Saturday, December 12, 2015

Less Talk of Disruption, More Talk of Creation

There is a natural tendency in people to lament what is familiar and good but now fading away. We are in one of these cycles in law, largely because law firms and law schools are no longer on the familiar path of smooth and steady growth.  As a group, lawyers are very good at being pessimistic and dour.  But enough already.  We're intelligent people.  It's time to move on.

WaisbergIf you're looking for intelligent, constructive, realistic ways to view the future of the legal industry, I would commend you to Noah Waisberg's guest post over at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. Waisberg is CEO of Kira Systems, which deploys technology to assist in corporate M&A and contract management.  Waisberg is also a lawyer.  Nonetheless, he sees tremendous opportunity in law to do both good and well.  In his own words:

Law practice today is a land of opportunity. This is due to the combination of

  1. underserved legal consumers, and
  2. technologies and processes that make legal work more efficient, which make serving these consumers possible.

Lawyers who embrace efficiency have the opportunity to do more law for their clients. And make more money in the process.

We lawyers sell to a market that is not getting anywhere close to all the legal services it needs.  Underserved legal consumers fall into three categories:

  1. Access to Justice. People without means to pay premium prices for a lawyer needing access to legal services.
  2. Middle class legal needs. Many decently-well-off people don't spend money on legal services that would help them. How many people use lawyers to resolve their disputes, negotiate their employment contracts or write their wills?
  3. Corporates. Most companies, even the biggest ones, do not obtain anywhere close to all the legal services they need.

This spread between latent demand and supply represents opportunity to sell more. Unfortunately the current techniques for delivering and selling legals services are so expensive and inefficient that these underserved consumers can't or won't pay for them.

My hats off to Waisberg for seeing through and past the dominant narrative to find the reset button.  If we focus on the needs of clients and customers, rather than what is going away and being lost, we can begin to see the future.  And it's a good one.

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