In The end of inevitability Jordan Furlong challenges the legal profession to think about its future. In a few short paragraphs he identifies the key issues that will shape how law is practised in the future. And it is not just that there are profound changes happening in the relationship between lawyers and their clients, but that it seems most lawyers are simply not aware of them.
It is a sobering post. For Furlong, it is that almost complete lack of awareness of the legal profession that is the real issue,
The one thing that concerns me most, as an observer of the extraordinary change in this marketplace, is that the majority of the profession has no idea what’s coming. Most of the lawyers with whom I’ve dealt over the past several years simply can’t envision a world where lawyers aren’t considered essential to the social and economic fabric. They might recognize that times are tougher and costs are rising and prices have topped out and clients are more demanding. They might be resentfully aware that providers outside the profession are entering the market with lower-price offerings, and they might grudgingly accept that technology allows things to be done faster and cheaper than they used to be. But they’re not putting it all together. They’re not following this road to its conclusion, because they can’t really see how the world could get along without us. The inevitably of lawyers is our fundamental precept, and it has become a mental block.
This is as true in the United Kingdom as it is in North America.
It is certainly difficult in the hurly-burly of practice to take time out to think about what we need to change to stay in the market; and the very fact that we are busy is itself a problem, because it allows us to think that things are, after all, OK: change is not something any of us are that eager to rush into. But choosing to ignore the problem won’t make it go away, and the clock is ticking. And just as Furlong ends his post, ” Lawyers should know better than anyone else what a ticking clock sounds like.”