America, Land of endless opportunities and entrepreneurs, or so, I thought. How come the English will bring entrepreneurial spirit to the delivery of legal services? In his keynote address at Law Tech Camp London last week, Richard Susskind said that the Legal Services Act will “give rise to new ways of working that will be of interest to general counsel and clients around the world.” The new legislation allows English firms to seek external investment and bring in business people rather than just lawyers. This will lead to a proper business approach including process optimization and the use of technology, believes Susskind. The legal profession cannot continue to ignore the importance of technology: With the Internet transforming businesses, the economy, and society in general, Susskind argues that lawyers cannot continue to argue that these changes don’t apply to them. It might just be time to rethink the way we work and how we educated young lawyers. Data-driven analysis and data-mining, project management, knowledge management, process analysis etc. should be included in law school curricula. Not as electives, but as compulsory courses.
This is more important than ever, since companies press in-house legal departments for further cost reductions. There is no way to do this without properly understanding your own data and analysis of processes. Susskind criticizes that alternative fee arrangements today are just “repackaging of the traditional proposition”, but by and large do not address how to work differently. Processes need to be reconsidered and redesigned, firms need to distinguish between tasks that require qualified lawyers, and those that don’t. What is the optimal staffing?
The future for lawyers aren’t the “bespoke” one-to-one consultative advisory services on an hourly billing basis, says Susskind. The future is the interface between law and technology. Silicon Valley (and elsewhere) — this is your moment to combine law and tech with an entrepreneurial spirit! Happy 4th of July.