This post is part of our Legal Influencer series where we interview the world's leading legal experts to get their take on the state of the legal industry, the top trends to watch for, and what the future holds.
The following is an interview we recently had with Stacey Burke, law firm business consultant and marketing specialist.
1. How has the legal industry evolved in the past 5 years?
SB: In recent years, due to the greater saturation of digital marketing within even the smallest law firms, the playing field for new client acquisition has leveled out significantly. In that vein, more and more law firms are hiring consultants (like me) or bringing their marketing in-house via part- or full-time marketing coordinators.
2. What are the top legal technology trends you're seeing?
SB: Firms are becoming more agile with regard to switching legal technology, and are therefore less married to/stuck with existing solutions than ever before – this means software companies have to work harder to retain clients and keep them happy. I see lawyers switching case management software, for example, much more often over the past few years.
3. How will AI change the legal industry?
SB: Artificial Intelligence (AI) may eliminate unskilled positions in the legal industry, but it can also help streamline processes like new case intake. Furthermore, lawyers will more easily be able to quantify the various metrics they need to review to keep their businesses profitable and efficient. With regard to work/life balance, many believe AI has the potential to reduce the number of hours lawyers have to work – but to me that could be concerning considering many attorneys make their money through hourly billing.
4. How will blockchain change the legal industry?
SB: Blockchain has a lot of potential and lawyers are very interested in it, but its adoption and use will likely be slow. Lawyers can contract and accept payment via blockchain; lawyers can track digital interactions with various forms of intellectual property via blockchain for their clients; but most importantly:
✅ Lawyers will pave the way for blockchain usage in all other industries because we conduct #legal research, draft contracts, and help new technology move toward systematic regulation.
So basically, this new technology creates a whole new corresponding practice area opportunity.
5. What's the future of Law?
SB: When I first started practicing law, we did our legal research in an actual library with books and kept our client files in redwell folders. Now, those methods are becoming obsolete, and I only expect the practice of law to continue to evolve. The way I see it, every lawyer needs to develop his or her own understanding of how digital marketing and legal technology work, instead of completely relying on outside vendors. Additionally, in order to accommodate the inevitable influx of millennial workers, law firms will need to allow for and encourage more flexible working arrangements.
About Stacey E. Burke
Stacey E. Burke is a licensed Texas lawyer turned law firm business consultant. She practiced maritime litigation, personal injury litigation, and mass tort litigation prior to her consulting career. Stacey has worked with over 100 law firms across the country in a wide range of practice areas, including family law, probate and estate planning, commercial litigation, personal injury, immigration, bankruptcy, mass torts, criminal law, and more. She focuses her attention on providing business consulting services to law firms and legal industry vendors across the country.
She is well known for her effective marketing strategies, especially with regard to social media marketing and advertising and strategic event planning. Stacey speaks publicly on a national basis and is often a featured author on topics including ethics in attorney advertising, legal marketing, business development, and law firm efficiency.
Stacey is a fourth-generation Houstonian, graduating early from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Journalism in Public Relations and obtaining her law degree from The University of Houston Law Center. She lives in Houston with her two daughters and French bulldog and eats a lot of popcorn. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.