Three Things Rapidly Changing How We Practice Law
For lawyers - really, so many of us regardless of industry - these times . . . they are a changin’.
Are you ready?
Part of feeling ready to practice law in the 21st century is identifying how and why things are changing.
We did the heavy lifting for you; here are just three things rapidly changing how we practice law.
You may have heard the phrase “legal tech revolution”. What that basically means is that legal technology solutions are taking the robot out of lawyers freeing them to spend more time as creative problem solvers versus rote miners of data.
Here’s the thing: this legal tech disruption which is happening on all fronts (if don’t believe us, check out LawGeex 2018 Legal Tech Buyers’ Guide), is tied directly to a wide-scale adoption. No surprise there.
So, think of it this way: the disruptiveness of legal tech is only possible IF a proposed solution is used efficiently.
And the struggle is real: clients expect lawyers to be tech-savvy, but the cost of becoming a tech savant decreases the time lawyers have to focus on revenue-generating activities.
(You heard it here first.)
Law firms - both big and small - are adopting work-from-home policies because these same firms are changing the way they use space. A lot of that has to do with preparing for the economic realities of growing a law practice.
Think of it like this: law firms want to use uniform, office sizes for partners and associates; they want to decrease office footprints to reflect the reality that a lawyer’s office can be shared with another lawyer in the same firm; and open workstations are available for lawyers and staff depending on their practice area and needs.
As lawyers and law firms confront the space evolution, they are challenged by finding a balance between the social conformity of the traditional long-term lease in Class A office space versus the economic reality that space does not drive revenue.
A modern reality is that clients don’t care where their lawyers are.
They just want their lawyers to be there when they need them.
THE GOOD OL’ BUSINESS MODEL
Thomson Reuters’ 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market outlines a decade of fundamental changes marked by a change in client attitudes coupled with a shift to a “buyer’s” market for legal services.
That same report also includes findings that show the demand for legal services has remained relatively flat over the last 10 years. The only factor that has impacted revenue growth has been the ability to raise the hourly rate for legal services by two to three percent every year.
The problem: realization rates are declining (What’s that mean? Clients aren’t paying as consistently for higher rate work.)
All this contributes to the shift in the law practice business model we’ve known for (almost) ever - the billable hour pricing model.
This is leading to not only the erosion of the traditional law firm enterprise, but also the rise in market segmentation.
These changes are, in fact, ideological and cultural shifts to how we practice law; yes, they’re big. But, they’re good - this kind of change is a good thing.
Because let’s be real honest, generally-speaking, lawyers and law firms haven’t been crushing it on the fronts that matter; fronts like diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, client service, community involvement.
Faced with this new, fresh reality, lawyers have a wonderful opportunity to re-imagine how and why they practice law, which can only positively impact the perception of lawyers in their respective communities.