There have been a number of recent conferences focused on the future of law practice and the delivery of legal services. It's too bad I can't attend them all!
Someone recently reminded me of a time I was invited to speak to the ABA's Bar Leadership Institute, the annual training for bar presidents and presidents elect. Several of us were asked to do Ted-style short talks on the future of law practice. If talking to a large gathering of accomplished lawyers who had been chosen as leaders by their peers wasn't intimidating enough, my talk followed one by then ABA President William C. Hubbard.
I decided to watch the video again, fully prepared to cringe at how dated it might have become since it was delivered in 2015.
But this short talk is still relevant today. Many people look at the challenges of legal services delivery today and blame lawyers for the problems. But lawyers work within the system. Many clients need legal counseling as a part of finding a solution to their legal problems. I remain unconvinced that all of the perceived problems we face today can be solved with for-profit online services, as some of their spokespersons contend. The solutions to many of today's complex problems don't lend themselves to fill-in-the-blank answers. Our population and the complexity of matters handled in our courts has increased while budgets for many courts have been at as standstill level or reduced. Innovation takes time and money.
There is no doubt that business practices for all types of businesses are evolving today. Email replaced much of postal correspondence. That was more efficient and often saved money for the law firm's clients. But now there are email security concerns that never existed with sealed and stamped correspondence. Rapid change has benefits and unintended consequences.
Solo and small firm lawyers help clients across the world every day. While this "Take on the Future" presentation was intended for bar presidents, it is still good for today's lawyers, particularity solo and small firm lawyers. More effectively using digital client files, improving efficiency and automation, particularly automation of the document creation process, should be on their agenda. Serving your client's best interests has always been your mission and it will always be. It's just times and the tools- they are a-changing.