by Don De Leon, JD, www.GrassrootsLawyers.com
If you are a transactional lawyer or a law student who is disillusioned about the state of the legal profession, you might feel differently after reading Practicing Law in a Sharing Economy. The book, authored by Janelle Orsi with contributions from other like-minded attorneys, argues that an “epic reinvention” of our economic system is taking place, and that as many as 100,000 lawyers will be needed to facilitate the shift to what Orsi calls a “sharing economy.”
Orsi argues that with the competition-based economy failing to provide adequate jobs or meet people’s basic needs, and an “American Dream” that seems out of reach for so many, more and more communities are taking matters into their own hands and developing creative ways to thrive; ways that involve collaboration and sharing instead of competition and individual ownership. The trend is evidenced by the rise in the prevalence of car sharing groups, time banks, social enterprises, worker cooperatives, childcare cooperatives, co-working spaces and many other types of cooperation-based arrangements.
Orsi says that attorneys come into the picture because communities that are reinventing their economic and property arrangements will need lawyers to help draft the agreements necessary to encapsulate such arrangements and navigate gray areas of law. Recognizing that our present system of laws is based largely on assumptions of competition versus cooperation, Orsi provides a rich discussion of the range of issues that lawyers will need to consider in serving the new sharing economy and in dealing with underdeveloped questions of law. Complete with primers on various sharing economy law topics ranging from land use to risk management, real-life examples and explanations, issues lists, and sample provisions, the book is a thorough and practical resource that can be used by attorneys to build a sharing economy law practice from the ground up.
If you are in the legal profession and a change-maker at heart, I highly recommend this book. It will open your eyes to a world of concrete actions communities can take right now to adapt to the changing economy and lift each other up, and the roles that lawyers can play in paving the way for such change.