered in San Diego, professor Stephen Burbank of the University of Pennsylvania Law School used a Thomas Friedman column to make a point about innovation. "Whatever can be done, will be done,” Friedman said.

But will it be done to you or by you?

Burbank suggested that, like the auto industry, innovation could overtake business as usual in the practice of law. And at least one other attendee, American Lawyer reported, agreed.

'Lawyers are harder to change than car executives. They’re trained to find things wrong with a new system....' Fred Bartlit, who left Kirkland & Ellis 16 years ago to found a nontraditional firm, stressed that lawyers' behavior can only be understood by examining the science of paradigm shifts. 'The last to change are the ones who were best at the old system.'

Having been in quite a few business meetings, Bartlit's quote reminded me of the person who has five reasons why an idea will never work, and, miraculously, none for why it might. It also brought to mind the an old IF post drawn from the Rotman School of Management's outstanding magazine, Rotman.

Any competent analyst can identify constraints, but what about the possibilities? Can he find what's right?