Roberta M. Gubbins, Esq.
I Write Content--You Practice Law

Draft Three / blog

The future--under the Dome or in the law firm

I am reading two books. One is Under the Dome by Stephen King, a great tale told by a talented author. The other is Tomorrow’s Lawyers by Richard Susskind, an interesting tale that looks at the impact of technology, the high costs of lawyering and other matters that will lead to new and exciting method of delivering legal services. 

I will probably finish the “Dome” before I finish Susskind’s book, which requires more thought, however from what I have read of it so far, I am intrigued with his predictions. 

Susskind writes that the biggest challenge facing lawyers and law firms is that the high cost of lawyering is driving more potential clients away. The family in need of a will, the small business owner seeking advice on how to write a contract or work with a labor union is let to his own devices because he can't afford to hire a lawyer to advise him. Susskind, who is British, calls the current form of servicing clients as bespoke, comparing it to the difference between a hand-tailored suit and the Men's Warehouse variety.  

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Susskind believes one way to cut costs while giving good service is to serve communities of legal users rather individuals or organizations on their own. He calls this commoditization and defines it as work once handcrafted can be routinized and disposed of quickly with little need for lawyers intervention.

This is the more for less challenge facing lawyers. How to deliver more services for less cost. He claims dropping prices or pricing differently is not the answer. 

The better answer is to work differently--to work more efficiently. And the way to do that is to identify the work that requires more process than judgement, procedure instead of strategy or creativity and to have that work routinized and undertaken by less qualified humans or by computer. An example could be the software used to search discovery materials for key words determined by the lawyer to be necessary.

His second suggestion is have clients come together and share the costs of certain types of legal services. He calls this the collaboration strategy. Susskind admits that this strategy will require a change of thinking, a much more difficult process. The example he gives is of banks that have to comply with regulations--one lawyer or law firm could work with collaborating banks.

That's it for now. I am going back to the struggles of the folks stuck under a dome. It is not so mind boggling. I'll keep you posted on my progress through the future of lawyers.

Roberta GubbinsComment