Let me start by saying I have been wrong about the future, at least in the recent past. I will get to a few examples shortly, simply to secure my reputation that I am not a perfect futurist. Like other futurists, not everything comes to fruition.
First, what is a futurist and how did I find myself in this position, specifically as a resident practical futurist for lawyers? As to the former, a futurist is someone who thinks about the future. It is not a licensed profession as of yet, though I believe there are graduate programs offering futurology as an advanced degree. While I hold a doctorate of laws, I do not hold a doctorate of futurology. There’s a slight difference, but not worth going into at this time.
Also, I am not, as may seem obvious, an Italian Futurist. They were unfortunately killed off in World War I. I have, however, run across an Italian or two who dabbles in futurism of the less artistic and more modern variety. I am also not, as some are apt to call themselves, a foresight consultant, corporate strategist, prediction market developer, roadmapper, or brand direction controller. No, I am a resident practical futurist. I sit in my office and think of practical things that may occur in the future, specifically for lawyers. It’s that simple.
As to things that I have predicted but have not come true. There are a few:
- Wolfgram Alpha would become the largest and most powerful search engine in the world, besting Google as the most-used online search engine. On this basis, I advised other lawyers to dump their Google stock when it was $324 per share. It’s gone up a bit since then. Two things about this: 1) thank God for legal disclaimers on websites; and 2) Wolfgram Alpha is a “computational knowledge engine,” whatever that means.
- The argyle business “sweater suit” would become popular among large firm attorneys. I regret this prediction, not because it did not come true but because it was pretty stupid. We futurists have weaker moments, particularly when it comes to fashion.
- Esperanto would be the de facto world legal language by 2016. This does not look like it will happen. While lawyers in particular are prime candidates for mastering Esperanto, the rest of the world needs to understand basic legalese, whatever language being spoken. I’m no longer optimistic Esperanto is the language to bridge the gap between normals and lawyers. Advokato povas sonĝi, as they say.
- Beard transplants would lead to a quickly growing and in-demand practice area for transgenic follicular organism lawyers. Sorry about that one. I got almost all of that wrong and even made up the term “transgenic follicular organism lawyers” because it sounded kinda futurely and, to be honest, oddly sexy. Ironically, though, there are now beard transplants. I got that part right.
- ERISA lawyers would be practicing law on the moon by 2011. I actually thought that. Let me stress, though, that this was before I subsequently rebranded myself as a practical futurist. Also, in my defense, the small number of ERISA plan administrators currently residing on the moon doomed this prediction, not the lack of recent law school graduates willing to practice ERISA law, wherever that practice took them.
Now that I’ve disclosed my failures, as any ethical practical futurist should, I’m open to any questions about the future. Keep them brief and focused and I’ll get back to you with my answers, right here on Bitter Lawyer. Seriously. Send them to email@example.com and they’ll get to me.