Lori Wirkus and Matt Cianflone Featured The CLM Magazine’s November Issue

November 4, 2021

An Existential Crisis?
It’s time for defense lawyers and insurers to ask themselves, “Is there a better way?”

Originally published in The CLM Magazine’s November 2021 Issue

We are in a time of crisis, whether we want to believe it or not. Our industry has resisted disruptive innovation for years.

We think because we use email, have a firm website, subscribe to Westlaw, purchased some data-storage software, or use PowerPoint (occasionally) that we’re up to date; that we’re tech savvy; that we’re consistent with (if not ahead of) the trends. But we are not.

The frank reality is that lawyers are only a few steps removed from communicating with carrier pigeons, wearing powdered wigs, and dipping a quill pen into an inkwell. It’s time to shake things up.

You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’
Can you imagine a time when any movie you wanted wasn’t available on-demand, without commercials, and without leaving your home? Netflix, Apple TV, Prime, Hulu, Peacock—it seems there is a never-ending list of streaming services that, for a monthly fee, allow you to consume vast amounts of content with just a few clicks on your remote. Now add up the average costs: $14 here, $20 there—let’s say you spend $50 to $75 per month. It feels like a lot, but it grants you access to tens of thousands of choices. It is almost an infinite supply of content that is updated constantly.

Now, keep those thoughts about cheap, available entertainment content in your mind, step into your DeLorean, rev up the engine to 88 mph, and tell us: “Where were you on Wednesday, March 11, 1987?”

The number one show on television was “The Cosby Show” (yikes!). The number one song was Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” (still holds up!). We were in the midst of Reagan’s America, and the biggest blockbuster of the previous year was about to be released on VHS. Some may not realize that when “Top Gun” was released on video, it changed the industry forever.

There have been plenty of articles addressing this seismic shift. Still, the gist of what happened is simple: Before the VHS release of ”Top Gun,” videos were, with some earlier exceptions, prohibitively expensive, with some priced around $70 (in 1987 dollars) and sometimes more. The logic was that people already paid around $4 to go to a movie, and they could only watch it one time. So, for $70, people could buy the film and watch it however many times they wanted (or at least until the tape got worn out and distorted and flickered, or it got unspooled, and you couldn’t rewind it the right way. You just had to live through it to understand).

So, what happened? Paramount—the production company behind “Top Gun”—struck a deal with PepsiCo, which included a commercial before the movie that ran on the tape. Riffing off of the plot, the commercial featured a fighter pilot who rolls his fighter jet over to pour the perfect sip of an ice-cold Diet Pepsi. Classic ‘80s advertising. The deal between PepsiCo and Paramount allowed “Top Gun” to be widely advertised, for those VHS costs to be driven down for Paramount, and for the price point to be lowered to $26.95 (which had never been lower).

It changed everything.

Read the full article here.