The Future of Law: Utopia, Dystopia or Mythopoeia?

“The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts.” BERTRAND RUSSELL, Conquest of Happiness

Stephanie Kimbro, “Enterprising Lawyer” and Virtual Law Firm Proponent:

Where do you think the practice of law is going?
We will see more unbundled legal services integrating into traditional, full-service law firms as well as more firms that move to strictly unbundled services. More innovative technology will be developed to make online delivery of legal services more efficient and affordable for the public, and increase access to justice. For example, expect to see more practice-specific web advisors and web calculators, as well as the use of document assembly and automation systems in these tools to improve intake and analysis of client data over the Internet. Attorneys will need to have some form of secure client portal and access to virtual delivery. These trends are already changing the competition in the legal marketplace and will continue to do so. Attorneys who adopt these technologies quickly will survive, while others will not. Using these technologies, legal service providers will be able to meet many of the public’s needs for basic legal services and attorneys will brand themselves in much more-niche practices to showcase the true value of a licensed professional.

There are so many opportunities now for attorneys to step up to the plate and use technology to serve the huge market need for legal services, both online and offline.


Richard Susskind, Legal futurist and author of “The End of Lawyers”:

Susskind presented four progressive models for legal practice which can be found in detail in ‘The End of Lawyers?‘:  the target, the doughnut, the glazed doughnut and the cog. The target is a graphical depiction of the traditional law firm model, comprising expert advisers, trusted practitioners and routine workers; the doughnut has two sections – the trusted advisor and the enhanced practitioner – routine work is outsourced; the glazed doughnut adds a layer of analysts and project managers to manage the decomposition and distribution of different functions; and the cog – a glazed doughnut surrounded by cogs – depicts a model where only certain elements are outsourced to third parties and the rest is retained in-house.


Jordan Furlong, Canadian legal futurist and contributor:

If you don’t control the content of your brand, then your brand becomes little more than leftover reputation, general opinion, holdover name recognition. Active brands are powered by trust and confidence, and at the end of the day, these attributes are earned by individuals, not collectives. Gather and nurture these individuals and their brands, and you have a chance. Fail to do so, and you’ll be left sitting around wondering when the inertia will run out.

There will come a day, sooner than many people think, when vast numbers of law firms disappear almost overnight. The shock to the profession will be profound and lasting. But the reason will be simple: the glue that held these entities together — the confidence of the marketplace, the trust in the name, the power of the brand — dried up and wore off, little by little, until the bonds of collectivity simply fell away. That’s what happened to Heller Ehrman.

Who is your firm? Why should we believe you? Why should we believe in you?


Brian Tannebaum, Criminal & Bar Admission/Discipline Defense Lawyer and Certified Sommelier:

I spent the day at my law school alma mater yesterday speaking to students about, well, about a lot of things. They asked questions, I asked questions, They talked about their future, and I spoke of my past.

I’ve also been sitting back, watching the failed lawyers try and convince the greater legal community via blogs, articles and quotes at happy conferences that the future of law is what they deem it to be. The drum beats louder every day. It’s no longer that e-lawyering is part of the future, we are now being told if we are not part of the sit-at-home-and-sell-legal-services- world, we will not be a part of this perceived future. Google + is a total complete failure, but to those who have nothing to talk about, it’s the future. Lawyers are shutting down their practice because they have determined they have the secrets to running law firms, and rather than practice law, they are going to sell you their secrets to success.



There is no “future of law.”


Not a single student asked about building a practice by keyboard and monitor from mommy’s basement. Not a single student spoke about twitter, dropbox, or anything with .com at the end.

They spoke about offices, firms, clients, courtrooms, “meaningful” practices,” and passion.


Scott Greenfield, Criminal defense lawyer and Kitchen Aid USA nemesis:

There is nothing wrong with trying to divine the future, and using reason to do so.  But its somewhat disingenuous to promote the idea that anyone knows what the future will bring.  Very few have done so well, like Jules Verne and Gene Roddenberry, and in their cases the question is whether they predicted the future or the future met their imaginations and was guided by it.  With all due respect to my fellow blawgers, I don’t think they will be viewed as such visionaries that they will guide the future.

Some of these predictions strike me as nothing more than snake oil, with hard sell promoters sucking the weak and failed into their web with the promise of future success that comports with their silly dreams.  They are not dangerous because they posit a future that disrupts existing practice, but because they offer a promise to the desperate that they cannot keep.  Some promote the positives of solo practice while ignoring, if not overtly distorting, the risks, problems and negatives.  This disturbs me as it is targeted to some of the most vulnerable and desperate within the profession, and it’s flagrantly false and dishonest.

Similarly, the entire cabal of work/life balance promoters offer a false god to those least capable of understanding why it’s a fool’s path.  They all have one thing in common, their availability for speaking engagements.  For the most part, they are failed lawyers who have reimagined themselves consultants and marketers.  It would funny as can be that people turn to failures to teach success, except that some actually do.  Of course, some claim that they were huge successes as lawyers, though they can’t offer any rational explanation why then they left the law to put red paint on their faces and sell themselves on Market Street.

These oracles of the future of the law will get somethings right.  The law of averages dictates that some of their prophesies will come true, though when and how remains in doubt.  But denizens of the blawgosphere, desperately seeking solutions to their current miseries, would do well to be skeptical of prophets.  They don’t know anymore about the future than you do.


Anne Ramberg, Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association:

A lawyer must always be free and independent of all, both from the state as the client himself. In many countries, however, considered to be a lawyer “an officer of the Court” with obligations against other interests than the client. This is particularly true in relation to the courts, but also against the law in general. Also Swedish lawyers have certainly had a duty to satisfy the requirements of the Judicial Code and regulations, and to comply with court orders. The lawyer must be understood not promote injustice. This means that the lawyer must act in a manner that promotes honesty and integrity in the judicial life. The lawyer is further prevented from promoting the client’s case in an improper manner. He may for example not lie. But all this does not mean that the Swedish lawyer is a court servant so that in some countries. On the contrary, be deemed to constitute an independent lawyer profession’s core value.

The problem with the EU Commission’s action is the lack of awareness of the crucial difference between what they call “consumer interest” and “public interest”. It is not the same.

The one rule is the same way that there should be an independent judiciary and impartial judges, to be independent lawyers. It requires an independent Bar Association that can bring the individual lawyer’s actions and protecting its integrity. Otherwise also the individual citizen to be found in the brännvinsadvokaters violence that new legislative drafting so graphically described the 1884th In this connection, I refer specifically to the great efforts that the IBA is doing to support the lawyers around the world who are imprisoned, beaten or lose the right to practice as lawyers. IBA has thus been a strong support of many colleagues in Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma, Vietnam and most recently Syria, just to name a few. IBA has also intervened when the lawyer’s independence was in danger. One such example is Poland.

In order to maintain an independent Bar Association that makes a difference and that could affect required that all lawyers regardless targeting can identify with their profession. That all lawyers can feel a common professional identity. Only then will the Bar Association, the force of the society with authority to call attention to shortcomings and give the legislature and society’s attention to bad law or bad law. That is why we all work for a united community. (English translation from Swedish via Google Translate)”

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One Response to “The Future of Law: Utopia, Dystopia or Mythopoeia?”

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