In 2016 the Law Society of New South Wales established the Future Committee and, in turn, the Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) Commission of Inquiry. The inquiry culminated in the Law Society’s ground-breaking The Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) report, surrounding the future of the legal industry in the digital age.
The report recognised that the legal profession is undergoing change at a pace never before experienced and in unforeseen ways. This change has major ramifications for not just the legal profession, but for clients and society more generally, particularly in relation to access to justice.
UNSW Law and the Law Society are collaborating to generate a stream of research to consider and respond to the issues raised by the FLIP report, such as legal technology, clients’ needs and expectations, new ways of working, community needs and legal education.
Each year the FLIP stream, as it has become known, will undertake research into an annual topic that will then be disseminated through the academy, the profession and society.
The annual topic for 2018 was: Artificial Intelligence and the Legal Profession.
As part of the FLIP stream annual topic for 2018, Professor Michael Legg and Dr Felicity Bell created a primer for lawyers and law students which is available here.
The annual topic for 2019 was: Change Leadership for a Dynamic Profession.
The FLIP stream also engaged in and responded to other areas of research and law reform. A primer has been developed for the 2019 which is available here
The annual topic for 2020 was: The Sustainability of Law and Lawyers, including:
- technology and dispute resolution;
- legal design – process simplification and improvement; and
- cost and financing.
The annual topic for 2021 was: The Future of the Legal Service Delivery - Sources of Innovation in the Legal Profession
FLIP Stream conducted interviews with 24 representatives from different types of legal enterprise for this research. Three substantive themes came to light:
- how innovation can be, and is, promoted through business structures;
- how it can provide value to clients; and
- how it is impacted and sustained by organisational culture.
The annual topic for 2022 is: Lawyers, Clients and Colleagues: Trust and Relationships in an Online World
The FLIP stream will be primarily conducted by Professor Michael Legg, Dr Justine Rogers and Dr Felicity Bell. See their profiles below:
Director of the FLIP Stream
Michael’s research interests are in dispute resolution, access to justice and the legal profession. He has previously written on the use of technology assisted review in litigation and online dispute resolution / courts.
He was the Chair of the UNSW Law School’s technology curriculum review which examined the ramifications of the impact of technology on the legal profession for legal education. In 2017 he was awarded Academic of the Year at the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards for his innovative teaching of technology and legal practice, especially in relation to litigation and alternative dispute resolution, and engagement with the legal profession. In 2016 he received the Dean’s Award for Impact and Engagement.
Michael is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of NSW, Federal Court of Australia, High Court of Australia and in the State and Federal courts of New York. He holds law degrees from UNSW (LLB), the University of California, Berkeley (LLM) and the University of Melbourne (PhD). Michael is a member of the Law Society of New South Wales’ Future Committee and the Law Council of Australia's Class Actions Committee.
Dr Justine Rogers researches and teaches in professions, professional work and professional ethics. Her research examines how the changing nature of professions raises urgent global challenges - but also possibilities - for issues of ethics, identities, expertise, and ultimately the public good. From 2014-2018, Justine was a Chief Investigator of an ARC linkage grant with the Professional Standards Council on the future of the professions.
Justine is also convenor of UNSW Law’s core UG and JD applied ethics course, which she appointed in 2013 to design. Her teaching innovations, centred on group-based deliberative ethics, have been recognised and replicated nationally and internationally. Justine was an Academic of the Year Finalist (2016) in the Annual Australian Law Awards, and Women Legal Academic of the Year Finalist (2016). In addition, her course is used at UNSW as an exemplar of blended learning.
Justine has consulted on ethical culture and infrastructure to the legal profession, law firms and a major bank. She has been invited to write on ethics and its meanings in a range of different legal, financial and medical contexts.
Dr Felicity Bell holds a BA/LLB (Hons I) from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the University of Sydney. Felicity has researched and published in family law, children and the law, and examines issues relating to best practice, identity and conceptions of ethics among lawyers. She has worked with NSW Legal Aid on facilitating children’s participation in family law processes. Felicity has taught family law, legal professional ethics and property law, most recently working as a lecturer at the University of Wollongong where she was also the lawyer member of the Human Research Ethics Committee.
Tony Song holds a LLB from UNSW has been working with the FLIP Stream for 3 years, initially as a research assistant and now a research fellow. Previously, Tony has worked in various legal centres, law firms (from boutique to BigLaw), courts and start-ups. Tony’s research interest covers the impact of technology on the legal profession and society, with a focus on artificial intelligence, remote courts, drones and web3.
Tony is most passionate about the intersection between law and crypto, including how smart legal contracts will change legal practice; how the new financial system (of Bitcoin, DeFi and CBDCs) will revolutionise money; how the future of governance will be shaped by decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs); and how the metaverse will increasingly meld as one with society.
Tony is also a part-time trader of financial markets (primarily cryptocurrencies) with certificates in the Wyckoff methodology of technical analysis.