I have been remiss in failing to post about this year’s Law 2050 class, which like past years has been a blast. The most important task I should take care of first is to thank the guest speakers and panelists you have enriched the class so far this semester.
- Each year I start out the class in the first week with two lectures, one providing an overview of the legal industry’s “post-normal” times and the next providing a brief history of the American law firm (1650-2015). This year, Hank Heyming, a Vandy alum and General Counsel of UpThere, sat in on the law firm history lecture and offered his insights, which were spot on.
- The second week of the class each year has been framed around two panels, the first composed of law firm leaders and the next day’s panel composed of in-house counsel leaders. This year’s panels did not fail to capture the students’ attention! For law firm leaders we had John Herman of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, John-Paul Motley of O’Melveny & Meyers, and Rita Powers of Greenberg Traurig. Our in-house team was Louise Brock of Bridgestone America, Chris Howard of Acadia Healthcare, and Louise Rankin of American Baptist Homes of the West. The two panels provided plenty of topics for later class discussion.
- In Week 4 this year we had a chance to get a primer on big data, machine learning, and natural language processing from John Nay, a PhD student in Vandy’s Computational Decision Science program and co-founder (with Oliver Goodenough of Vermont Law School and me) of PredictGov, a new legal tech startup.
- James Mackler of Frost Brown Todd gave a repeat performance in Week 5 of his inspirational story of building a successful drone law practice from scratch in the past several years. James is a classic example of the “jump in” message I used as the central theme of my 2016 Vandy Law School graduation commencement address. It was amazing to see how much the drone law space has evolved in just one year and how James has kept pace.
- To round out the first half of the semester, we heard about the innovative fixed-fee reverse auction program Glaxco Smith Kline has developed over the past several years to retain law firms for large pieces of litigation. To explain how it works from both perspectives we had Andy Bayman and Mike Duffy of King & Spalding, one of GSK’s long-standing outside law firms, and Brennan Torregrossa and Justin Ergler of GSK. The discussion centered around the realignment of incentives the fixed-fee and reverse auction approach has produced.
Law 2050 would not work without the devotion of these and many other of my guest speakers over the years. I cannot thank you enough!
More posts soon on my students’ innovative topics for their writing projects and the remaining lineup of this semester’s speakers.