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The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the nature of legal services (edition 2010)

by Richard Susskind OBE

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Title:The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the nature of legal services
Authors:Richard Susskind OBE
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2010), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 352 pages
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The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services by Richard Susskind OBE

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This is a thought provoking book about on-going and predicted future changes in the practice of law and how legal services will be billed and delivered in the future. The book is not an "anti-lawyer" diatribe, as you might guess from the title, but it does lay down challenges to lawyers to consider what elements of their current workload could be undertaken differently - more quickly, cheaply, efficiently, or to a higher quality - using alternative methods of working. Susskind argues, for example, that the market is increasingly unlikely to tolerate expensive lawyers for tasks (guiding, advising, drafting, researching, problem-solving, and more) that can be equally or better performed by smart systems and processes. He predicts the rise, within large law firms and corporate legal departments, of senior legal professionals whose function will be to serve as a legal process analyst. "The legal process analyst is the individual who will analyze a legal matter (a deal or dispute), decompose it into its constituent tasks ***, assess the most efficient and appropriate way to carry out each, and identify the best suppliers from whom to source this work." He calls this first step "decomposition and proposed multi-sourcing” of the work, where multi-sourcing will include out-sourcing legal work to lower cost attorneys and non-attorneys located outside of the traditional law firm and, indeed, often in foreign countries. After this initial assessment is made by the legal process analyst in the law firm, a legal process manager will then swing into play to "ensure that all providers complete their decomposed work packages on time and to budget, and will also be responsible for quality controlling the various packages, supervising their output and delivery, and pulling the packages together into one seamless service for the client." (pp. xlvi-xlvii) Susskind refers to just some of these steps and processes as "commoditization, computerization, decomposing, multi-sourcing." He predicts that law firms will evolve into different forms of practice in the future and he says that the scope of on-going innovation in law firms will be from less efficient to more efficient processes, which he summarizes as follows: bespoke > standardized > systematized > packaged > commoditized. Susskind's observations and predictions arise mainly from his experiences in the United Kingdom while working as a British lawyer, law professor, and consultant to the legal profession. However, most of his ideas are transferable to the practice of law in the United States. Important limitations of his book include that he does not give consideration to the ethical rules that govern lawyer conduct in each of our fifty states and before the federal bench. Many of the concepts that he is able to contemplate in England (fee splitting among lawyers, fee splitting between lawyers and non-lawyers, and capital investment in law firms by non-attorneys, just to name three) would require serious analysis and changes to the rules governing lawyer conduct in the United States. Although the book is controversial, it provokes thought. I would recommend it to Managing Partners and anyone interested in the practice of law, including those who will oppose or feel uncomfortable with Susskind's ideas. After all, as a brilliant non-attorney friend of mine reminded me after learning about Susskind's book, “The future is dynamic and a good leader needs to understand the dynamics even if he doesn’t like them.” ( )
  poreilly | Mar 10, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199541728, Hardcover)

The End of Lawyers? is the much-anticipated sequel to Richard Susskind's legal best-seller of 1996, The Future of Law. Ten years on, and half-way towards the twenty-year vision he set out, Susskind takes stock of progress, introduces vital new emerging technologies, and envisages even more radical change to the legal world than before.

This is a world in which, at least in part, legal services are commoditized, IT renders conventional legal advice redundant, clients and lawyers are collaborators under the one virtual roof, disputes are dominated by technology if not avoided in the first place, and online systems and services compete with lawyers in providing access to the law and to justice. For the conservative legal adviser, the message is bleak. For the progressive lawyer, an exciting new legal market emerges.

This book continues the author's focus on the effect of advances in information technology upon the law and legal practice, providing fresh perspectives and analysis of anticipated developments in the decade to come. In particular, he aims to explore the extent to which the role of the traditional lawyer can be sustained, in the face of the challenging trends in the legal marketplace and the new techniques and technologies for the delivery of legal services.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:33 -0400)

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