This Special Issue is brought to you by HPC #CyberMatch ™
“There is nothing to fear but fear itself. And fear is not a worthy adversary.”
In our second #ThinkTank, we asked a panel of our world-class Faculty to share their uniquely valuable insights on the State of the Legal Industry. In this case, we asked them to share what their wildest prediction for the State of the Legal Industry through year end 2020? And not to be shy. The richness and diversity of their thinking makes for timely, compelling reading. We hope you enjoy it.
Founder, CEO & Publisher
High Performance Counsel
#WildCard: What is your wildest prediction for the State of the Legal Industry through year end 2020? Don’t be shy.
The legal industry will become more driven by the use of data and quantitative analysis. This may not be popular with many lawyers, but the legal profession will increasingly rely upon and make use of numbers and math. I would submit that the rise of the Big Four within the legal world has been helped by their background in the quantitative space. The legal industry will rely more and more on data to drive decisions and outcomes and lawyers that are prepared to make decisions using the tools of the business world will be primed for success.
The wildest prediction for 2020 is that the legal profession will continue, for the most part, in its glacial pace toward adopting technology and looking at process improvements. I see the Bars of California and Florida starting to talk about process improvements, alternative service delivery models and the adoption of legal technology! Will they start bringing others along with them and if so, how quickly? This remains to be seen!
The dollar value of legal work performed worldwide continues to grow, and has reached epic levels at over half a trillion dollars. While I don’t think anything cataclysmic is going to happen in the matter of only a year and a half, new players entering the marketplace will continue putting pressure on law firms. The paradox is that while the aggregate value of global legal work is increasing, clients are seeking more efficient and cost effective ways to have that legal work performed. This has led to a shrinking demand environment — as seen through the lens of a law firm. My prediction is that the Big 4 Accounting Firms and other LPOs will continue to take a bigger and bigger bite out of an ever shrinking pie. Not earth shattering, but reality nonetheless.
Clients As Adversaries. Unfortunately, we may start seeing more situations were cyber and information handling mishaps turn clients and their law firms into adversaries. Imagine these scenarios: A law firm is hacked, the bad guys spoof an email from the firm to a client, asking for confidential M&A information or for a wire transfer, and the client complies. Off goes the information or the money to the bad guys. Or a law firm for high net worth divorce clients is breached, resulting in the public disclosure of highly embarrassing client information. It’s unrealistic for firms to assume that being a “trusted advisor” will prevent clients from taking legal action against them in circumstances like this.
The top quarter of law firms in Am Law 100 are pulling further ahead of the pack, and even more so with respect to the second 100.
- Corporate counsel can handle most work themselves, internally or through outsourcing.
- So they will hire only law firms at the top range that not only get complicated work done, but also provide an insurance policy, through their brand name, for the corporate counsel.
- Also, revenue for solo practitioners and small firms fell last year.
My wildest predictions for the state of the legal industry through year end 2020 will be that the legal world will be turned upside down in dealing with data privacy changes that will occur in the U.S. which will have ripple effects worldwide. I predict there will be a rush of well-funded multinational “data-rich” corporations moving into consumer banking and health industries to claim “legitimate interest” for retaining personal consumer data, and in the U.S. courts on the federal and state levels there will be in a fight to define the right to consumer data privacy in the narrowest terms imaginable as data privacy legislation becomes inevitable. It will be fascinating to watch as this plays out and to see how legal will respond to these tectonic shifts.
We’re going to see a lot of folks outside the legal industry take the lead on training our associates and serving our clients’ legal needs by using technology that is being used in retail, media and elsewhere. We lawyers are not known for our ingenuity. Others are. The barbarians are at the gates. Its time for law firms to wake up and get ahead of the wave or be drowned by it.
Joy Heath Rush
At least three US states will allow non-lawyer equity partners into law firm partnerships. This sounds inconsequential, but it has enormous implications for the competitive landscape. That, combined with the advent of publicly traded law firms in Australia and the UK, could fundamentally change law firm profitability – in a positive way if properly managed.
New innovations will fuel the increase of compensation of in-house attorneys to the compensation level their outside counsel counterparts.
The domino effect will begin in the regulation of legal services — at least one U.S. jurisdiction will allow non-lawyers to deliver legal services and/or have an ownership interest in law firms.
Machine learning and the emergence of artificial intelligence will impact the legal industry in many ways. These tools will not only become fundamental to research, but will incorporate levels of analytics (including predictive) that will rapidly impact litigation capabilities and many others aspects integral to the practice of law.
2020 will see one or more global organizations outsource their legal functions to the Big4.This will be the first domino in an inevitable trend that will radically change the legal value and supply chain. The direction of travel is clear. Customers are the winners.
Lucy Endel Bassli
My wildest prediction is that Big Law will finally start grabbing the lower end work as a way to embed themselves with their clients in a way that is inextricably valuable.
That absolutely nothing will change. There will always be a need for top-level, top flight counsel who have been through the wars.
I am more optimistic now than ever. Lawyers and the practice of law is more important than ever. Nothing about the law has changed. How we buy the services and how we deliver the services are changing (more use of ALSPs, technology, self-service processes).
As Lawyers get better at running their depts like a business, they are better at communicating with their clients, speaking the language of the business. CEOs are looking to legal to deliver a competitive advantage. As a result, lawyers are moving into CEO roles. PG&E is a perfect example of that. More flexibility in terms of roles.
Law schools begin collaborating with members of the entire legal ecosystem vs only law firms.
Wellness and Diversity and Inclusion drive changes in the law firm business model – working more hours and billing more hours comes to an end.
New lawyers instinctively apply technology to their method of delivering legal services. Data and velocity are the new currency for running an efficient business.
The current talent gap will be filled.
Referring to the access to justice issue I mentioned above, I am confident that we’re going to see great strides in technology, especially in the AI space. While we don’t yet see it as commonplace in the foundational legal tools that legal departments are implementing, we are starting to see the service providers employing AI, such as law firms and alternative legal service providers (ALSPs). In addition, we’ll begin to see the liberalization of legal services. It won’t happen this year, and maybe not even next, but with the Big 4 clearly moving into this space and alternative service providers only gaining marketshare, I am confident the rules.
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