Added25th October 2013 by Riverview LawRiverview Law

The British are coming – with Sports Mixtures – what would The New Yorker say?

I couldn’t resist tweeting, while our plane was prevented from leaving its stand by torrential rain, that we were on our way to support @RiverviewLawUS as it continued its work converting our US cousins. I burst out laughing as almost immediately I was greeted with a ‘The British are coming’ response from a US commentator. Don’t you just love Twitter. Given the scrutiny my passport got at Border Control these Tweets were clearly being monitored by the US authorities … and the ABA? However, the customs official finally let me through when my answer to what felt like his forty-ninth question – “So what does your business do?” – was “We make it cheaper and easier to get high quality legal advice.” He directed me on my way with a smile saying “Anyone who can sort lawyers out is fine by me, welcome to America.” Well, his words were actually a little less diplomatic than this but you get the sentiment. After much laughter and many intense, challenging and engaging discussions with lawyers, businesses, law school deans, law students, academics and commentators, the trip ended in New York, via Boston and a 90 minute meeting with London on Cisco Telepresence. Scarily (be very scared Riverview Law team) it left me even more excited about the global opportunities in the legal market and the impact technology will have on the delivery of professional services. We may be getting an Ice Cream fridge following the visit to Jorma Vartia of Fondia but I really want a Cisco Telepresence system for Riverview Law – brilliant technology. There were many stand-out moments during the trip; forgetting where we’d parked the car, getting a parking ticket, driving out of a service station with a drink on the roof, talking on a mobile phone in the Yale club … But the big take-away for me was the strategic drivers behind the trends in the US and UK legal markets. Much of the US market, including many law schools, is clearly unaware of the ABS revolution that’s happening ‘across the Pond’. They have no idea of its likely impact, and probably think that a combination of the ABA, Border Control and the Atlantic Ocean are enough to shield the US legal market from the increased competition emerging. The flipside is that there’s a lot more technological innovation in the US (just look at what Cisco and our partner Legal OnRamp have and are doing!). It’s easy for us, and I include Riverview Law in the ‘us’ (and we think we’re quite advanced), to overlook what’s happening in this space. I think the technology trend will ultimately prove to be at least as important as the regulatory changes occurring. I was invigorated by what I saw and heard. However, above everything else the trip reminded me just how poor American ‘candy’ is when compared with British sweets. Biting into a US Twix was, let me be charitable, disappointing. Trying their equivalent of our Sports Mixtures was nothing short of horrible. When I expressed such views, politely of course, and when I extolled the virtues of OUR sweets (I became very patriotic), my American hosts, Paul Lippe of Legal On-Ramp and Steve Harmon of Cisco, thought I was ‘exaggerating’, although they used more colourful language at the time, suggesting that I should not judge American cuisine from our Masspike rest-stop experience! But, a mouthful of Sports Mixtures later (I had a couple of bags in my case for emergency breakfast purposes) and their journey to the promised land had started. You’ll be pleased to know, and would expect nothing else given our traditional English hospitality, that as part of our on-going missionary services to our US brethren we’re assembling a sweet parcel so that they know what they are missing!  It’s always great to be home – I love touching down in England – but I learnt so much, in such a short time, that the next longer trip to the US is already being planned. A visit during which I will try and blag my way into the pages of the New Yorker with an interview on the health and well-being benefits of English sweets – particularly Sports Mixtures as part of a balanced diet. After all, many lawyers would say I know more about sweets than legal services. Some would say such an article would raise the standard of journalism in the New Yorker. I couldn’t possibly comment!

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