Denne artikel er skrevet til rapporten Fremtidens Jurist 2020 af:
Richard Tromans, grundlægger af nyhedssiden www.artificiallawyer.com og Tromans Consulting
For literally decades, the commercial legal market has been dominated by law firms, generally structured as partnerships.
Over generations these businesses have grown and added level after level of leverage to their junior fee earner ranks. Paralegals first formally arrived on the scene in the US in the late 1960s and since then nearly every market on the planet has some form of ‘legal labour’ that is not performed by qualified and regulated lawyers.
But that is not new.
The arrival of Legal Process Outsourcers (LPOs) is not new either, which are companies that make use of lawyers, paralegals and staff with no legal experience whatsoever to handle the most basic tasks.
And then we have NewLaw and the arrival of ALSPs or Alternative Legal Services Providers, which were more complex than LPOs, offering a wider range of capabilities such as legal managed services, or handling low-to-medium level work such as document review for M&A deals.
And of course, we have LOD companies, i.e. lawyers on demand, which are suppliers of temporary legal labour. And also we have the consumer and SME-focused companies selling easy to download and use contracts that do not require legal input, at least if the matter is very simple and straightforward.
Then we have the Big Four, which provide legal services and more. And law firms have also created process groups of their own, as well as now building technology groups that develop their own software to sell to the market, i.e. offering ‘More than Law’.
And the list goes on.
The reality is that the days of the world being 100% dominated by ‘law firms’, that just did legal advisory services, and were structured strictly as partnerships have long been over. It’s just that this ‘future’ has not been evenly distributed across the globe.
In the UK the idea of there being ‘law firms’ – whatever that means these days - and then all the ‘alternatives’ noted above makes little sense.
What we have now is a market made of Legal Services Businesses or LSBs – and that is a catch-all term that includes everything noted here.
When a law firm offers management consulting, sells tech products, has a process group of its own in another country, sells LOD services, and also provides high value advisory services on top – and then across the road is another LSB that does almost the same thing, but is not ‘a traditional law firm’, then we are living in a different world. It’s just that not everyone has realised that yet.
How much you experience this change, and how much the clients see it, often depends on your particular market. In the UK, where I am based, every possible business model under the sun is permissible, you can even list your law firm on the stock market if you want to.
But, has all of this change and rich diversity of legal business models harmed the market? Not at all. Up until the recent Covid-19 crisis UK-based ‘traditional’ law firms were doing very well. In the US there is little deregulation and the market is more homogeneous, but even there new LSBs are taking shape, offering everything except legal advisory services.
To conclude, the world has already changed, and in some markets it changed a long time ago. The questions for LSBs in the Nordics is whether they will adapt to these changing times.
Du finder flere artikler af Richard Tromans på nyhedssiden: www.artificiallawyer.com
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