Thursday, 3 October 2013

Anne-Marie Slaughter - The changing parameters of law and business

In the Harvard Business Review here, Anne-Marie Slaughter said of law firms and the law of change:
"This fracturing and reorienting is happening in the corporate world as well. Turn to manufacturing and note that supply chains first shifted from vertical to horizontal, in-house to global. Then they moved from chains of contracted suppliers to networks of peer producers. Boeing refers to its global "value webs," an approach that turns managers into systems integrators. Large factoring companies assemble networks of designers and producers; they look for "network orchestrators." And as many companies begin outsourcing at least parts of their R&D, they are creating space for professional "inventers" operating through websites like Innocentive. 
When I was in law school in the 1980s one of my favorite professors pointed out that the entire world of law was being turned upside down by the advent of Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw on line. For generations West Publishing Company had published all U.S. cases and had decided how to organize them in meta-categories such as torts, contracts, civil procedure, criminal law, property, etc., and sub-categories within each of those. Those were the fields of law — as taught, practiced, studied. With the advent of Boolean online searching, however, a researcher could suddenly find all cases of every type pertaining to horses, or basketball, or diamond necklaces. Law could be divided and sub-divided in an infinite number of categories, depending on what was actually useful to lawyers, judges, clients, and anyone else creating value out of legal texts. 
Something similar is happening to all our professions. Information and communications technology is blowing the old categories into bits. But countless new jobs will be created connecting those bits in unexpected but useful ways. And who better to name them than you?"

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