Welcome to the new world of legal services
The Closed Market (20th century to mid 2000’s)
Lawyers = only source of legal knowledge.
Lawyers don’t undercut each other.
Rise of bloated system based on billable hours.
Legal technology aids but does not change how lawyers do business.
Professional training offered on the job at client expense.
The Breached Market (2008-2016)
Growth of “do it yourself” legal cures.
Financial pressure forces outsourcing of legal services.
Legal technology disruptive, replacing traditional lawyering roles.
Overpriced firms cut positions to maintain profitability.
Providers, targeting lower or higher level legal work, distinguish themselves.
The Fully Open Market (2016-2024)
Only a small, high value portion of legal work is reserved for lawyers.
Legal tools and knowledge are almost universally available online.
Self-governance by lawyers made much stricter, to reinforce the small, highly skilled lawyer class.
“Non-lawyers” fill many legal niches bringing extreme efficiency and lower prices.
Expanding Market (2019+)
Lower prices opens up vast legal market.
Demand for lawyers, in new role reappears.
Emergence of “legal insurance” like home owner’s insurance grows.
Commoditization of legal services is widespread.
New industry standards established.
Small number of elite firms thrive on handling high stakes, highly renumerative work.
Groups of lawyers work on project basis under senior project management.
Lawyers use their critical minds not just to work on cases, but to reinvent their industry’s role.
The future is today: the breached market
It’s more of a business than a profession
The notoriously inefficient “billable hours” are being phased out.
In 2009: 72.8% of payment for outside council were…
Fixed: Total fees are quoted before a project begins, regardless of hours.
Blended: Rate is an average of the rates of every attorney at a firm.
Or Capped: A minimum and maximum rate allows for parties to change their minds as to the proper course of action.
Alternative Legal Services
Legal self-help sites
Offshore legal vendors
Personal and small business transactions
Computer based evidence can now be discovered in court.
Leading to massive growth in IT for legal services.
The corporate bar:
Near full employment continues to deal with Wall Street scandals.
High Brow: a few firms span the financial centers of the world, boasting over $2mil profit per partner
Low Brow: Firms like Pangea3 recruit large teams of Indian lawyers to do grunt work that young lawyers in America used to do, at a fraction of the cost.1/10-1/3 of the cost of billable hours.
Which allows clients to avoid high priced jurisdictions.
4 generations in the workforce
Generation x (1963-1980)
Generation Y (1981-1994)
With each generation’s unique disposition shifting the legal paradigm.
The breached market changes are sticking
[change/% thinks temporary/%not sure/%thinks permanent]
Focus on improved practice efficiency:very little/very little/95.8%
More Price Competition:5.1%/very little/91.6%
More commoditized legal work:very little/11.7%/83.6%
Fewer Support staff:13%/6.5%/80.5%
More non-hourly billing:5.6%/14.4%/80%
Competition from “non-lawyers:”7.1%/20.3%/72.6%
Fewer Equity Partners:15.5%/16.9%/67.6%
More Contract Lawyers:8.9%/24.9%/66.2%
Smaller annual billing rate increase:25.7%/12.6%/61.7%
Smaller first-year classes:28.2%/16.4%/55.4%
Slowdown in growth of profits per partner:31.3%/21%/47.7%
Outsourcing Legal Work:13.6%/40.8%/45.5%
Holding the line on associate salaries:60.7%/17.8%/21.5%
For Legal Services, the Future is Here.