Two recent articles by respected commentators address the future for law firms.
The American Bar Association’s Law Practice website has published an article called Tomorrow’s Lawyers by Richard Susskind, much of which is a summary – and a useful one – of Susskind’s recent book of the same name. The key messages appear towards the end where Susskind argues that law firms, educators and educational policymakers should be extending training of tomorrow’s lawyers “to encompass new disciplines that…will be central to the delivery of legal services in the future – such as legal risk management, legal project management, legal knowledge engineering and legal process analysis. He recognises that these terms “may sound alien” to many lawyers, but believes that he makes “a strong case for the likely importance in years to come.” So do I..
Jordan Furlong has the knack of producing the meaningful headline which tells you in a few words what the article is about. You don’t need to read beyond the title of The Secretarial Canary in the Law Firm Coal Mine to know that it is about the early warning signs that law firms are, if not necessarily in trouble, at least casting around to save costs. Jordan Furlong’s article is expressed mainly in terms of concern at the way in which law firms are “lashing out” by getting rid of low skilled staff. Why not, he asks, “divert secretaries into…high value and highly necessary roles”. Not doing so is “not just a lost job, but also lost opportunity.”