by David Kinnear

The break in the weather came – as quickly as it had disappeared.

“Like fighter jet pilots, the crew mounted their enormous machines and took to the vast landscape – no words necessary aside the sporadic squawk on the radio in the musky dawn.”

The task ahead – the bailing and wrapping of acre upon acre of rolling green glistening lightly in the early sun. By nightfall, the job was done – the ground covered and the last of the bails was on its way to winter storage. The crew set to the road to steer their craft home – ready to fly again at dawn the following day.

These days, a farmer has to work quickly – between the inflexible demands of weather and the equally inflexible test of economic viability, there is no time to lose and efficiency is critical. Free markets determine participants’ economic future – there is little protection aside the quality of your work, your products and the relationship customers enjoy. With such a focus on the bottom line, it’s no surprise that automation has become a big feature of modern farming life – along with the adoption of mechanical firepower on an unprecedented level.

“The only way that modern farming can now realistically occur is in reliance on the vast machines that roam the landscape and the bevvy of support vehicles that sustain them. Law faces a similar  challenge in its delivery model, which translates to new opportunity for the bold and creative.”

I say opportunity since I am a firm believer in making the best of change. Change is a constant; it is inevitable. If we deny it or seek to delay it, we are simply more likely to miss the opportunity it creates. And some of that will go to others – maybe permanently. It is essential to let go of what holds us back if indeed we are to move forward.

“Automation is here to stay. It is both a bold champion and a fierce enemy.”

As clients start to realize the potential for better, faster, cheaper options – the needle moves. At first, it’s almost imperceptible – like warming water. But the shift in expectation – the view of what can now be done – that becomes a permanent feature of the landscape. Old allegiances fade and past alliances weigh lighter in the scales as new options and new players challenge what has gone before.

 

Automation is not a new concept but the application of newer elements such as AI to automation has the potential to accelerate buyer adoption  sharply – in turn, this may displace traditional professional activities. The opportunity for corporate buyers increases daily and the direct access / self-help options for consumer buyers are growing quickly.

“The buyer is well-served by these changes. Lawyers must now decide their own fate and be prepared to act (and invest) accordingly.”

Like farmers with more options for sourcing services and better-suited products, buyers of legal services are finding more to choose from and competition is growing. Which frames the question for many lawyers – to embrace or reject the change that automation offers?

There is still time to adapt but the clock is ticking and the direction of travel is clear.

And that’s the point.