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The start of a new year is always a time for reflection and renewal. But this new year may be a good time to turn your thoughts to how to reinvent your law firm or legal department as well. While there are still a few in denial, most lawyers recognize that change is upon us and, sooner rather than later, we need to consider how we’re going to respond to the forces that are reshaping the art, soul and business of law practice.
In many ways, the economic downturn has served to highlight and even hasten some of the changes the legal profession was already facing, which means that, for some at least, it’s past high time to get it in gear when it comes to understanding how they need to reshape their practices. In this issue we help you take a peak into some of the possibilities for the future and the various forces that are leading us there.
To start, Merrilyn Astin Tarlton (who also served as our special guest editor for this issue) does a masterful job describing possible types of future law firms in her article “Figuring Out Your Place in the Race.” (Do you see your firm’s future in one of them?) Then, in Steve Taylor’s article, theory gets put into practice as he talks to lawyers who are engaged in shaking up the traditional models. Plus, Jordan Furlong provides predictions on what the profession could look like by 2020 and details five major forces that are driving the legal services marketplace in that direction. Of course, the future is all about competition, so be sure to read Ann Lee Gibson’s excellent piece on what you need to know about competitive advantage. Finally, Harry Trueheart, the chair of Nixon Peabody LLP, gives us a firm leader’s take on the trends that will transform law firms.
If these features get you thinking about where you are headed in your own job, you’ll be interested in Wendy Werner’s new column, Career Steps. In the debut installment (in this issue), she focuses on steps you can take to begin planning the next move in your career.
Thanks to Merrilyn Astin Tarlton for all her work in helping us obtain thought-provoking articles from some leading thinkers on the future of law and law practice management. No doubt, the view ahead can be a bit scary, but there are fantastic opportunities out there for those who are ready to see and adapt to the changes that are coming. We hope this issue helps you see where your best opportunities might be.
Dan Pinnington, Editor-in-Chief