Virtual Third Places, Making Room in the Law Market
by Michele DeStefano, Law Professor at LawWithoutWalls and University of Miami School of Law on Jul 09, 2012
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The common conception is that inventions are discovered by a scientist, alone in a lab, coming upon the “a-ha” or “eureka” moment, but that is often not the case. Instead, it is the ...
The common conception is that inventions are discovered by a scientist, alone in a lab, coming upon the “a-ha” or “eureka” moment, but that is often not the case. Instead, it is the interactions that scientists have with others that lead to breakthroughs. Exaptation (as opposed to adaptation) occurs when something is borrowed from one field and used to solve a problem in a totally unrelated field. In other words, innovation often comes from “refurbished” parts as opposed to newfangled creation. It is the result of exposure to ideas outside the immediate focus of interest, broad diverse connections and networks. Clearly, the legal marketplace could benefit from innovation and exaptation. The question is, however, given the restrictive regulations and legal structure within the U.S. and the global nature of the legal profession, how can the U.S. legal profession create environments that foster these diverse and eclectic connections that create the accidental combination of ingredients? This presentation attempts to answers this question by borrowing (i.e., exapting) - from other fields. It suggests that the answer is a technological one: the legal marketplace could benefit from developing Virtual Third Places. A “third place,” according to the sociologist and anthropologist Ray Oldenburg, is an environment that enables connections among people from different disciplines, and is set apart from traditional meeting places like the home or office. Utilizing some real world examples, this presentation attempts to demonstrate that the ideal third place for US lawyers and legal educators is a virtual one that promotes creative interaction among people from different disciplines, backgrounds, and political views, with various types and levels of expertise and passions.
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