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Jul

4

The Legal Services Industry in 2020

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I thought it would be fun to gaze into my crystal ball and try to predict what the legal services industry would look like in the year 2020. So here I go:

  1. Law firms will take up space within Walmart (in between the optomitrist and the passport photo shop).
  2. Users will be able to subscribe (for a fee) to access a how-to video library created by a law firm. Topics will range from “how to do your own will” to “how to prepare a small claims court claim”.
  3. Lawyers will sell commoditized legal services via auction on www.ebay.ca.
  4. Prospective clients will describe what legal services they need in an www.mls.ca-style website and local lawyers will make bids for the work.
  5. Lawyers’ roles will be relegated to that of managing relationships with clients (both on and offline), reviewing outsourced work, and representing clients in in-line dispute resolution centres (formerly, courts).
  6. Legal outcome prediction software will become widely available – such that, after inputting certain criteria, the likelihood of success for the case can be determined based on past cases. Lawyers defending large insurances companies will likely be the first to adopt this (if they aren’t doing so already!).

I also like what Kevin Kelly wrote in the [non]billable hour blog:

  • there will be no “medium-sized” law firms any longer. All lawyers will either practice in firms of less than 10 attorneys or more than 1000.
  • The court system, as a venue for dispute resolution of any kind, will cease to exist. Every dispute will either be settled in mediation or through submission to a computerized, artificial intelligence system, and parties will be bound by its decision.
  • Thompson/Reuters/West and Lexis/Nexis will merge. Nobody will notice.
  • Law schools will merge with business schools to actually teach students both to “think like a lawyer” and to run a profitable business.
  • Facebook will introduce a feature that automatically recommends to divorcing couples how they should separate their friends and property.

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