"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn".
In the world of futurist, Alvin Toffler, along with his wife Heidi, represent the proverbial 800 pound gorilla. Above are a couple of his statements to which you should take to heart.
In 1980, while I was attending college at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, Alvin Toffler released his book The Third Wave. Following up on his book Future Shock, it was a book that profoundly changed my outlook on the World and my future in it.
Before there were personal computers on every desk, table and lap, and before there was wide knowledge of the Internet, Toffler predicted the digital revolution, the communications revolution, the corporate revolution and technological singularity. This later term represents an "event horizon" in which the predictability of human technological development extends past that which present models of the future cease to give us predicability or accurate answers. This is followed by strong increases in artificial intelligence and an amplification of human intelligence.
Toffler's book described three different types of societies, which he referred to as "waves". Each of these waves pushes the older societies and cultures aside. The First Wave, which has long been pushed aside for most of us, is the society established after the agrarian revolution, which replaced the first hunter-gatherer cultures.
The Second Wave, in which many of America's people are still floundering, is represented by what has been called the "industrial revolution". The main components of the Second Wave are the nuclear family, factory-type eduction, and the corporation, all of which are based upon standardization, centralization, concentration and synchonization, and bureaucracy.
The Third Wave is upon us and is also refered to as the "post-industrial" society and the "information age". This society is represented by "subcults" or diverse lifestyles, "adhocracies" or fluid organizations that adapt quickly to change, and where information begins to substitute for most material resources. As to the later point, information becomes the main material for workers, each of which are only loosely affiliated. Mass production is replaced by mass customization; offering personalized and cheaper goods, services. Most importantly the gap between what has been producers and consumers begins to be bridged by technology creating a class of "prosumers" that can fill the own needs. We see this today in the way of open source software, assembly kit furniture, and freelance work, such as legal services.
The test of time has shown Alvin Toffler to be mainly right in his predictions. Nowhere, I believe, is this more profound than in the practice of law, the type or style of which I and others have decided to pursue. Hence, I have taken the liberty of coining our type of firm as "Third Wave law firms" or "Third Wave practices". We work from our homes or from cubicles or small shared offices free from the confines of standardization, centralization, concentration, synchonization and bureaucracy, which has primarily contributed to the disatisfaction of lawyers with the practice of law. We live, support and fight for diverse lifestyles. We do not employ other lawyers or staff so much as we operate within these adhocracies or fluid organizations in which we as attorneys and firms come together only to work on specific cases or tasks. In other words, we are freelancers. We survive not on libraries, expensive associates, in-house computer systems, and highrise offices of marble and mahogany, but off the Internet, online research, and information. In short, we do what attorneys were programned to do -- we collect information, process information, analyze information, repackage information, and sell it in packages or in a means to make the lives of ordinary people and organizations better. Shorter still, Third Wave law firms and lawyers provide personalization and mass customization of the law for the consumer or prosumer in a more cost effective manner.
How you might ask how this is possible, and/or how may I establish a Third Wave law firm?
First, refuse to maintain traditional offices that most consumers typically associate with law firms. Eliminate all waiting rooms for clients to cool their heals; get rid of the receptionist area in which to ignore the client; empty all meeting rooms used for client visits; go paperless and close the file room in which to lose files; forego all of your printed texts and shut down your law library, get rid of you messy private office and move home; remove your licenses and diplomas from the wall (after all we hang these only to impress ourselves), quit going to the law firm rec room to chat with staff over coffee and donuts, and, remove your shingle from all buildings. You must start going about your business from where you are..wherever you are...everywhere you are. As an attorney you must refuse to be confined by time, space and the restrictions that a typical law office employs. Finally, you have got to fire or redirect your palace guards that are keeping you broke and away from the consumer. Start answering your own phones, read and respond to your own email, faxes and mail, and maintain your own schedule.
How do you, as a Third Wave law firm, accomplish such a thing?
You've got to be the king of the Internet. You have got to use email, Internet telephony, Internet faxing, electronic case filing, and Internet research, both to and from computers and other devices. ( If you are already doing so you must certainly have figured out by now that you do not need all of these other people and offices to make a good living for yourself). There is virtually no one that cannot be reached, and no document that cannot be received or delivered, by phone, fax, email or (if no other alternative) mail any place in the State of Texas or the world. By staying connected you can tear down the barriers that keep you from our clients and their objective. Hence, customization, personalization, leads to a job well done and it is rewarded.
If you have already taken a step to creating a Third Wave law firm or practice, I will ask you to email me and let me know. I would like to communicate with you and feature you on this blawg site.