Saturday, October 17, 2009

Article on the future of lawyering

Richard Susskind has written a book called "The End of Lawyers?" in which he expresses his views on the state of the legal profession and the outlook for the future. Here is a link to a short article in which he discusses the book and his conclusions, which include his idea that law practice will soon consist of five different types of lawyers:

The first will be the "expert trusted adviser." This is the provider of bespoke legal service. The arguments of my book suggest that market pressures will generally discourage lawyers from handling matters in a bespoke manner wherever this is possible. Instead, standardized or computerized service will be preferred. However, on some occasions bespoke work will be unavoidable.

The second category of lawyer for the future is the "enhanced practitioner." This is the individual whose legal skills and knowledge are required not to deliver a bespoke service but, enhanced by modern techniques, to support the delivery of standardized, systematized and (when in-house) packaged legal service.

The third category of lawyer will be the "legal knowledge engineer." Since legal services will be increasingly standardized and (in various ways) computerized, this is the category of people who are going to be needed to organize the large quantities of complex legal content and processes that will need to be analyzed, distilled and then embodied in standard working practices and computer systems.

The fourth category will be the "legal risk manager." The job description of this category of lawyer is to avoid legal problems than resolve them.

Finally, the fifth category of future lawyers is the "legal hybrid", who will be superbly schooled and genuinely expert in other related disciplines and will be able to extend the range of the services they provide in a way that adds value to their clients.

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