Picking up on my immediately preceding post, an excellent article, The road ahead, in The Law Gazette on the future of legal services.
In the present turn down it may sometimes seem difficult to look beyond the month end figures, but long term survival requires it, to say nothing of what the up and coming generation expects.
I cannot do better than paste in the final paragraphs,
For Susskind, the questions he always poses to the profession are: why is it that people pay lawyers good money? What value is it they’re bringing? The best answer he has seen comes from accountants KPMG, whose global mission statement is, he paraphrased, ‘we exist to turn our knowledge into value for the benefit of our clients’.
‘I think it’s a fantastic way of summarising what all of us as professional advisers seek to do,’ Susskind concluded. ‘We have knowledge, expertise, inside ideas that clients want to apply in their circumstances. It doesn’t say we exist to supply one-to-one consultative advisory service on an hourly billing basis…
‘The thing I want people to think about in the future is in the legal market we have to strive to find even more imaginative and creative and, I suspect, cost-effective ways of transferring our knowledge to our clients in a way they can apply in their circumstances.’
To do so, we also have to work out our strategies taking into account three or four key issues
1) The future will not be more of the same. Read Futurewise, Six Faces of Global Challenge by Patrick Dixon.
2) The market for legal services is not effective: if you haven’t yet read Stephen Mayson’s paper Legal Services Reforms: Catalyst, Cataclysm or Catastrophe, you should. The problem? ‘An oversupply of qualified people without a corresponding increase in “qualified lawyer” work’; the result? ‘Too many qualified lawyers, too many law firms, and too many equity partners: and a market ripe for reform. . . [leading to] consolidation, merger, and, occasionally, failure’.
3) Legislation is simply accelerating inevitable change: the Legal Services Act will open the profession to new entrants, but technology, the great driver of change, is already altering the way our clients seek and take legal services (and this takes me back to The mobile lawyer, posted yesterday).
4) The aspirations and expectations of the next generation, and the one following them, are not the same as those of us who currently determine the course of law firms.