IT & the Lawyer

The future

In a keynote address to the Law Society of England's conference "The Legal Profession in Five Year's Time", Professor Susskind says that lawyers must both brace themselves for the technological revolution which is coming, and embrace it. Legal service provision will be pulled by market forces from the bespoke to the commoditised as illustrated below.

  1. Bespoke, the creation of something never to be reused;
  2. Standardised, which could relate either to using checklists in a process or standard forms in the substance of a transaction;
  3. Systematised, where electronic workflows create and assemble documents, issue reminders etc;
  4. Packaged, by which stage something can be left to non-legal staff to issue, with no real advice-giving function; and
  5. Commoditised, where differences between similar products from different firms are eliminated, an accepted form evolves and the price tends towards zero.

The challenge ultimately will be how to deliver more for less. This can be done in two ways - through efficiency, by cutting costs, commoditising, or multi-sourcing. the other is to collaborate with other firms over the internet and by using the collaborative power of IT.

Lawyers must become "commercially flexible and entrepreneurial" in an age of "relentless connectivity.

Article on Journal online

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