Wednesday, October 16, 2013
At the recent Futures Conference at Chicago Kent, speakers offered these observations (slightly abridged):
1. In the future, many important aspects of legal representation will not be handled by lawyers, but by others possessing specific skills that will provide value to clients.
2. Lawyers will need to understand and address the tectonic shifts occurring in our society, particularly in the areas of food and water, energy and technology. As a result, lawyers must continue to becomeknowledgeable about the industries they serve and the significant challenges
that these industries face.
3. The key constituency that will decide whether innovations are successful will be at the practice group level — because that’s where real decisions to provide value to clients occur.
4. While innovation has been and will continue to be driven from outside big law firms by market disruptors such as Riverview Law (which won one of the InnovAction Awards presented at the conference), it would be folly to underestimate what larger law firms are doing. As one participant
noted, “Many of these firms are innovating. They’re just not talking about it.”
5. Law schools will have to adapt to the reality that far fewer graduates will enter law firms as traditional associates. Instead, legal educators will have to provide different tracks for lawyers who have a variety of career options, and provide relevant training (not just case law) for those
students. Moreover, law schools may need to consider instituting relevant
programs for those who are not interested in a law degree, but who will be key
service providers in solving legal problems. (Just don’t call them nonlawyers!)
The plenary sessions were videotaped and are available online. You can check them out.