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Law Practice Management

Legal Futurist: ‘The Party is Now Over’

Posted Nov 11, 2008 10:20 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A futurist argues that the legal profession is about to undergo a “fundamental transformation” in which conventional legal advisers will be much less prominent and legal services will be “commoditized” and delivered more cheaply.

The man making the predictions is Richard Susskind, the author of The End of Lawyers? He told the Am Law Daily that legal work has been increasingly profitable for the past decade or two, but times are changing.

“The party is now over,” he said. “The credit crunch is going to accelerate change in the legal profession, bringing much more demanding and discerning clients who increasingly will require more work at lower fees. And I believe that lawyers, in order to survive and prosper, must respond creatively and forcefully to this impending demand.”

Susskind predicts in the Am Law interview that more legal work will be outsourced, and more clients will collaborate to share the costs of some legal services, such as regulatory compliance. In England, where a new law allows nonlawyers to invest in legal businesses, he predicts a new practice model.

Nonlawyer managers “will explore call centers, outsourcing to India, online legal services, the automatic generation of documents, and much more,” he told the publication.

“And when clients see that legal services can be delivered more cheaply, efficiently, quickly, and to a higher quality using new methods and business models, then they will ask the same of traditional law firms, wherever they are located.”

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