The legal industry is changing fast, and the change is often confusing. Adding to this confusion are the various terms bandied about: law new, legal innovation, legal tech, legal ops and ALSP’s (alternative legal service providers). Each of these has its advocates and critics and is viewed as a separate initiative that will ultimately change the business of law.
All of these initiatives are aimed at improving the way that law is practiced. But to make a real difference, they have to be part of a larger strategic plan that is focused on creating value for legal consumers and society-at-large.
To accomplish this, the industry must adopt a fluid approach to delivery. This means increased collaboration among lawyers, legal ops, in-house and external legal functions, law companies and their clients, and between the legal industry and other professions and industries. It also requires integration of the legal supply chain, erasing artificial, lawyer-created distinctions between provider sources.
This is not a new concept, but it has been largely ignored by the legal industry for too long. In the past, a legal firm focused on reducing costs could achieve its goal by cutting salaries and eliminating positions. This is no longer sufficient in the face of a new economy and the demands of legal consumers.
The future of law is collaborative, transparent, accessible, affordable, efficient, data-backed and solutions-based. The key is a platform-based delivery structure that enables agile, fluid resources with verifiable, material expertise to be rapidly sourced and deployed on demand to meet the most challenging legal challenges. The structure will also enable the legal function and its cross-functional enterprise colleagues to manage risk, identify opportunities, produce better informed decisions, reduce lost opportunity costs and support the broader enterprise in its pursuit of profit.
Many of these changes are happening now, and more are coming. But they won’t be enough on their own to address the needs of the next generation of legal consumers. For this reason, it’s important for all legal professionals to understand how this concept works so that they can leverage its ideas to their advantage. It is an idea that can help any legal firm discover a new way to deliver the kind of help that customers need and that will generate revenue and client satisfaction. It can also help them grow and prosper in a time when many traditional law firms are struggling to survive.