22 Oct 2015

The end of lawyering: A time to get creative

Average is over. It's time to get innovative to survive, says Chrissie Lightfoot.

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Reflecting on the research, experience, opinion and insights from contributors within this article it is fair to say that if you are involved in developing your business of law’s strategy you need to consider where you are deploying your machines and humans and where to place the two prime means of production ensuring each of them are conveniently in the right place at the right time, whether physically in ‘the office’, remotely or virtually; meeting and engaging in a virtual environment is not that far off, according to Google.

In the not too distant future when fewer ‘pure blood’ lawyers and ‘hybrid humans’ work alongside fewer blue-collar & white-collar robot legal staff, it may well be that we will no longer require the traditional office and indeed, the end of the law office as we know it may actually ring true. But we will be producing somewhere…

In my opinion it is therefore critical and timely for those of you who have the power and hold the purse-strings at current law offices in ‘law law land’ to begin those important strategic conversations with real-estate experts who may well help you make informed, commercial and strategic decisions by sharing educational, knowledgeable and intelligent research, opinion and advice about the right way forward for your business of law in the months, years and decades ahead. 

Burden or blessing

When you are considering the means and mode of deployment of your lawyerly workforce to focus on the three horizons of future-proofing your business of law, the timeline should reflect the following aspirations:

1) Year 1 – operational excellence;

2) Year 1 to 3 – drive for innovation and efficiency; and

3) Years 4 to 10 – creating growth and the future

It is imperative you include not simply HOW you work and WHO/WHAT will be doing the work (machine or human) but also WHERE. Owning the freehold or being contracted to a leasehold could be either a burden or a blessing, depending on how you choose to manage said asset (variable and/or fixed cost, respectively). Only by garnering the expertise of a property specialist can you make those all important strategic business decisions that will confront you far sooner than you may imagine, in my opinion.

And so remember, when you are engaging in those very challenging discussions and deliberations, what Maya Angelou said:  “You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." So GET CREATIVE in where and how you work. Be creative in your use of technology / investment / strategy / thinking etc, just like Clio, Law Plain and Simple, Cogress, JLL, Sinead King (The Entrepreneur Advocate - barrister) and Mike Willis (The Professional’s B(r)and-Aid - professional risks lawyer) and avoid what may well be that “Uh-Oh” moment, as Mike would say, if you ignore what I have shared with you in this series.

My advice is do not be like the managing partner / CEO / chairman lawyer of tomorrow, today, who sees the future but chooses to ignore it. Act now and create your future and that of your business of law. Be brave, be bold and be confident in the knowing that “the most talented, thought-provoking, game-changing people are never ‘normal’” (Richard Branson). 

Because it’s not okay to be humanly average. It just won’t cut it anymore; it never did by the way - those clients who defected to your competitor will no doubt have told you that. Imagine when your competitor also houses a superior machine - in knowledge and intelligence – such as robot lawyer? There will be no such thing as the ‘average robot lawyer’.

In the imminent Robotic Age, where the end of law office is nigh, and the end of lawyering as we know it is nigh, you and your business of law must be humanly exceptional, creative and imaginative in your thinking and doing to capture the business of tomorrow, today. 

Chrissie Lightfoot is author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045. (published Nov 2014 ), and its prequel bestseller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! (Nov 2010). You can pick up her latest book today by emailing publishing@ark-group.com or call +44(0) 207 566 5792.

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