On September 16, 2016 in Seyfarth Shaw’s Chicago office, legal professionals joined together to reimagine, rethink and redesign the legal workplace. During the half-day event, we explored the question: How can we create a more inclusive, accessible and human-friendly workplace for legal professionals?

We brought together key stakeholders and created a space where a radically different way of thinking is possible. It was an opportunity for lawyers, law students, architects and entrepreneurs had an opportunity to share, connect and innovate. The attendees themselves were empowered to come up with topics that were to be discussed. This included redesigning the office space to make it more inviting for both clients and the attorneys who work there, replacing the billable hour with new and more transparent billing methods that encourage collaboration, and working with law schools to revamp the profession and make it better for future generations. 

What is an Unconference?

An unconference is a participant-driven meeting that emphasizes the informal exchange of information and ideas, rather than following a conventionally structured program of events. Instead of having predetermined speakers or session topics, the participants shape the agenda themselves at the beginning of the unconference and share information and ideas in a more decentralized fashion. It's a way to foster and boos the impact of “hallway magic.”

Unconferences originated in the technology sector, but have since been used in a variety of professional fields. Unconferences have not yet caught on among lawyers, but Shape the Law is changing that. 

The Chicago event was an opportunity to cross-pollinate: learn what others are doing, what works and what doesn't and see if others' strategies can be adapted to your situation. 

The legal profession is on the brink of unprecedented change; we need to shape the future of our profession through innovative programs that maximize creativity and knowledge sharing.
We have been talking about rethinking the billable hour for 10 years. It’s time for a change. The billable hour discourages collaboration. Eliminating it would benefit lawyers and their clients.