The legal industry is undergoing some major changes at the moment. From process automation freeing up time and reducing costs to communication tech that makes virtual legal aid possible, a lot of adjustments are going on right now. Pair that with industry employment figures which are still 55,000 people lower than before the recession, and what you have is a very stressful time to practice law.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Those tech advances I mentioned earlier are allowing lawyers to find a better balance between work and family life. It’s also leading to improved customer service in the industry. For more on that and what else the future has in store, we asked a group of industry experts…
What’s The Future Of The Legal Industry?
Here’s what they had to say…
Raad Ahmed, Founder & CEO of LawTrades
“I think 20 or 50 years down the road lawyers will wake up, look at their future device, and get notified of various projects and contracts that are tailored to them based on their skill-set and social connections. You’ll pick one or a few based on how much you’re getting paid, its impact on your future reputation, and after completing the project, you’ll get ranked and rated on your performance. If you want to take the next week off to travel, you’ll take the next week off. If you want to work double hours, you’ll work double.
The whole legal industry is headed towards the direction of building individual brands than just joining a firm. Thanks to the democratization of technology, you’ll start to see more independent lawyers build brands bigger than the largest law firms on earth.
I think what makes me truly excited is the work LawTrades does in making a platform that creates more individual lawyers and help those lawyers work for themselves while breaking the traditional law firm hierarchy.”
Alexander Shunnarah, Founder & CEO of Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C
“In years past, the legal community shied away from aggressive marketing. Personal injury practices, such as my own, were really the only ones pushing themselves to the public. Following the crash of 2008, however, legal marketing has been steadily on the rise.
I have seen a national trend towards firms attempting to establish themselves as brands. To have true brand awareness, it takes creativity, reach, frequency, and capital. I find great value in continually experimenting and then investing in what works for my firm. For me, it’s about the ping factor. Every time someone sees my firm’s logo it pings their brain, whether they realize it or not. If I can ping a potential client’s brain enough, they will remember me when they need my services.
There is no straight forward formula for determining how a firm should employ marketing. It’s about experimenting, trusting your gut, and following what works.”
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
“The future of the legal industry is toward great accessibility and access to the people. With the proliferation of online resources and increased access to services such as incorporation and trademark filings, legal documents and the like, non-lawyers are able to handle many matters themselves. Law firms and lawyers are becoming business advisors with legal understanding. Lawyers are taking a more holistic approach to their clients rather than purely transactional. It’s creating an overall better environment for the customer – access for those matters that do not require an attorney and a more holistic response from attorneys when needed.”
Willy Ogorzaly, CEO of JustLegal.com
“After years of resisting change, the legal industry appears to be entering a technological renaissance. A wave of new technology-enabled startups have entered the market over the past several years. As their products evolve and grow into their respective niches, these entrepreneurs are competing with each other to fill the gaps between law firm’s current capabilities and offerings and modern-day consumer expectations. Over the next 3-5 years, we expect to see more startups continue to enter the market, leading to massive fragmentation and an overwhelming range of choices for law firms to consider. Over the following 3-5 years, we expect to see a healthy merger and acquisition environment as the industry consolidates and market leaders emerge.”
Wendi Weiner, Attorney, Award-Winning Writer & Executive Career Coach at The Writing Guru
“As an attorney who is both a legal expert and career expert to other attorneys and top business executives, I firmly believe that in the next 10-15 years, more attorneys will be making the move into more executive-based legal roles and less into working at law firms. The trend I often see now is where attorneys are focusing on a hybrid role of legal advisor and business advisor in the capacity of being a general counsel and EVP (Executive Vice President) or general counsel and SVP (Senior Vice President). This allows attorneys to leverage their legal analysis skills with strategic business management in a leadership capacity in compliance and governance matters.”
Ginny Allen, Attorney, Digital Consultant & Founder of ThisBusinessOfLaw.com
“Attorneys will get their work from online platforms, not law firms in the traditional sense. These platforms will unbundle and productize legal services faster than law firms can themselves, while also drastically improving the client experience.
Lawyers who want to command premium rates for lawyering, as we think of it today, will develop highly niche practices, or dive into emerging areas of law and technology. For individual attorneys, professional brand development is critical over the next 10 years.”
Andrew Vaughn, Founder of NuVorce, LLC
“The future of the legal system is a paradigm shift in how clients are billed and a business structure that serves as a motivation for lawyers to be more efficient. In short, more efficient cases and controlled billing structure. At NuVorce we have already changed the legal system. NuVorce has a math formula that helps deliver value to clients in a predictable, cost-efficient manner, while still getting winning outcomes.
Traditionally, less time you talk to your lawyer, or he/she spends preparing, the less it costs you. No matter if you win or lose, lawyers financially win the longer your case is.”
Blakney Boggs, Attorney with Smith Law Offices, LLP
“As things heat up between opposing state and federal laws, there is a disconnect which will most likely lead to years of litigation and legislation issues – such as the issue regarding legalized marijuana. Several states recently legalized marijuana, including California. Currently, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains the position that marijuana is a controlled substance and has no medical use. The federal government holds steadfast to the position that states that have legalized marijuana are in violation of the federal law.
Lately, there is some indication that the federal government will enforce the federal marijuana law when in conflict with the states’ recreational use law. What is certain, is that Article VI of the Constitution indicates that when the state and federal laws disagree, the supremacy clause preempts the state law, and the federal government is to prevail. It remains to be seen how the two opposing sides will resolve.”
Alex Solo, Co-founder of Sprintlaw
“There’s a lot of hype around tech in legal services, particularly in light of the launch of ROSS and wave of new companies touting software that will ‘replace the lawyer’. The reality is that tech is still a long way off from replicating the people skills, social awareness and intuition required to make a good lawyer.
Rather, the tech we’ll see in the next 10-15 years is enabling software that helps lawyers, by making their job more efficient and automating repetitive, computable tasks – for example, through predictive electronic discovery, intelligent legal research and automated document preparation.
Accordingly, we think the role of the lawyer will begin changing from the traditional ‘expert at law’ to the tech operator, and law firms will begin to look more and more like tech companies. Law students would be smart to look beyond their university education and become tech literate, as their encyclopaedic knowledge of cases may be less important than their ability to analyse data and operate legal software.”
Erik Treutlein, Founder & CEO of Legalinc
“The legal technology space is changing at an incredible pace. The progress is being driven by entrepreneurs who are using software to solve problems usually addressed exclusively by lawyers. From divorce law to litigation finance, entrepreneurs are reinventing how legal services are being delivered, opting for speed, efficiency and accuracy over tradition.
If I had to guess where we will be in 10 years, I would say two things will be completely different. First, legal services will be largely accessible via self-service mobile platforms. Second, software is going to make it easy for companies to scientifically measure ROI for a wide range of legal services. This will include everything from IP management to litigation. And the result of this sea change in ROI measurement will be reduced spending for legal services that don’t deliver.”