I am pleased to announce the creation of the Law 2050 blog, a forum for envisioning the future of law, legal practice, and legal education. My shorthand term for this endeavor is “legal futurism.” Legal futurism primarily considers questions such as: How will climate change influence property law? How will liability law respond to robotics and human bioengineering? How will energy regulation law need to change to accommodate a renewable energy future? Legal futurism draws from nonlegal disciplines such as scenario planning and change forecasting to focus on the social, economic, technological, and environmental forces of the future that will put pressure on law to change and will open up new legal opportunities. Legal futurism is thus both theoretical (what might law look like in 2050) and practical (how do lawyers participate in that legal future).
Although the focus of Law 2050 is primarily on the future of law and legal systems, it will also cover important events and news regarding the future of legal practice and legal education. The evolution of law influences the evolution of legal practice, and vice versa. And legal education had better keep its eyes on both processes to stay useful and relevant.
As a legal educator, the legal future of most concern to me is the time span of my students’ careers–thus the 2050. As a former practicing lawyer, I experienced rapid change in my field–environmental law–in just one decade of practice. New lawyers looking ahead to a career of 30 to 40 years must anticipate the possibility of sea changes in their chosen fields as climate change, globalization, technological advancements, demographic shifts, and other forces put stress on existing legal doctrine and demand new legal approaches. The most successful lawyers participate in those processes and take anticipatory steps to adapt rather than passively watching them happen and responding only reactively. I am hopeful that law students and legal practitioners of all career stages will participate actively in Law 2050.
I also hope that Law 2050 will become an active forum for legal academics to explore and debate theories of legal change, both generally and in specific fields, looking well into the future. No theory of law or legal systems can be complete without accounting for change. Many legal academics are already immersed in the dynamic legal issues being driven by climate change, the internet, Big Data, genetic engineering, and other hot topics of the day. What are the hot topics of the future, and how should law respond to them? I hope Law 2050 will stimulate this discussion.