Hermes Law

News from the office

Susskind Tomorrow’s Lawyers Summary

Below are the notes from our friend Lorenzo Berenger. Lorenzo has been in the claims business for over 30 years. Starting out as a first line claims person and evolving to Global Head of Vendor Relations for XL Catlin.

Source: «Tomorrow’s Lawyers», pub. 2013

p. Susskind comment LB comment
xiii «legal institutions» and «lawyers» are at a crossroads, poised to change radically over the next two decades. Bold statement:  needs validation(s).  Twenty-year period is important.
xiii Warning to elder statesmen in law firms:  “IT” particularly, and some of the other “transformations” are coming in the next “few” years Calls to the “young at heart”:  “legal” and “justice systems” should be modernized
xiv Identifies a “whole set” of “exciting new occupations” for tomorrow’s lawyers N/A
xiv Judges should introduce “virtual hearings” and “online” ADR This is part of controlling the costs of litigation
xv To meet the “needs of clients”, we will need to dispense with “much” of our current “cottage industry.”  “..massive upheaval..must happen now in in other professions.” Strong words (in bold)
xv Pervasive use of IT This is generally assumed, but in my view, generally underestimated
xvii Focus of book is largely, but not exclusively, civil work in commercial law firms N/A
xviii Wayne Gretzky analogy:  attorneys must focus on where the legal market will be. Excellent analogy:  I totally agree.
4 The “More-for Less” challenge (for General Counsel)= three problems:  1.  Reduce lawyers;  2. Reduce external legal spend; 3.  Undertake more legal and compliance work. I agree based on my own experience.
5 Small businesses and consumers (citizens) face the “More-for-Less” challenge. See above
5 Liberalization” is a second main driver of change; in England and Wales, “reserved” legal work is undertaken only by qualified lawyers. This is a narrower category than the “authorized practice of law” in the US. I see this as an important (macro) evolution in the marketplace.
6 In England and Wales, calls for liberalization were answered in 2004 with the Clementi Report, which led directly to the “Legal Services Act” of 2007, which (inter alia) permits the set-up of ABSs (alternative business structures). E.g. non-lawyers can own and run legal businesses. As immediately above.
10 IT:  many lawyers grotesquely misunderstand IT’s trend and importance. I agree
11 Assuming Moore’s Law would hold, an average desktop computer (by 2020) would have same processing power as the human brain (i.e. 1018 calculations/second). Moore’s Law is not holding per Q2 2017; however, the author’s point is well-taken.
12 Cites example of Twitter, as “irrational rejectionism,” the dogmatic and visceral dismissal of a technology I agree
13 The challenge is to “innovate”, to practice law in ways that we would not have done in the past I agree
16 Lawyers charge for their input and not their output.  “Hourly billing is an institutionalized disincentive to efficacy.” In my view, the first point can be argued.  I agree that the opportunity for inefficacy is provided.
17 40% of law firms are run by solo practitioners Author does not provide source (for the 40%)
21 Much compliance work is administrative and non-competitive (i.e. there is duplicative, costly effort, which is massive and unnecessarily costly. I agree
31 The conduct of litigation can be divided into nine tasks (see table 4.1). Of these tasks, and as example, project management is a significant discipline in its own right (cites the US-based international law firm, Orrick, which has moved some of its legal work to less-costly locations). I agree
37 Cites “LawPivot” (now Rocket Lawyer) as a platform that allows people to ask questions publicly. I see this service as a positive development
40 Cites a table of 13 disruptive technologies (see table 5.1) I agree
45 Cornell University Law School publishes law online at no charge (to help people understand legal issues) I agree this is a good example
45 Legal OnRamp (now “Elevate Services”) is a collaboration system for in-house counsel. Checking the website, I found that Elevate is offering a range of services for law firms and law departments (e.g. e-billing, HR support, IT, etc).
53 “Cost pressures” are a reality:  and wise for a law firm to think how it should be more cost efficient. I agree
67 Tomorrow’s lawyers will need to be more “in-tune” with tomorrow’s clients (i.e. as opposed to what many lawyers do, today, which is to pontificate and fail to listen) I agree
69 The More-For-Less challenge will require routine and repetitive legal tasks to be outsourced. I agree
71 Some in-house lawyers are asking firms to bid against one another I support this approach, recognizing it is far from palatable, today, for most law firms.
75 The world’s leading 100 law firms are sustained very largely by the world’s top 1,000 businesses: if and when GCs (general counsel) become radically more demanding, they will have the power to reshape this top echelon of firms. I agree
79 Most lawyers are in denial of the fundamental and structural changes within the legal marketplace I agree.  In the words of William Gibson, “the future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”
80 Insurance online auctions for legal services will be used more frequently I agree
100 Virtual hearings will become commonplace in due course I agree
113 I expect lawyers to extend their capabilities by becoming increasingly multidisciplinary (e.g. strategists, management consultants, business advisers, market experts, etc.), with expertise beyond the black letter law. I agree
125 Law firms and in-House lawyers will increasingly allocate decomposed tasks I agree
128 Clearspire (apparently shut down in 2014).  May re-deploy its custom-built platform, “Coral.” Refer to ABA journal, May 1 2015. “Clearspire Redux: The law firm is dead—long live its technology.”
150 The running themesof this book:  more-for-less pressure, liberalization, and technology. Agreed.
153 An interesting question to ask a law firm:  “What is the formal process by which your firm monitors emerging technologies and evaluates their potential for your various practice areas?” Few firms have such a process
158 Author uses analogy about whole in the wall (i.e. photograph of a gleaming power drill), to remind reader about the whole in the legal world.  The questions are:  what value, what benefits, do clients really seek when they instruct lawyers? I agree
163 George Bernard Shaw’s quote:  “all professions are conspiracies against the laity.” The author observes two distinct camps (in the legal industry):  the benevolent custodians and the jealous guards. I agree
163 Author is vocal against those in the legal community whose primary concern is themselves and threats to their income and self-esteem. I agree
164 Author implorestomorrow’s lawyers to take the “mantle of the benevolent custodians.” As the author suggests, it is not the purpose of law to keep lawyers in business.
164 Author uses quote from Alan Kay:  “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”  This is a powerful message for tomorrow’s lawyers. This point/principle is certainly valid across a variety of industries.
165 Author’s final words to young lawyers:  “you are on your own:  forge new paths for the law.” Logical ending to the book.