General counsel say that most large law firms are unprepared for the changes in the legal marketplace and many of the big law firms will disappear in their current form. The lawyers, who are speaking on a panel - 'Law Department 2030' on 1 November in London say that top-tier law firms have shown little interest in innovation to date. Phil Auld, head of legal, Digital and Specialist Commercial at Lloyds Banking Group, predicts that accountancy firms are likely to be the winners as they are technology smart and able to deliver services efficiently. National firms are also making some inroads unlike their Magic Circle peers, he says. GCs predicted that partners would leave the top law firms, setting up smaller boutiques and that some of the largest law firms would split up into smaller entities as the market changed - with those at the forefront of innovation leading the way.
The GC innovators also questioned the future of law departments and how they were adapting to market challenges. One scenario put forward was that law firms could become specialist legal outsourcers with law departments morphing into 'a small group managing a series of vendors,' Colt legal director Alessandro Galtieri said. This could see the legal department absorbed into a legal risk management role or indeed a shared services role, Aine Lyons, head of legal operations at VMware said. Another model saw proactive law firms develop products for their clients - for example Bryan Cave has built a contract management system for its client Red Robin. The GCs predicted that smart law firms would follow suit. The subject will be continued at the GC Futures Summit tomorrow in London. For more information on the GC Futures Summit, contact Ben Martin@globalcitymedia.com