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What's to Become of the Legal Profession? Paperback – February 28, 2017
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By contrast, his latest is a relatively sunny read. 'Many academics and consultants have been predicting for years fundamental changes in the way legal services are provided to clients; changes that would significantly and adversely affect the need for lawyers as well as the conditions and income expectations of those lawyers who survived,' Trotter notes. He adds, dryly: 'I do not agree with these disturbing predictions.
'Richard Susskind's argument that 'the legal profession in the future will bear little resemblance to the way in which lawyers have worked in the past' is now close to orthodox thinking. It is refreshing, then, for Susskind to be challenged, not least by an author whose analysis involves a look back (50-70 years) as well as forward. Trotter has an easy facility with the technological changes that intensified from the early 1990s onwards - from communication to automation. He concludes: 'Most of the new technology available to practicing lawyers has assisted and improved the practice of law rather than interrupting or disturbing such efforts.
Each new generation of lawyers takes for granted what they find in place.'[O]ne can see why Susskind's prediction that 'law' would become (or be displaced by) a 'one-to-many' packaged information service gets short shrift here. Technology, Trotter believes, 'breathes new life' into small firms - instead of replacing them.
Trotter does see change in the profession, but places it in context. A fall in compensation levels in some commercial areas is a historical correction, not a disaster. Use of technology will create new jobs, as the need to manage new processes will increase the need for facilitative roles.
Eduardo Reyes, Commissioning and Features Editor
The Law Society Gazatte, 30 October 2017
From the Author
Michael Trotter is the author of Profit and the Practice of Law and of Declining Prospects which togethr provide a comprehensive view of the evolution of the legal services industry in America since the end of World War II to the present day.
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In Re: “What’s To Become of The Legal Profession” by Michael
H. Trotter, BA Brown University (1958); JD Harvard Law School
(1962); Master’s Degree in History, Harvard University (1959).
I recently had the privilege of reading Michael Trotter’s latest book on the future of the legal profession. A fascinating exposition of a
storied profession that has experienced more than its share of problems and changes in recent years.
While, as Trotter frankly notes, predicting the future is always an
uncertain venture. The exigencies of the profession, technology, the increase in specialization and the ever increasing turbulent world scene render precise predictions no more than a flight on gossamer wings.
Addressing the burgeoning advent of internet technology, which dominates today’s scene, together with attendant services and source materials, Trotter points out the information generated has long been available to the general public. While of assistance to both practitioners and the public, technology is incapable of negotiating most agreements, resolving most disputes or facilitating settlements without human participation. Thus, although change is inevitable, Trotter believes the profession will continue to expand in volume and number.
Trotter’s exhaustive and impressively detailed research
augmented by a long and highly distinguished practice with
numerous public service commendations provides the basis for debunking self proclaimed experts who predict, inter alia, a winnowing of the profession particularly with respect to small firms and sole practitioners.
The book is a treasure of predictions for the future of the profession and one that should find itself in the library of every
Charles H. Turner
United States Attorneys Office, Chicago, Illinois 1962-1965;
Special Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorneys Office, San Diego, California 1970;
Department of Justice, Legislation & Special Projects Unit, Washington, D.C. 1971-1972;
United States Attorneys Office, Portland, Oregon 1967- 1970, 1972- 1993;
United States Attorney for the District Oregon 1982 - 1993
My own most just-released book, Tomorrowland, presents my own set of scenarios on how this might all play out, so I would like to think I'm in a position to have a view on all of this.
Trotter is deeply sympathetic to the highest and best values and traditions of the profession, which is an admirable quality in and of itself. For an extended perspective from one practitioner who clearly loves what he does, you could do no better.