Traditional law has paved a trail of stagnation, but now that AI and ALSPs have broken into the industry, suddenly nothing is certain. My research on the NewLaw industry unraveled the two biggest sectors of Alternative Legal Service Providers; LPOs and Alternative Staffing Providers. Together, the two sectors cater perfectly to the legal market; one arm focuses on completing menial legal labour with cost effective outsourcing, and the other arm focuses on insourcing experienced legal talent for projects that necessitate expertise in a certain area. Soon though, these two arms will become one fully functioning limb, homogenizing the industry to achieve versatility and supersede the benefits of turning to a traditional law firm. It seems masochistic to abide by TradLaw standards when law firms and in-house counsels finally have the option to automate tasks or outsource/insource various legal work.
During a recent visit to the National University of Singapore Law School (NUS), I asked a first-year student what being a lawyer meant to him. His response was thoughtful and prescient: "I regard law as a skill. I plan to leverage my legal training and meld it with my passion for business, technology, and policy. For me, law is not about practice." The distinction between practicing law and engaging in the delivery of legal services--the business of law--is critically important to a wide range of existing and prospective legal industry stakeholders.
This is the age of the customer. The asymmetrical advantage that sellers long held over buyers is gone. Consumers have access to market information and choice that has transformed the buy-sell dynamic. Social media provides them with a reference source and a voice. The balance of power has shifted from the supply to the demand side.
Dr George Beaton is a partner in beaton and a senior fellow in Melbourne Law School, Australia. His published works include NewLaw New Rules – A Conversation About the Future of the Legal Services Industry (2013) and Remaking Law Firms: Why & How (2016). You have been a pioneer in research into NewLaw, what place does technology have in NewLaw? Is it central to its development? Just 18 months ago when I wrote Fresh thinking on the evolving BigLaw–NewLaw taxonomy little mention was made of the role of technology in NewLaw or BigLaw business model firms.