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The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services 0th Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199541720
ISBN-10: 0199541728
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is addictive! Susskind has done it again with an extremely engaging blend of advice." --Patrick McKenna, 2009

"I believe anyone working in a professional service firm could find useful examples of what can be accomplished in their own profession, throughout this book." --Patrick McKenna, 2009

About the Author


Richard Susskind is Honorary Professor of Law at Gresham College, London, IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice, and an independent consultant to professional firms and national governments. He is Chair of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information, a law columnist at The Times, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the British Computer Society. He studied law at Glasgow University and has a doctorate in law and computers from Balliol College, Oxford. His views on the future of the legal profession have influenced a generation of lawyers around the world. He has written several books, including Expert Systems in Law (OUP, 1987), The Future of Law (OUP, 1996), and Transforming the Law (OUP, 2000), and has been invited to speak in over 40 countries.
He was awarded an OBE in the Millennium New Year's Honours List for services to IT in the Law and to the Administration of Justice.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199541728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199541720
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,122,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick J. McKenna on January 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is addictive! Susskind has done it again with an extremely engaging blend of advice; his fourth innovative book since Expert Systems in Law first appeared back in 1987.

The End of Lawyers? Susskind tells us that the question mark in the title should hint that he is not out to bury lawyers but to investigate the future of the profession. And investigate he does. We are treated to eight chapters rife with observations, predictions, useful anecdotes, marvelously detailed case studies, and presented with the kind of insight that only an IT expert with Susskind's decades of experience could execute.

The eight chapters include:
1. Introduction - the Beginning of the End?
2. The Path to Commoditization
3. Trends in Technology
4. Disruptive Legal Technologies
5. The Future for In-house Lawyers
6. Resolving and Avoiding Disputes
7. Access to Law and to Justice
8. Conclusion - the Future of Lawyers.

This book points to a possible future in which conventional legal services will be much less prominent and explores how commoditization and IT will shape twenty-first century legal services. One of my favorite topics is the obviously disruptive force of websites now in play from which anyone may obtain legal guidance and advice. Susskind provides a masterful description of the evolution of disruptive technologies, the path to commoditization of legal services, and provides concrete advice - three keys to success when it comes to making money from online services.

And should you think that this is of importance only to those lawyers who populate big law, you would be dead wrong. Susskind provides numerous examples of solo practitioner and small firm innovations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Please note the question mark in the title.

Susskind, a British information-technology consultant and futurist, is not necessarily predicting the end of the legal profession in this thought-provoking but overly long and convoluted book. He is predicting that within a couple of decades, lawyering will have changed in ways that the typical law firm partner of 2009 can hardly envision.

The engine of change, as far as Susskind is concerned, is the Internet and information technology in general. Susskind points to 10 "disruptive technologies" - among them ideas as prosaic as automated document assembly and as visionary as the provision of legal advice through open-source technology - that will alter the face of the profession.

"Information technology is now part of the universe of lawyers," Susskind writes. "It is not a parallel universe. Disruptive legal technologies are too important to be left to technologists ... they are applications of technology that challenge the old ways and, in so doing, bring great cost savings and new imaginative ways of managing risk."

Susskind believes, for example, that except for the most customized, top-of-the-line engagements, legal work done by top firms in the United States and the United Kingdom will soon be largely standardized through the use of intelligent document assembly programs, the deployment of more paralegals and nonlawyers, and other innovations. Even high-end corporate work, he says, can benefit from standardization. The result will be lower costs to clients, a broader availability of legal services to the public, and possibly the end of the big law firm as we know it today.

Susskind is quite aware of the cutting edge of legal marketing.
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Format: Hardcover
In The End of Lawyers? Susskind explores and extrapolates trends in information technology and attempts to visualize and present how these trends may affect lawyers. After all, lawyers at a basic level sell access to information, and computers hugely change how information is accessed and distributed/sold.

The title, with its inclusion of "end" is meant to be provocative. Lawyers tend to be somewhat mired in the past and resistant to change. I'm a lawyer, and there is resistance to changes in the way legal services are prepared and sold. There is a view that legal services are somehow different and special.

The first four chapters (The Beginning of the End?, The Path to Commoditization, Trends in Technology, and Disruptive Legal Technologies) lay out how information technology has affected other fields which were similarly resistant to change, and how provision of legal services has already changed in responce to new developments in computers. Susskind breaks down different aspects of legal services and discusses potential for changes in the way these are provided. For example, rote drafting is easy to picture as being done by computers. Even in a system where the lawyer physically types out each standard contract or pleading, that lawyer is probably using a form book and a form book translates directly into a cut and paste computerized form. However, even complicated anaylsis can be done differently. For example, medical diagnosis by computer can be done by having the patient answer yes or no to a series of questions. This works well even for complex conditions.
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