If you have practiced law or run a law firm for longer than 10 years, you don’t have to be told how much has changed in a short amount of time. Technology is advancing at an alarming rate, and each new evolution both makes our jobs easier and forces us onto a new learning curve. But if you thought things were moving fast in the last decade, just wait. The 2020s promise to be even more transformative for the practice of law, and the more you can prepare your law firm now, the easier it will be to ride each new wave as it comes. Let’s explore some of the developments and trends on the horizon that promise to revolutionize how we operate as lawyers.
Globalization of Law
The world is getting smaller, and we can now transmit information across the globe in seconds. As more people and companies conduct business in the global marketplace, law firms will need to adapt by becoming more versed in the laws of other nations, as well as international law. They may need to form partnerships with law firms in other countries where their clients operate, and attorneys may even need to become licensed in multiple countries to keep pace. Even so-called “neighborhood attorneys” will need to know how to help their clients navigate legally in a global landscape.
How to prepare: Begin strategizing now regarding how you will adapt to your clients’ globalization needs. Will you form alliances with law firms internationally? Will you need more schooling to meet these needs?
Blockchain is a remarkable method of creating unique records and distributing them across vast networks without the ability to copy or change them—a decentralized form of data distribution that is nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain’s primary use right now is in the cryptocurrency market, but many other applications for it are already being explored and discussed—including supply chain monitoring, digital IDs, medical records, forensics, even blockchain copyright registration. While still in its infancy, blockchain technology could have far-reaching legal implications, and its use may require attorneys to think differently about many aspects of the law.
How to prepare: You might want to start now learning as much as you can about blockchain technology. Doing so may help you anticipate any of a number of legal questions that may arise in your specific areas of practice.
End of Billable Hours?
For years now, a growing number of attorneys have been ditching billable hours pricing in favor of more client-friendly payment models, such as flat-rate per service or monthly subscription. However, what began as an innovation to make legal help more accessible may soon become a necessity to the practice of law into the next decade. As we rely more on technologies like automation and machine learning to process our legal work, the idea of billable hours may simply cease to make sense in the days to come.
How to prepare: Evaluate your current billing system. Does it serve the needs of your law firm and your clients, or would a more innovative billing system make sense? Will it continue to make sense as you integrate new technologies into your firm?
We’ll soon address a few more key developments that may change how we do business in the next decade. If you need help positioning your law firm for growth today, we’re here to help. Give us a call at 888-207-2869.