The question many of us have had over the past year or two is not “what is the future of law practice?” but more “has the future arrived?” As Law Practice tackles the subject in this issue, many lawyers are left wondering what their future will truly hold.
Unfortunately, one reality is that some will work longer than previously planned. Other lawyers will have to drastically alter the way their business is run. And yet some are finding the future to be more palatable than the past—promising opportunities that were previously considered “glass half empty,” if not simply foolhardy. Remember when the midsize model was dead, and having offices on every coast imaginable was considered a necessity? Yeah, 2007. I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.
Most people have come to realize that the general thinking about hiring, billing, procedures and day-to-day client interaction has not simply shifted under the weight of a weak global economy, but is in many ways nothing short of a market correction that will take a lot longer than a decade to shift back in our favor.
I’m not suggesting that in 2020 law practice is going to be identical to today. Technologies not yet known will transform various elements of delivery, accessibility and function for a law firm, while world events will determine our roles as officers of the court. In shaking the Magic Eight Ball on my desk (courtesy of a law firm promotion), I’ve asked for some guidance. Generally, it has answered yes, no, not today or absolutely—but there were some predictions for the year 2020.
If only some of those predictions can come true, I’ll aim for the last two. However, we can only guess. The concept of “no one right answer” is what makes our profession unpredictable and thoroughly enjoyable.
Micah Buchdahl , Chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section, is an attorney and President of HTMLawyers, dedicated to guiding law firms through business development strategies and implementation.