2018 and beyond: Our legal futures…

Posted by Chris Davidson, a director at Legal Futures Associate Moore Legal Technology

Davidson: Increasingly competitive legal services marketplace

It’s that time of year again. Thinking about what’s gone before us and planning for the future – looking at what we do, how we do it, and more importantly, who we do it for.

The last 10 years or so have seen the legal sector go through a period of unprecedented change, a period of change that shows no sign of abating any time soon. While ‘Tesco Law’ hasn’t brought Armageddon to the high street, (as I was told it would during the very first law firm conference I attended back in 2010), without doubt, for the vast majority of those in practice, the legal sector is a very different place to what it was in 2007, pre-economic downturn.

We attended the Legal Futures Innovation Conference in London last November. While the whole day was of great interest, one session that really piqued our interest was the debate between Richard Collins of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Simon Davis from the Law Society entitled ‘The Great Divide’.

We heard from both sides about what the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination would mean for the legal sector. Fairer access to the profession for people from all backgrounds, said the SRA. Not so, countered the Law Society, more of an unnecessary risk that could diminish the profession.

That’s a debate for another day and there’s plenty of information available on the subject on the SRA and Law Society websites, not to mention industry standard platforms such as Legal Futures.

And with the SRA pushing further changes within the profession, how will the market look when practising solicitors are delivering unreserved services to the public from unregulated organisations, or when solicitors are able to establish their own firms as soon as they qualify etc?

We don’t know for sure, but we can say with some certainly that we are going to be looking at an increasingly competitive legal services marketplace.

Will the market be flooded by a younger, more entrepreneurial class of solicitor, driven by effective use of technology and operating in a way that is far more flexible and scalable than their more traditional counterparts? Will other sectors start to muscle in on the legal services market in the way that we might have anticipated back in 2011.

What isn’t in doubt is the need for law firms, and the way legal services are delivered in general, to change. To survive and prosper in a rapidly changing landscape, law firms are going to have to adapt their processes and practices.

As do we.

We’re tremendously excited about the direction in which we feel the legal services market might go, how we believe that we can help new entrants to market grow their business, and how we can help existing clients and new, more traditional law firm clients, increase their turnover, improve their efficiency and future proof their businesses.

Richard Susskind and others have long predicted a future of artificial intelligence-based legal business, commoditisation and outsourcing, internet-based practice, and whole new categories of legal jobs.

And how will AI, gamification, service automation, and marketing automation affect the legal sector in the months and years ahead? We don’t know for certain, but we’re having fun researching, developing, trying, occasionally failing, and trying again.

Change is coming. Is your law firm prepared for this? Maybe, maybe not. If you’d like an informal chat about your law firm’s readiness to face the challenges, or indeed, embrace the opportunities that lie ahead, please give us a call.


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