What’s The Future Of Law? 26 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 28 June 2019
  • Sam Mire

There's no crystal ball for the legal industry, just as there's none for life. That said, industry trends don't arise out of the ether — they develop over time. These trends collectively form the basis for estimations about what the future of the legal industry will look like. 

These industry insiders have studied the trends, and they lent us their insights into the future of law. Take a look:

1. Erin Levine, founder of Hello Divorce

“Clients also pushing back – especially millennial clients who want transparent information and cost and flexible methods of communication and billing. Innovative lawyers are exploring alternatives to the traditional law firm model to cut down on their own stress (chasing the billable hour), and build passive income opportunities and/or consistent revenue generation with subscription type services.”


2. Dylan Wiseman, Attorney at Buchalter Law Firm

Dylan Wiseman“I predict a large portion of Family Law – which is largely driven by formulas and equations – which will disappear and be handled by non-lawyers who can run the calculations for child support, spousal support, custodial time.”

 


3. Jay Arcata, Lawyer and VP of Client Relations at BX3 Capital

“The future of the legal industry continues to unfold, as we are seeing the Big Four accounting firms continue to gain global market share in the  legal services sector. Over the past several years, the Big Four have risen to become the most serious competition to traditional providers of legal services. In the United States, ethics laws generally prevent lawyers and law firms from sharing fees with non-lawyer (e.g. accounting firms) and prevent lawyers and non-lawyers from partnering if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law. There are signs that some states, including California, could be considering relaxing these ethics laws, which could open the floodgates for the Big Four on the domestic front.”


4. Nance L. Schick, Attorney/Mediator at The Law Studio of Nance L. Schick

“The future of the legal industry (at least in the United States) is diversity, not just in the genders, races, religions, gender identities, and abilities of the industry's workforce, but in the dispute resolution processes available to parties. We have relied heavily on litigation in courts and administrative forums for too long. We must reduce backlogs and increase access to justice for parties regardless of socioeconomic status. We must incorporate other options inside and outside the courts. Arbitration will continue to be an option, although an expensive one that too closely mirrors court processes for some parties. Court-mandated mediation will also continue, but parties will also increasingly choose private mediation, online dispute resolution, ombuds services, coaching, and training to take advantage of the full range of services available. Attorneys will need to become more familiar with these services, as they will become either competition or opportunities.”


5. Bryan Porter, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Alexandria, Virginia

“In the future, law enforcement will continue to be presented with technological advances that can help investigations. Police and prosecutors absolutely must approach these advances with caution, questioning their efficacy and demanding evidence of accuracy.”

 


6. Philip Kabler, Professor at the University of Florida, Partner at Bogin, Munns, and Munns

“The media discusses the role of artificial intelligence in legal services, but high-tech AI is missing the high-touch element. Law schools graduates develop an array of research-directed knowledge, skills and abilities. In the past, lawyers manually applied those KSAs by referencing books and journals. Now lawyers are enabled to use e-resources. Is that process more efficient? Lawyers still must think about facts, law, and outcomes. The future of the actual legal industry will, then, require conscious attention by attorneys. Resources increase, and time compresses, but high-tech will remain a subordinate to the human mind. Therefore, High-Touch > High-Tech.”


7. Brian McGovern, Executive Director at Mitratech

“The future of the legal industry lies with the thought leaders and innovators who focus on a particular use case, solve a specific business need and dive in deeply on the benefits. They will find a balance between the need and the risks. They will achieve significant value, and they will take their learnings and apply them to the next business need. Trying to share all data, or unleash AI unfettered in a legal department will lead to naysayers, fear and no progress. Well-designed, aggressive, but not reckless approaches, will lead to the many steps of great innovation.”


8. Andrew Pery, Marketing Executive at ABBYY

“The legal profession is at a critical inflection point where disruptive technologies such as machine learning and AI technologies are poised to transform how legal work gets done.”

 


9. Ryan Steadman, Chief Revenue Officer at Zero

“Law firms and attorneys must grasp the potential of advanced technologies associated with artificial intelligence (AI) to transform their workflows and processes and to free highly skilled attorneys to focus on what they do best. If not, this blind spot will make it much harder for firms to sustain profitability in a fast-paced marketplace that is increasingly competitive, global and digital. The shift must be made to the automation of the majority of manual decision-making processes through administrative AI-based tools that can help a law firm bill accordingly with greater realization rates and profit margins.”


10. Lin McCraw, Owner of The McCraw Law Group

“The legal industry will continue to have pressure for corporate ownership/management of law firms. Big insurance has exerted muscle to “own” law firms within their companies. I see that trend continuing to expand creating new conflicts for lawyers to navigate and new efficiencies for corporate law practices. AI will lessen the need for lawyers to provide routine, non-specialized services and advise. This will in turn continue to power the trend of sub specialization within the legal field to deliver better results faster to clients. Lawyers will have to be experts in their fields to survive. General practitioners and lawyers not embracing business systems to deliver legal services and market those services will be utterly and completely left behind.”


11. David Carns, Chief Revenue Officer at Casepoint

David Carns“Law firms and legal departments will make much more extensive use of integrated technology and adopt measurable, repeatable business practices at every level of their operations to leverage the science of their profession more effectively. Legal organizations have a well-deserved reputation for inefficient use of technology and business processes at scale. But in today’s hypercompetitive legal marketplace, this dynamic will have to change.

By incorporating appropriate advanced technological innovations into legal workflows, law firms and legal departments will become more efficient, gain tight control over costs and achieve more predictable and consistent results, enabling more creative work and better outcomes by legal teams.”


12. Lance J. Robinson, Owner and Lead Attorney at The Law Office of Lance J. Robinson

“The availability of more and more data will change the legal industry,
along with the rest of the world. As the Internet has increased the spread of information, we’ve seen more and more data become available over the years. Today, between emails, social media, websites, texting, and cloud storage, there is a wealth of information online for lawyers to contend with. The need to comb through this information should lead to more sophisticated technology and discovery processes in the legal industry.”


13. Kim Wright, Cutting Edge Law

“So often legal innovation is viewed from a technological lens. I love new technology. I tend to see technology as a tool. The metaphor I like: The legal system is a house: a framework, a container, and a place to go for legal issues. Technology is like the tools which build and maintain the house: necessary but not the point. AI will likely take on the monotonous tasks and what will be left will be the real innovation: the issues of what makes our metaphorical house a home: the people who live there and their quality of life.”


14. Dean P. Sperling, Esq., Attorney at the Law Office of Dean P. Sperling 

“The future appears to be a “shake out” amongst those licensed to practice. There have been discussions regarding the restrictive nature of licensing of attorneys versus the need to assure the quality of those representing the public in our courts. Regardless of how that discussion eventually ends up, the ability of individuals to represent themselves in court aided by websites and services means less work for individual attorneys and creates downward pressure on the fees. Business clients are no longer willing to pay high fees for the work performed and look for flat fees or limits on total fees. The foregoing will act as pressure on the legal market making the investment to become an attorney less attractive lessening the number of attorneys entering the industry.”


15. Josh Taylor, Attorney and Lead Content Strategist at Smokeball 

“The future of the legal industry will involve technology automating and assisting with standard repetitive work. Lawyers are going to realize that they need to step in up in terms of technology innovation in order to keep up with other industries that have been quick to accept new technologies.

Internationally, such as in Australia where non-lawyer business professionals have ownership stakes in law practices, firms have already made great progress with implementing tech, and it is clear that American  lawyers are feeling the push to become more innovative to attract and keep clients while staying financially competitive.”


16. Michael Elkins, Litigation Attorney at MLE Law

“Complete disruption. The legal business model has remained largely unchanged for over 100 years. Lawyers bill for every second and every communication, not matter how brief. That’s archaic. With modern ease and efficiency of communication, lawyers are going to have to adjust their business model. Clients don’t want to be billed for every text, email or call (and they shouldn’t be). Clients also don’t want to pay for traditional brick-and-mortar office space. Lawyers don’t need traditional offices. Clients know that, and they don’t want to pay for it. The future is concierge services, lower billing rates, and no more fancy brick-and-mortar offices.”

17. Jim Wagner, CSO at Seal Software

“Technology (in particular AI) and the ongoing unbundling of legal services,
will change the profile of “legal professionals” as well as the demand for
qualified attorneys in general. Much like the medical profession (where we see higher ratio of physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, etc.) we will see a significant shift to the use of legal support professionals with outstanding technology skills and a decline in the demand for qualified attorneys.”


18. Pieter Gunst, CEO and co-founder at Legal.io

“The future of the legal industry is one of transparency and liquidity. Over the past 50 years, technology companies have empowered end-users to transact with one another faster, more efficiently, and more transparently: Transportation (Uber, Lyft), Social (Twitter, LinkedIn), and Work (Slack, Asana)..

Despite this shift in virtually every industry, professional services industries have remained largely unaffected. The fields of medical, academia, and legal have remained unaffected by the the software and marketplaces that have eaten other industries. In professional services – prices and quality metrics are still either opaque or artificially inflated/skewed. At Legal.io, we believe big data about expertise and pricing will inject a level of transparency that will set the stage for a true marketplace to emerge.”


19. Zachary Strebeck, Attorney at the Strebeck Law Firm

“The future of the legal industry is about flexibility for both the attorney and the client. This means flexible payment setups (like flat fee billing), remote and virtual offices, and connecting through the Internet rather than the yellow pages.”

 


20. Sun Dahan, Associate Director at the Law Office of Matthew J. Kidd

“One big change is the value for money or efficiency from demanding clients. Clients had enough paying for postage, parking, emails or phone calls and see no benefits in having glamorous opulent offices and a luxury car. Client expectations are growing and they expect a better and more modern experience, delivery and overall service from their attorney or firm.”


21. Candess Zona-Mendola,  Senior Trial Paralegal at The Lange Law Firm 

Candess Zola-Mendola“I think virtual support staff are the future of the field. As a paralegal, I have been keeping my eye on the trends on my profession, and with law firms working longer hours and offering nights/weekends to their staff, the demand for virtual support staff is bigger than ever. I am seeing several different kinds of paralegal agencies and freelance paralegals pop up offering legal support work from afar, with competitive prices. Some law firms have found that having paralegals in the office and out can be beneficial to ensuring productivity essentially never ends. It is still pretty new though, and I am sure there are still some issues to work out.”


22. Bryan Lawson, Director of Marketing at Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law

“Law firms will become more attorney-centric, shifting to operational structures that give each lawyer increased flexibility to meet their unique goals, personalities, and financial needs. Right now, firms of all sizes and across regions face tightening markets and slowed growth, with expenses outpacing revenue. As a result, law firms must think more like businesses—by putting talent first and competing on incentives. That means prioritizing attorney and client fit early on; offering objective, transparent compensation packages for attorneys with portable books of business; investing in attorney development, and other engaging in other practices that attract rather than alienate new graduates and lateral hires.”


23. Michael Dye, Attorney at the Law Offices of Michael A. Dye

“LegalZoom & other legal forms services have completely eliminated certain areas of business that were handled by most general practitioners. I could rely on 2 or 3 simple wills per month when I was starting my practice 15 years ago. It was beer & peanuts money, but I like beer and peanuts. I haven't drafted a simple will in well over 5 years. Technology is eliminating non-litigation jobs in the legal industry.”


24. Matthew Segal, Trial Attorney at The Segal Law Firm

“As an attorney in NYC, I see recent changes in the legal industry known for
hesitation in embracing change and technology. Technology is now being used
to connect more with clients and to keep them actively engaged and educated
in their cases. This can include giving case updates, scheduling appointments, sending photos, and communicating small bits of information quickly. The use of social media will be more prevalent as a marketing strategy which should allow for smaller firms to compete with the behemoth firms. By using social media lawyers can get in front of their target audience and provide value by educating them and keeping their practice in the public eye.”


25. Dustin Bolander, CIO at Clear Guidance Partners

“I have been doing CIO & technology strategy consulting for law firms the last several years. The big transformation I am seeing is that technology is suddenly moving at a rapid pace, whereas the industry has really stagnated the last several years when it comes to tech.”


26. Raees Mohamed, co-founder and Partner at RM Warner Law

“The future of the legal industry is shifting in focus from traditional legal issues to Internet-related issues. As social media & Internet business grows, the law will need to adapt around it in order to create new legal methods to solve problems. For example, consider the complexity of e-commerce businesses like Amazon or the expansion of the esports industry. Traditional lawyers may not have the understanding to address these novel topics, as they are uncharted. But as the Internet continues to evolve, so will opportunities for new legal remedies to develop.”

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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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