It’s 25 years ago that I raced across the Atlantic in a 67′ foot yacht called Rona II. Along with a few similarly-motivated guys, we left Boston and sailed into the bleary close-of-day sunset – before quickly disappearing beyond sight of land. Dodging a wayward iceberg and surviving a powerful overnight storm that threatened to overcome us, nevertheless we pressed forward toward our goal, the coast of Ireland – only accompanied by a school of dolphins that befriended and swam with us most of the way. There are things you notice that far offshore – when your destination becomes as close as turning back.
Even in July, the Atlantic can be a raw place and, at night, it is surely one of the darkest. Aside the slight twinkle of a masthead light, the greatest source of light at deck level during the night watch was the plentiful plankton washing over us in the water over the deck. Bright, vivid, luminescent green – fresh as lime, then gone – until the next wave broke over us. The darkest part of the night watch was, without question, the early hours – the hours before dawn. No aircraft flying overhead – too far from the fleet behind us – and not another vessel in sight. The Atlantic is a dark solitary place.
And then it happens.
Sun creases the horizon – and the darkness of the night is quickly dissipated in the overwhelming, stunning fury of the morning sun. The sea – a distant expanse of dark nothingness – takes life and form. Though a sense of distance remains, the objective and sense of purpose is re-energized. The distance is dwarfed by the sense of what is possible.
And this is why I mention it.
The journey of legal tech and legal innovation has been a slow one at times. And that’s a very British under-statement. Adoption has been patchy and investors have been wary – at least until more recent days. The industry has been suitably cautious and protective around change – the sense of what is possible perhaps limited by a field of vision shrouded by night.
And then it happens.
And it’s happening now.
Change creases the horizon – adoption grows and a sense of the potential gets a footing in some established firms and larger companies. While the distance to go – and the opportunity to realize may yet be far off – suddenly the landscape is bathed in a warmer light. The sense of purpose and what is possible is re-energized.
As surely as the darkest night in mid-Atlantic precedes the most spectacular sunrise, the long and difficult night for legal innovation will be rewarded. Those who stay the distance, who press on in the night hours when the journey is uncomfortable – they have much to look forward to.
The first crease of light is showing on the horizon.
The view will be magnificent.