Legal Operations - What Comes Next

To envision WHAT COMES NEXT, let’s build on what we can divine by looking back and new trends emerging or gaining a foothold since 2018. Table below.  What trends do you see?  Your comments on LinkedIn or Twitter welcome.



What Comes Next

Rising Costs

In the 1980s, concerned by rising law firm costs, companies build corporate law departments.  Seeing a good opportunity entrepreneurs build cost-effective alternative legal service providers to bridge gaps.

In the 2020s, concerned by rising legal costs and taking advantage of new workflow technologies, companies adopt more fluid approach to staffing matters.  Agile matter teams drawn from multiple sources take hold.

Disruptive Technologies

Heralded by the emerging market for personal computers in 1980 (the original 128k Mac was my 3rd in 1984), messaging boards, then email, then the iPhone revolutionize communications in the early 1990s. The computer contributes to the growth of the legal profession by facilitating  exponential increases in written laws, document length and versions.

In the 2020s, driven by improvements in Natural Language Processing and Robotic Process Automation tools, digital assistants take over routine organization, communications and drafting, leaving their human partners to innovate off of the analytics surfaced. While NLP aids and abets the continued proliferation of text, a nascent visual contracts and block chain technology movement begin to take hold.

New Service Models

As new communication technologies allow legal advice to be given from anywhere, service providers take advantage of labor arbitrage to deliver legal services at lower cost, both external providers and internal “centers of excellence.”

In a post-COVID, web-conference savvy world location concerns disappear.  Average corporate law department size shrinks. In some cases companies outsource legal services to focus resources on the core business. In other cases, companies adopt a lean approach of staff counsel with deep knowledge of their businesses augmented by agile teams and technology. 

Client Expectations

The above results in a sea change in client expectations for communication, convenience and technology tools. Extended availability and quicker response becomes the norm.

Clients do not care whether the response comes from a person or a bot so long as they get the answer they need when they need it. Legal professionals give up thinking a smart tech is going to take their jobs and enjoy more fulfilling and challenging work.