The legal services industry (i.e. the practice of law) is broken and most attorneys – at least off record – will admit the same. The traditional model relies on clients with blank checks, associates willing to work insane hours and and an outdated fee structure. As clients demand that attorneys work smarter and more efficiently there is great opportunity for the legal community to embrace change and modernize our field. We are on the cusp of major disruption. Those firms willing to transform their model will survive and, like other industries in similar positions, those that resist or scoff change won’t.
I spend more time than most thinking about the future of law and how Linden Legal Strategies can be at the forefront – I’m proud of how we’re working to disrupt the traditional model while forging a path that encourages other firms to do the same. It starts with a change a mindset and, at least for us, continues with the implementation of a subscription based legal product we hope revolutionizes the access that businesses have to the legal services they need the most.
As an Industry, We Must Change The Way We Think About the Law
I challenge every attorney I know to rethink the way they practice. How can you provide superior legal services to your clients? How can you restructure your fees? How can you embrace the technology that exists and the technology that is coming? Our industry has made very few changes to the way we operate –reluctantly implementing technology by arguing that it is in our client’s best interest to resist change. It’s not. And because of our stubbornness (and arrogance), we’ve lost our status as trusted business advisors and confidants. Change starts with us.
To do so, however, means that we need to rethink some of our current “ethical” constraints. Most firms cannot afford to develop the type of technology that will move our industry forward. Tech companies will have few incentives to develop and market the type of technology we need until attorneys can work hand in hand with them to provide true legal services. The current restrictions on ownership espoused in Rule 5.4 will need to change to allow for these partnerships. I am certain that we can determine how to balance the needs of our clients with our need for technology.
The Future of Law: Embracing Technology, Not Resisting It
Law firms and technology are like oil and water – with the former being very distrustful of anything that’s not printed and stored in a redwell. While there are lots of ways in which we can implement technology to work smarter for our clients, one of our biggest opportunities will come in the form of artificial intelligence. There are very few practice areas that will not benefit from some of the advances being made by AI and while a few firms and companies are starting to embrace these advances, real progress will come when we admit that we routinely perform a litany of tasks that could be more efficiently (and accurately) performed by technology.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that AI will replace the attorney-advisor. Without a radical upheaval of our current common law system, we will always need advisors to comment on and interpret the law. The rest, however, can be handled by technology – even the trickier, time-intensive practice areas like litigation. Imagine a client uploading data, a computer analyzing the various components of the case and then determining fault, leaving the attorneys and judge to decide damages. The cost to the litigants will be greatly reduced and the outcomes more “fair”, thus equalizing the legal playing field. We may be years away from such a system, but it’s coming.
The Future of Law: Subscription-Based Services That Provide Legal Advice
At Linden Legal Strategies, we envision a future of law where businesses are able to access the services they need in a way that works with how they currently operate, not against it. Over the past year we’ve been working diligently to create a new type of legal product. One that combines technology with the advice and counsel of an attorney who understands you and your business. A product that lets you and your team access what you need, when you need it with the security of knowing that it’s been crafted by attorneys for you and your business.
On November 1, 2017 we will begin testing the beta version of our new subscription service, which aims to provide businesses with access to quality legal counsel at a price point most businesses can afford (spoiler alert – it will start at $99/mo.). We’ve taken the on-demand/DIY model and removed the middle-man – reworking the model so that as a business, you have a dedicated attorney who builds a relationship with you and your business – not a matchmaking service. And to be clear, this is not a traditional retainer system – there are no prepaid hours, the services are unlimited and access is on your terms. Over the upcoming months, with your help, we’ll refine the model with the goal of launching our full-scale product in February 2018. Our commitment is to you is simple – we will break down the barriers that prevent businesses from accessing legal services and in doing so, empower you with the tools necessary for growth. The new economy is here, and we look forward to continuing to embrace technology to propel the legal industry forward. We challenge our colleagues to do the same.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Always consult appropriate legal counsel for specific questions related to your business. Some states may consider this attorney advertising.
Stinson Mundy is the founder of Linden Legal Strategies PLLC, a Richmond, Virginia-based law firm focusing on business law and development. To learn more about how Linden Legal Strategies can help you start, grow and protect your business, or to schedule an initial consultation, contact Stinson.