New thought leaders. New paradigms. New providers. New ways to get better results. There’s a lot of “new” out there these days. Yes, the legal landscape is changing. I think all of this is well-said in a post by Jordan Furlong, which quotes from a Seth Godin piece on the legal community needing to be ready for change… and that historically it has been very difficult for the legal community to do so. So much is invested in the way things have always been done, and less thought and effort was traditionally put into looking ahead to see how to adapt, improve and excel in new environments.
In the past, it boiled down to this: Why change if there’s no pressure to do so?
Today, I think the issues have an orbit around a very different question: I need to change, but how do I do it?
This is a pretty dramatic leap for the legal profession, and a question that touches almost every area of both business and practice: the way teams function; defining value to legal work; hourly rates; alternative fee arrangements; taking more work in-house; collaboration; ESI policies; coordinated discovery responses; centralized e-discovery counsel; technology, software, and hardware; project management; data-based decision-making; documented protocols; resource allocation and definition; repeatable processes; quantifiable cost savings; etc., etc., etc. These issues rattle the core of how legal work has traditionally been handled.
Change is simultaneously difficult and exciting and, in the case of the legal profession, very necessary. In fact, it’s very rare to see anyone involved in the legal profession – whether in-house, law firm, service provider, or vendor – publicly say that change isn’t necessary (and usually “dramatic” or "seismic" is prominently involved in the statement somewhere). It also means that there are more people with “change” roadmaps for sale than every before.
As Furlong’s post states, there will be more casualties as we embark on this journey. That’s the rule, not the exception. That's not a bad thing, is it? If you can’t help clients change and improve, there’s really no room for you in the new legal marketplace anyway.