Posted by Nigel Wallis, partner at Legal Futures Associate O’Connors
So this is Christmas and what have you done?
Abraham Lincoln once responded to this question by saying he’d become a renowned lawyer, 16th President of the United States, led the nation through a bloody civil war, saved the Union, abolished slavery and modernised the US economy. I bet the interviewer wished instead he’d asked him what he wanted from Santa.
We all know the end of a year is a time to reflect on the year’s triumphs and disasters and, for some, to do some planning for the future.
So to assist, here are some of our predictions for the legal sector over the next 20 years – and we’ll buy you all a drink if we’re proved wrong.
Driverless cars will bring an end to motor accidents and both claimant and defendant RTA lawyers will be seen with their feet up in the back seat reading textbooks on software litigation.
There will be a single regulator for all providers of legal services, whether they be solicitors, barristers, check-out staff or white plastic boxes blinking away in the corner of your living room.
Artificial intelligence will become capable of delivering even the most sophisticated legal advice and avatars will be seen propping up bars in posh London pubs sipping port and telling anecdotes of the olden days when lawyers used to deliberately scare their clients with funny wigs and obscure words from Call My Bluff.
Private equity houses will get their heads round ways of stopping partners drawing out all the firm’s profits to spend on Bentley convertibles and the claret they used to drink before the small claims limit went up.
Managing partners will discover that delivering niche advisory work and high-efficiency process-driven work under the same roof will make for increasingly tetchy conversations at the coffee machine.
Lawyers will start giving away stuff for free, and not just golf umbrellas.
All legal services will be clearly priced up front and Black Friday will not be constrained to Kensington High Street as ‘2-4-1’ conveyances and cut-price January divorces become a feature of our industry – sorry, profession.
B&Q will become a major player in the legal sector as clients adopt a DIY approach to solving their own legal problems using online searches and social media chatrooms.
Rain-makers will emerge as the Strictly Come Dancing stars of the legal world and be photographed in Hello! magazine falling out of nightclubs into the back of smoke-tinted limousines.
Great lawyers who focus on clients’ needs and think outside the box will have a fantastic future and run rings round those new entrants who mistakenly think that selling legal services is just like selling tins of beans.
And finally, with a slightly shorter time-frame in mind, we take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one.