What are the top three books a lawyer should read in the course of his/her career?

British scientist, James Lovelock’s, new book Novacene in which he thinks ‘Our supremacy as the prime understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to end. The understanders of the future will not be humans but what [he calls] “cyborgs” that will have designed and built themselves.’

Richard Susskind’s Future of the Legal Profession. Start embracing technology fast as Susskind predicts a decade of legal change to old ways of working.

Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated making every aspect of our lives more streamlined the legal world is wrestling with how best to regulate it. Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism talks about behavioural surplus which is traded for profit. Zuboff argues that Google was unique in building a sustained billion dollar business around the insights into our future behaviour based on our past searches. The law is in danger of being outrun and out spent by these tech giants. Lord Sales, Justice of the UK Supreme Court, while delivering the Sir Henry Brooke Lecture for BAILII, ‘Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and the Law’ likened this dilemma to the ‘frog in hot water effect’ saying:

‘We need to think now about the implications of making human lives subject to these processes, for fear of the frog in hot water effect. We, like the frog, sit pleasantly immersed in warm water with our lives made easier in various ways by information technology. But the water imperceptibly gets hotter and hotter until we find we have gone past a crisis point and our lives have changed irrevocably, in ways outside our control and for the worse, without us even noticing. The water becomes boiling and the frog is dead.’

What do you hope to see in the next Litigation newsletter?

Sandrine Giroud and I as Co-Editors have started a Diversity series seeking to share inspiration about what our fellow litigators were doing to promote diversity. The aim was to dismantle frontiers and help promote equity and inclusion at all levels within the profession. I hope this series continues not least I hope to gain inspiration for my new role as Brown Rudnick’s equity, inclusion and diversity (EID) partner alongside with my New York partner, Chelsea Mullarney. We take over this important role from our Boston partner Sunni Beville as she has now been promoted to Managing Director of Dispute Resolution & Restructuring. The firm’s EID initiatives include Social Mobility Fellowship (open to law students who are the first in their families to graduate from college), ‘On Ramp’ fellowship (which supports experienced lawyers who are committed to returning to work after a career break), and Adoption Benefits.

Who was a great mentor to you?

My grandmother, Midge, who was hugely energetic, rarely fazed by life’s challenges (and she lived in London through two World Wars), very independent and flexible in her thinking. Midge was a super role model/mentor as to how to live well. She lived until she was over 102 attributing her longevity to laughing a lot. I attribute it in part to that but also to her ‘can do’ spirit and her curiosity in life.

What do you say to people you mentor?

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Be persistent. Seize and create opportunities rather than waiting to be given them. Work with a business coach so you allocate time to thinking about your career path and life plan. Don’t let someone else write your narrative.

If you had a spare half an hour in a city what would you do first?

Enjoy a good coffee on the way to the city’s art gallery and/or a run (ideally with my IBA run club buddies – see recent photo, above).

 

This article was first published in the IBA Litigation Committee newsletter in May 2020, and is reproduced by kind permission of the International Bar Association, London, UK. © International Bar Association.