Friday, 19 October 2012

Guest Blog: Re-Imagining Law (and Law School) Thanks To Twitter

Pat Ellis, a second year student at Michigan State's School of Law, talks about how Twitter has changed his experience of Law School and his career ambitions.


Pat Ellis who is in his second year of Law School 
For any of you who witnessed the recent Red Bull Stratos Space Jump, my entry into the “Twittersphere” was similar to the ascent of Felix Baumgartner’s balloon and capsule: painfully slow. In fact, I actually made an account, tried to work it for a week, and then deleted it. I was nervous and had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even have a photo or a bio! Lost and disgruntled that my only followers seemed to be pornographic spammers, I denounced Twitter and quit. 


I recently, however, changed my perspective on Twitter. As a law student in the States, I have developed an interest in the future of legal services, a movement that has been described by some as the “re-invention of law” or the “re-imagination of law.” After reading Susskin’s book The End of Lawyers, a kind of Bible for legal industry progressives, I realized that there is boundless opportunity for future practitioners to join this movement toward the future of the legal industry.  I also came to discover that if I was going to be a part of this movement, I needed to become fluent in the language of “ReInvent” and become comfortable in communicating through the mediums that my peers and mentors used: social media.

With that in mind, I also decided I might as well kill two birds with one stone. As a member of the Michigan State Law Review, I have been set on a quest to write a scholarly Note on a legal topic. Seems simple, but one of the requirements of writing a Note is that you, a second-year law student, must choose a topic that is both fascinating to you (because you will be spending the better part of two semesters working on it), and obscure. The first requirement is easy: I practically change my mind about what kind of law I want to practice on a daily basis. This is not because I dislike several areas of practice, but because I like everything. Seriously, I like everything. I like criminal law. I like family law. I like banking law. Banking law…hmmm.

Two months ago, when I had to choose a topic for my Note, I liked banking law so much, that I decided I would write a scholarly contribution to the world of banking law:  Risk, Religion, and Regulation - Derivatives Market Oversight in Conventional and Islamic Finance. That was the working title and working topic of my Note; until about two weeks ago.  Ridiculous.

After turning in my first outline, complimented by twenty-five scholarly sources, I changed my mind. I didn’t change my mind because I didn’t like my topic. In fact, I liked Islamic derivatives so much, that I practically learned Arabic and Black-Scholes equations just so I could write the damn Note.  Instead, however, I thought I could write something better; something more meaningful to me.

Now I am writing my Note about the intersection of Twitter and the future of legal practice. I don’t want to elaborate on my thesis much more than that (for now), but I can tell you that I am enjoying doing my research on Twitter a hell of a lot more than I enjoyed reading IMF working papers on the developments of futures exchanges in Malaysia. For my paper (as well as my future career), I created a Twitter account and, this time, did it right: added a photo, created a bio, and engaging other Tweeters. Since then, I have taken the step off of that proverbial Red Bull capsule and embarked on a free-fall through the Twittersphere. In just two weeks, I have learned more than I thought I would learn in months; I have communicated with legal professionals in different countries; and I have even made a few friends along the way. As the days pass, I can see the importance of developing a strong social media presence. Whether you are a student or a seasoned attorney, Twitter is a vital tool of communication, networking, and learning.  

3 comments:

  1. this is such a great idea!! let us know how it turns out!! you seem like you have a great topic developing here!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really can't wait to read the Note!

    #reimaginelaw

    ReplyDelete

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