Every Law Firm Management Committee Member Needs To Read This Book
The legal world has changed. The Recession changed us and, unlike previous recessions, the profession that returned was not the latest version of the status quo. We’re in the middle of historic change, the confluence of turmoil and technology, of demand and demographics.
Tomorrow’s lawyers will need to be prepared differently, to have new skills that are not being taught in most law schools. Tomorrow’s leaders will need a new perspective and a new skill set. Too many leaders are simply riding into the sunset without regard to what they’re leaving in their wake. They need to reformulate their firms and restructure their priorities and client relationships.
Tomorrow is already here.
Too many lawyers and leaders simply struggle to stay afloat. The pressing demands of an every day legal practice is all they can juggle. But to stay relevant, they must find the time, they must make the time, to look ahead and around the corner, to see what’s coming. Because what’s coming is different than anything that has come before.
Many, perhaps most, law firm leaders are ill-equipped to handle the changes; they were selected for entirely different skill sets. In many firms, leadership was selected based upon seniority, friendly internal relationships, and a willingness to not order around their fellow senior partners. And, of course, they have an enormous book of business, because in law firms the biggest rainmakers command respect and authority. That is, they are not always selected for their strategic insight, technical sophistication, business savvy, and the ability to make and enforce tough decisions in a time of change or crisis.
Those may well be the critical survival skills for the coming decades.
I’d suggest that every lawyer read the updated version of “Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future.” by law school professor and legal futurist Richard Susskind. In it, he predicts "a world of online courts, AI-based global legal business, liberalized markets, commoditization and outsourcing, internet-based simulated practice, and new legal jobs."
In a brisk, tightly written 200 pages, he lays out a compelling case for what’s wrong with the current law firm model, identifies the levers forcing change from all sides, and looks down the road to suggest the types of changes within the legal profession that lawyers will need to remain relevant ― and employed.
Law firms have done well for 50 years while economic forces have made most of their decisions look brilliant. A rising tide will do that. When every year is “your best year ever,” it’s hard to see any motivation for change. That day has ended.