(An edited version of this post first appeared in The Times‘s The Brief on 8 January 2016)
As 2015 slides inexorably into 2016, we can ponder what differences this might bring to the world of legal services. The sands are definitely shifting, and the foundations of ‘old law’ continue to crumble as ‘new law’ takes greater hold. Let me explore three themes: demand, supply, and independence.
I’m not going to try here* to cover the waterfront, but rather offer a few observations and reflections on the turn of events that prompts us to be considering so seriously the process that leads to the delivery of legal advice and representation to clients.
Part of the challenge here, it seems to me, lies in the nature of the four principal factors or ‘moving parts’ that form the backdrop to procurement. These are: cost; price; value; and relationship. There are different types of legal services – ranging from highly bespoke and ‘bet-the-company’ issues to routine, standardised and commoditised offerings. And there are different types of procurement – ranging from personal engagement, through professional procurement and tender processes, to buying online with no human interaction at all.
What is clear is that not all types of procurement are appropriate to all types of services. The real issue, as I see it, lies in the potential disconnects among cost, price, value and relationship. There is an inevitable tension between short-term procurement wins and longer-term legal or relationship consequences. There are times or circumstances when cost-cutting just isn’t worth it. Continue reading →
I was privileged earlier this month to be invited to deliver the keynote address at the 2013 Futures Conference organised by the College of Law Practice Management and held at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. My theme was the future of law. The speech is available as a video (starting about 15 minutes in and with microphone on at around 16:30 minutes!). However, I also thought it would be worth writing it up as a paper (which is not a direct transcript). It’s available here.
In summary, the paper addresses three themes: (1) What is Law for? (2) What are lawyers for? (3) The Future. The first two questions to my mind provide necessary answers to the fundamental question, What next for Law? For each theme, I suggest a proposition. The substance of the argument is that both law and lawyers have lost sight of their true purpose and that reconnecting with both is essential to enabling a meaningful and worthwhile future for law.