The legal profession has for long been notoriously averse to change, but now even the legal industry is affected by a new harsher reality with widespread changes impacting legal practice and client service. These changes come not merely from the aftermath of the economic downturn with price pressure and increased demands from clients, but also from the technological developments and regulatory changes that provide breeding ground for new kinds of competition. This post discusses the future of legal service, with a specific focus on how the current changes on the legal market demand a more strategic approach to knowledge management and efficient working processes and how technology is becoming more and more important as a way to develop new innovative ways to deliver legal services.
1. CHANGING LEGAL MARKET
For a long time, the legal market has been spared from some of the general business realities applicable to almost all other industries. Law has been something of a protected industry, with lawyers in a unique position as the only legitimate provider with access to legal knowledge and tools and no real competition – a “black box” exempt from normal rules of business, such as predictability in cost and time, budget restraints and value for money. After selection, the relationship with the client was controlled by the law firm, which decided almost entirely by itself how the service was to be delivered, billing it by the hour and dictating cost, pricing, staffing and strategic direction, with no need to innovate or provide cost-efficient legal services. Jordan Furlong has described this closed market more in detail and how the legal marketplace now is changing, in the series “The evolution of the legal services market stage 1-5”
- Stanford Legal Design Lab