Susskind 2.0 digested (6)

By Nick Holmes on November 28, 2007
2 comments
Filed under Future of law

In the last Times extract from The End of Lawyers? Richard Susskind answers his critics. There are those that argue that “computers cannot replace legal work. Full stop.” and others who believe that IT will have no or minimal effect on lawyers. To which the reply is:

Open-minded lawyers, and those who genuinely care about the interests of their clients should, in the internet age, continually be looking at ways in which IT can play a more prominent role in their services. … there is remarkable scope for greater and beneficial deployment of technology. I also contend that for some lawyers there are existing and emerging technologies whose widespread adoption will effectively render them redundant. …“disruptive legal technologies” … do not support or complement current legal practices. They challenge and replace them, in whole or in part.

Most of the disruptive technologies that I identify … are phenomena of which most practising lawyers are only dimly aware. … If lawyers are barely conversant with today’s technologies, they have even less sense of how much progress in legal technology is likely in the coming 10 years. Politely, it puzzles me profoundly that lawyers who know little about current and future technologies can be so confident about their inapplicability.

The end.

More on the future of law.

2 comments

Enormous profits provide no incentive to the supplier to innovate. ‘Traditional’ law firms are no different to banks or insurance companies in this respect. As such, none is organised to innovate, and each is hog-tied by expensive overheads.

Yet those same enormous profits also breed resentment amongst customers and get other minds active on the creation of more cost effective alternatives. Headlines about spiralling hourly rates (http://www.thelawyer.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=129976) provide the sort of shock that propel clients along the ‘change curve’ from denial to a realisation that the world has changed and its time to plan how to manage their legal costs downward.

Technology has enabled customers to seize control of their own experiences in retail, music distribution, travel, switching utilities and so on. It is also enabling clients to seize control of their legal processes and drive down costs. Call it “Law 2.0” if you will.

The convenience of sharing and marking-up documents online, even ‘virtual’ completion meetings, are irresistible. Up to the minute billing feeds and visibility of how many lawyers are being thrown at which issues before you get landed with the bill are great tools to manage your costs. You begin to realise that huge concrete towers with enormous, wasted common areas, and tons of support staff for people who can’t use email are overkill.

Personally, I joined Lawyers Direct two years ago to top-up my salary while working at Zopa, the person to person lending marketplace – I guess I’m a serial disruptor. Lawyers Direct offers access to more than 60 partner level lawyers at half what their City rates would have been. There is a small support team in a small yet comfortable office in West London. The lawyers work wherever and whenever they please, linked by email and with the same sort of online tools and intranet any self-respecting law firm should have. And the reduced overhead means that the lawyers still have the opportunity to take home the same salary as their City counterparts. So there’s one example of a compelling, lean and efficient business model for clients and lawyers alike.

by Simon Deane-Johns on 30 November 2007 at 1:13 pm. #

i’ll skip the part about legal databases and tech that saves our time and makes life easyer (or harder).

“technology law” is a new field. and i see here a perspective for lawyers which will be norm after some time. you just can’t simply ignore developments of technologies as they enter our life. thechnologies change the way we perceive things.

i’m a lawyer dealing exactly with tech issues. And mostly here are two issues i deal with: agreements on technology developement (you should know basics of IT to make a correct agreement) and electronic documents & e-governance. So as a lawyer you should accept that e-docs are here (tghough still not widely used) and know how to deal with them.

by xlt on 20 December 2007 at 11:03 am. #