For a while you might have felt that the rule of “better, faster, cheaper” had been side-stepped by the legal industry. Indeed, there were (and still are) countless arguments strenuously made by some pretty big wheels about “how law is different” “how different it is” and how it should be “viewed differently”. Got it. And that’s great. Except it’s wrong – and the next three years in the legal industry will be evidence of just how wrong.

There will be more change in the legal industry in the next 3 years than the last 50 combined – the clock is ticking and the evidence is coming into focus.

The better, faster, cheaper movement has been a bit slow arriving – there were a few unplanned stops along the way – but there’s no question that it has arrived now – and the consequences of this will become very real. There are significant technical and labor implications of this – the extent of which is unprecedented in this sector. While other industries have fielded change, this level of change has largely bypassed law – until now. Some argue it is a Perfect Storm scenario. More on that later.

For a younger generation entering the legal industry it’s important to acknowledge how different it will be and the extent to which tech, such as AI, will displace vast tranches of human activity, intervention. Equally significant is the context in which the legal industry will exist – inescapably falling within the broader ecosystem of data that is now the modern economy. 

Once material is in a digital format, it is endlessly capable of greater efficiencies – and it is independent of the billable hour. Contract frameworks, deal experiences, litigation / case data and much more – every flavor, every which way. The element of human intervention becomes truly qualitative perspective applied to the data – not the extraction of data itself. What do you think? What do you advise? Based on what we know.

For an established generation of practitioners, it is becoming critical to stay on top of technical advances. These bring consequences for value – and perceived value. There are new risks to manage and new competitive threats. Case-in-point is the cybersecurity field – arguably one of the greatest risks and also one of the greatest opportunities of the century for the legal industry.

To those aspiring to be truly great client-centric, client-valued lawyers, the future remains bright. The converse is also true. Either way, there is no time like the present to embrace new skills, upgrade existing – and build powerful networks of influence that can help you navigate the coming decade.

What got you here.. doesn’t guarantee to get you the rest of the way. No-one gets to stand still and let time pass by. To be close to the professional finish line doesn’t preclude anyone from stumbling. New skills and knowledge sets become critical to relevancy – and the cycle will only accelerate further.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions – and do make sure we have your email for timely updates, commentary.

 

David Kinnear

Publisher & CEO of High Performance Counsel

New York