Law’s Delayed Future May Be Ending

Law's Delayed Future

Law’s delayed future is a product of tremendous historically-ingrained inertia. Indeed, the evolution of legal practice is more sloth-like than other professions that have embraced change – sometimes through continuous improvement and sometimes in fits and starts. But the practice of law, and those who closely clutch “the old ways”, may be in for a rude awakening in the coming years. Not only have we seen glimmers of transformational change in the legal profession outside of the United States, but experiments that change the practice of law and those involved in it are occurring in many jurisdictions within the United States.

At the same time, the latest wave of disruptors are dead set on disintermediating law and bringing it kicking and screaming into the future. While not all of the current efforts will succeed – especially given difficult economic times – the writing on the wall indicates that the coming years may see the practice of law dragged forward despite its historical resistance. Artificial intelligence, increasing regulatory pressures towards access and efficiency, and the myriad of advanced and well-funded LegalTech ventures aiming at a slice of the legal budget pie are all factors that may put an end to law’s delayed future. As a recent article in Legal Mosaic points out, the time may be ripe for the business function to finally pull legal into the modern age.

““The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed” observed William Gibson, the noted science fiction writer. He was not referring to the legal industry but could have been. While there is no shortage of self-proclaimed “disruptors,” “innovators,” and “visionaries” in the legal space, the industry is a digital laggard, misaligned with the needs of business and society. Law is an analog function in a digital world. Why is the legal industry clutching the short end of the future stick? After all, lawyers are highly educated, trained to think critically, and high- achievers….Law’s insularity has produced a cosmetic brand of legal change that is more for show and internal efficiency than paradigmatic change that positively impacts clients, business, and society. That is what will raise the curtain on law’s future.”

Read: Law’s Delayed Future at Legal Mosaic