Tomorrow's Lawyers - Richard Susskind

This article was inspired by Richard Susskind's Tomorrow's Lawyers . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.


How to Adapt to the Ever Changing Legal Industry

“Tomorrow’s legal world…bears little resemblance to that of the past.”

Individuals and small businesses often cannot afford lawyers, so there has been a push for more service for less cash. In England and Wales, “alternative business structures” (ABSs) allow non-lawyers to “function like partners in traditional law firms.”

Attorneys will have to adapt to technological advancements. If lawyers could use IT to create new legal services, they could garner clients in ways other firms wouldn’t consider.

Liberalization and IT will change legal services so much that attorneys who don’t adjust will lose a great deal of business. If you are in the legal profession, consider the fourteen following issues to watch:

  1. “Strategies for success” – If possible, have your clients come together to share legal costs. Have low-cost providers deal with everyday tasks.
  2. “Commoditizing the law” – Package legal help that isn’t individualized into an efficient and cost effective service. You can reach more clients this way.
  3. “Working differently” – Outsource whatever work you can. Don’t put the entire burden on yourself.
  4. “Disruptive legal technologies” – Use the coming technology to your advantage. Taking your work online is one step towards success.
  5. “The future for law firms” – Some corporate law firms won’t need to change rapidly, but medium sized and small sized firms will either merge or close.
  6. “The shifting role of in-house lawyers” – General counsels (GCs) currently focus on avoiding liabilities, however, changing times will force general counsels to choose outside attorneys willing to share in the firm’s risks.
  7. “The timing of the changes” – At first, lawyers will try to weather the storm of change. Then firms will turn to sources of cheaper legal work. When new technologies, such as AI, provide cost effective, efficient legal counsel, firms will either adapt or die.
  8. “Access to justice and online legal services” – The internet will one day provide service akin to Wikipedia, where those who can’t afford a lawyer can research their particular legal trouble and resolve it on their own.
  9. “Judges, IT, virtual courts,” and “online dispute resolution” – Though a judge can’t be replaced by a computer, online dispute resolution (ODR) will be in our immediate future.
  10. “New jobs for lawyers” – Technological innovations will create new positions for lawyers. Attorneys’ knowledge will be needed to set up online legal services.
  11. “Who will employ young lawyers?” – As traditional law firms start to disappear, attorneys can find jobs through online legal services and by working for retailers that will sell legal information to the public.
  12. “Training lawyers for what?” – Rather than teaching law students to work one on one with clients, law schools will teach attorneys teamwork and IT skills.
  13. “Replacing the old training ground” – Online learning will replace dull law school lectures.
  14. “Questions to ask employers” – Ask about the future of IT in law and long-term strategies for the firm.

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