The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the nature of legal services Revised Edition
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"The End of Lawyers? is a road map to the archipelago of legal innovation already emerging all around us. Ignore it at your peril."
"This book should be compulsory reading for all who care about the future of the law."
--Mark Harding, Group General Counsel, Barclays
"This book has already played a major role in reshaping the debate over the profession's future. The tremendous changes in the attitudes and practices of clients and lawyers in just the short time between its original publication and the appearance of this new edition underscores that practitioners ignore Susskind's thorough and nuanced arguments at their peril."
--Professor David B. Wilkins, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School
"Whether lawyer, teacher, law student, judge, arbitrator, mediator, client or entrepreneur, disregard of this new exposition is fraught with peril. The newly added analytical framework and tools provide those with the courage to embrace change with both incentive and fortitude to do so and to act quickly."
--Jeffrey W. Carr, General Counsel, FMC Technologies Inc
"This book paints a scary future. But as a call to arms, to embrace the future, it lays down a challenge for lawyers everywhere for we have no birthright, no power to avoid development, to 'freeze the frame'."
--Stuart Popham, Senior Partner, Clifford Chance
"Richard Susskind's predictions of 1996, in The Future of Law, can now be seen to be coming to pass. I am confident that those in this new work, where he looks even further into the future, will likewise come to pass, given the extraordinary depth of knowledge, analysis and reasoning he has brought to bear and which this book demonstrates on every page."
--Lord Saville of Newdigate, Justice of the Supreme Court of the UK
"Anyone who wishes to understand where the profession has been and where it is going should read this book."
--Jonathan Groner, freelance legal writer and PR consultant, Washington, DC
About the Author
Richard Susskind is an author, speaker, and independent adviser to international professional firms and national governments. His views on the future of legal service have influenced a generation of lawyers around the world. He has written numerous books, including The Future of Law (Oxford, 1996) and Transforming the Law (Oxford, 2000), and has been a regular columnist at The Times. He has been invited to lecture in over 40 countries, and has addressed legal audiences (in person and electronically), numbering more than 200,000. Richard is Honorary and Emeritus Law Professor at Gresham College, London, Visiting Professor in Internet Studies at the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, and IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. He holds a doctorate in law from Balliol College, Oxford, and is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was awarded an OBE in 2000 for services to IT in the Law and to the Administration of Justice.
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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. One of his "disruptive" techniques is "the electronic legal marketplace," which he sees as including online ratings of individual lawyers, online auctions, bulk purchasing, and readily available price comparisons. He foresees the multi-sourcing of legal services, increased confidence by clients that they are getting the best value for their money, greater choice, and of course lower costs.
The book can be slow going (Susskind has not learned how to write in short paragraphs), it can be repetitious, and Susskind's examples are taken almost entirely from British life, law, and experience and will be quite foreign to the American reader. For example, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, a government agency that Susskind regards as a key player in the legal Internet, sounds merely quaint to American ears.
Regardless, anyone who wishes to understand where the profession has been and where it is going should read this book.
First the good news. Before reading Susskind's work, you'll need three packs of sticky notes in different colors. Use one color to mark the things that you already agree with, another for the things you disagree with and the third - the big pack - for the new ideas you hadn't considered before. Since tradition is only helpful to the extent the future will be like the past, it is not so much in his specific predictions that Susskind's work benefits the legal community as much as the fact that he makes the velocity of change undeniable.
The metaphorical image of lawyers Susskind paints is a bunch of guys in `bespoke' suites, standing on a beach toward which a huge wave is approaching, arguing with each other who will bear legal liability for the tsunami. Those who value the profession and their role in it will heed the warning and move to the high ground. These will be those who recognize that the legal profession is the servant of society - not the repository of its order or wisdom.
In `minding the gap' between consultant speak and difference between theory and practice, the footnotes alone - most of which are web sites exemplifying what he's discussing, are worth the price of the book. The author would have earned more money from this work if he had simply asked the readers to send him a dollar every time they looked followed up on a footnote and said to themselves `now I see what he's talking about'.
The bad news is that the author's experience clearly focuses this book on the net sum of his professional experience, which, apparently, is serving the largest `white shoe' firms in Great Britain. Since, using economic terminology, the law is a `lagging phenomena' - this exacerbates the differences in `legal culture' between us. The significance of this is inversely proportional to the `listening skills' of the reader. To the extent that most lawyers spend the time they're not talking thinking up what they're going to say next - this is a problem.
Overall, the book gets a thumbs up. The author does American lawyers the favor of not only saying that changes are coming but outlines some specifics as to what those changes might be. Getting to higher ground in time is up to each individual and firm.
Top international reviews
Susskind argues that market forces have meant that using lawyers has now become so expensive as to be unsustainable and that there is a pressing need for a `genuine transformation in the way in which legal services are delivered'. He provides a long list of ways that law firms might adapt (e.g. by embracing developments in IT, standardising and `commoditizing' legal work, off-shoring, outsourcing, multi-sourcing and subcontracting) if they are to survive. He also regards it as crucial that lawyers charge for the work they do by fixed fees, not on an hourly basis. For obvious reasons, efficiency is, as Susskind puts it, `the enemy of the law firm that charges on an hourly billing basis.'
Lawyers tend by nature to be highly conservative and many will doubtless see the message in this scholarly yet highly readable book as unpalatable. But lawyers who resist calls to adopt new (and very unfamiliar) working practices will do so at their peril. Susskind is right: the law does not exist to provide a livelihood for lawyers.
Kürzlich ist ein neues (etwas dünneres) Buch von Richard Susskind erschienen: "Tomorrow's Lawyers". Für den deutschen Anwalt ist dieses neuere Buch ausreichend.