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F-22 Lawyers: Pilots for a New Age

by Larry Bridgesmith, JD | CEO of Legal Alignment

The analogy is so apt. I owe Wade Sims credit for sharing it with me. Wade is a 2014 graduate of Belmont School of Law here in Nashville. He is one of the new breed of lawyers that knows as much technology as he does law. Because he is an intellectual property lawyer that is a good thing.

Last weekend I was teaching the Vanderbilt Law School CLE course in Legal Project Management. To make a point of comparison, Wade suggested a metaphor for Today's Lawyers. He said they must become like F-22 fighter pilots.

The analogy was lost on me until Wade explained that one of the world's most speedy, maneuverable and lethal war planes is the F-22 Raptor. Built by Lockheed-Martin, the F-22 is aerodynamically unsuited for flight. Especially at supersonic speeds and in wartime conditions, the F-22 is less than fully air worthy. Like the bumblebee, it shouldn't be able to fly.

However, in high performance mode the F-22 is built with Stealth technology and served by highly developed avionics that convert aerodynamic instability into an extremely effective warplane as flight conditions change instant by instant. Without technology, the F-22 is a $400 million piece of air junk. That's over $400,000,000.00 per plane.

Nor can the F-22 fly without a pilot. Highly skilled pilots are needed to take the F-22 to peak performance.

The F-22 can't fly without avionics and it can't fly without a pilot. One account notes:

"Stability is the resistance to change. The more stable you are, the harder it is to

turn/pitch quickly in a dynamic situation."

That's the story of Tomorrow's Lawyer. Law can't be practiced without a lawyer and a lawyer can't practice without advanced technology. Either without the other is woefully inadequate in our exponential age. Our craving for stability is our greatest enemy in times of radical change.

As legal tech continues to heat up in terms of variety, sophistication and capability, lawyers are able to become more robust and formidable in their ability to practice law. As lawyers become more tech savvy, their value to the client continues to escalate. They can do law better, faster, cheaper with constantly increasing quality, price predictability and profitably.

Far too much of our thinking is terminal either/or dualism. The digital age requires us to become both/and performers possessed of our unique human capabilities combined with the exponential processing speed of computers.

I'll put my money on the F-22 lawyer every time.

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