I had the honor last week to accept an award on behalf of our firm for the Most Innovative Use of Technology in a Small Firm at LegalTech New York. As with many of these events, the conversations with others in this space are incredibly valuable. I had the opportunity to learn about the work of CIOs accomplishing huge tech conversions in large firms, innovative ediscovery concepts, large-scale pro bono projects, and the constant work to push the legal education arena forward. This innovative work of both small and large firms is inspiring.
Couple this with the important work of the Richard Susskinds, Marc Lauritsens, Richard Granats, and Stephanie Kimbros of the world (among others), and you see where the profession is moving. Lawyers have to recognize that client expectations have changed and outdated methods of providing services are no longer acceptable. This ranges from those who serve large corporate clients to individual consumers.
Despite this, there is resistance and backlash from lawyers to emerging trends and technologies that appear to fall into the self-preservationist category. I guess this is normal, especially in a profession that is generally slow to change. Those who call this stuff hogwash (I assume that is the applicable term they use) are not helping the public and their clients.
This has further been reiterated through the law practice management course that I am teaching. The course is the first time many of these second or third year law students are discussing and learning about organization processes, client service, practice management technology and different methods of delivering services. Several are working as law clerks or externs in organizations that are scared of the Internet (not emerging trends, the actual Internet). That is wrong but not unusual across the country.
We may not change the behaviors of some existing lawyers, but we at least owe it to the new crop to be equipped once they step out into the profession. I find it interesting that many in the resistant class work tirelessly to “preserve” the profession, but are not looking toward the future to maintain relevancy.
There is a lot of work to do.