We are living through a unique period of human history, an intense period of deep change and disruption that may never be repeated. A seismic shift in living and thinking is taking place due to the rapid and all-embracing introduction of new technologies to daily life, which has changed the way we communicate, work, shop, socialize and do almost everything else.
The Internet is omnipresent, always delivering quick and stimulating content. Between the years 2000 and 2015, the number of people with access to the Internet increased almost sevenfold – from 6.5 % to 43% of the global population.
The changes which are taking place apply also to the legal industry and these changes are particularly deep. This is the case across the world.
The legal industry for many years has been relatively insulated from the market forces and never undergone any profound changes. Now the law, but also other professional services like management consulting or PR agencies are just at the foothills of a painful process which other industries underwent 20-30 years ago focusing on very lean production and very efficient ways of running their business. The legal industry is going through a period of profound changes and it should also result in making professional services much, much more efficient.
The most significant factors are the impact of new technology, globalization but also things like the regulatory environments. For instance in the UK the regulatory environment’s now changed so non-lawyers can invest in law firms. That’s bringing innovation. That’s also bringing people into the law, people who do not think like lawyers. They think like businesspeople, and they have novel ideas about how legal services should be delivered.
The above changes are combined with much more competition than we have ever seen before. That’s only going to increase. And the impact of competition means that if law firm is not going to be flexible enough and to adapt to what the clients are saying they want, the clients can always go somewhere else.
Industrialization of law is fact. Speaking this year at the IBA conference in Washington D.C., the chairman of the Bar MsDoerries QC said:
"Contemporary society is a world in which technological innovation, or the tech revolution, is undoubtedly changing rapidly the way we live our lives and how we work. This is the case across the world. It has been said that in the next 18 months we will experience change at a pace equivalent to that of the last 20 years. As lawyers we must be prepared for these changes. It is not a matter of choice. Whether as individuals we like these changes or not, we cannot afford to ignore them.”
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