What does the future hold? To quote Nobel laureate Niels Bohr, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” And given all the ongoing change in both the legal profession and the marketing world, it must take a certain level of foolhardiness to attempt to tackle the subject of the future of legal marketing. And yet, there are sufficiently strong indications of where things are going that I felt I was on solid ground in my recent presentation, “The Future of Law Firm Marketing and Business Development.” Of course, I wasn’t predicting the imminent end of the world, or even The End of Lawyers (although I did mention Richard Susskind’s excellent and thought-provoking book of the same name).
The theme for the June 9 presentations at the Denver Bar Association was The Future of the Law, and the format was in the style of the tech-industry’s fast-paced, five-minute Ignite presentations. Obviously, it’s absurd to try to address such a complex topic in such a superficial way. But it did make it fun. And even given the mandated 15-second limit for each slide, and the speaker slip-ups and the lack of time to correct misstatements, some points worth considering can nonetheless emerge within the Ignite format. But don’t just take my word for it; see what you think and share your thoughts.
“In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.”
— Michael McFaul, National Security Council
We are in the midst of a true revolution in the delivery of legal services. And upon reading that, it’s likely that you will fall into one of two camps: those who have already heard the guns firing and who are nodding their heads in agreement, and those who dismiss all the warnings of imminent change as excessive and overwrought.
If you’re part of the first group, I look forward to hearing your reports from the front lines. If you’re part of the second group, and it strikes you as hyperbole that anything could really change the legal industry in this country, in our lifetimes, please read on. Because many of those sounding the alarms happen to be more Paul Revere than Chicken Little.
Take Bruce MacEwen, for one. If you don’t know Bruce, you should. He is the talent behind the thought-provoking Adam Smith, Esq. blog, which looks at far-reaching trends in the legal profession. As the name of his blog implies, he is interested in the business and economics of law. Forgive me for stealing from the old E.F. Hutton ads, but when Bruce speaks, people listen.
And so, when Bruce said, “Outsourcing is here to stay” in a recent post, it’s worth paying attention. He was not talking about software development. He was talking about legal services that have always been provided by top-tier law firms to their corporate clients. But now there’s a new vendor of legal services in the room and it’s not a traditional law firm. It’s another animal altogether that some have labeled Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO).
Bruce continues, “Whatever you call it, and whatever you think of its quality, clients have tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree and they’re not going back. If document review can be conducted by Ivy League law school grads…for $50/hour instead of $350/hour, what’s not for a client to like?”