Triumph of the commons: a new role for attorneys in "sharing law"

The 21st century has wrought big change in the way communities constitute themselves. Digital technology has produced web sites and tools that enable people to transact business, form coalitions, find jobs, effect political change, connect with resources, and disseminate knowledge, news, and inventions, all from a cell phone or laptop.

The economic challenges of the last several years have also pushed people to rethink the nature of their commercial transactions, seeking new ways to do business and make economies flourish, while concerns about the environment have spurred the development of initiatives and technologies to recycle, share, and conserve resources.

Covering the story of this brave new world, where people strive together to work, run businesses, raise families, and improve neighborhoods is Shareable, a nonprofit online magazine dedicated to spreading the word about the triumph (not the tragedy) of the commons.

What place for lawyers in these creative economies? According to Shareable, in the “Birth of Sharing Law”, innovative, forward-thinking lawyers will be busy:

Contrary to what we see on lawyer TV shows, around half of lawyers primarily work as transactional lawyers, not courtroom litigators. Transactional lawyers advise on, negotiate, and structure the contracts that govern business deals, real estate transfers, loans, mergers, securities, insurance, and so on.

The evolving nature of our transactions has created the need for a new area of law practice. We are entering an age of innovative transactions, collaborative transactions, crowd transactions, micro-transactions, sharing transactions – transactions that the legal field hasn’t caught up with, like: Bartering. Sharing. Cooperatives. Buying clubs. Community currencies. Time banks. Microlending. Crowdsourcing. Crowdfunding. Open source. Community supported agriculture. Fair trade. Consensus decision-making. Cohousing. Intentional Communities. Community Gardens. Copyleft.

To read more about Shareable‘s vision for “community transactional law”, and the ways in which the role of lawyer, the meaning of “client”, and the focus of legal education may be altered, click here. The next new frontier in collaborative law may be about to open.

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