I have the good fortune these days to be wearing multiple hats. I am managing partner of my firm; chair of the DRI Law Practice Committee; and, President Elect of the Indianapolis Bar Association. In those roles I have traveled the country speaking to DRI and state defense bar groups, attending ABA and the National Association of Bar President meetings, and attending law practice seminars. I have learned that the sands are shifting under the feet of lawyers and law firms, yet most lawyers are completely oblivious.
You have heard the term "the future is now?" Well, its true, the future is now. Changes are happening so rapidly in law practice that the changes will pass many lawyers by, and when they wake up to the change, it will be too late for many of them.
So, what are some of the changes? Law is rapidly going paperless, and technology (for those who embrace it) is making it far easier (and cheaper for clients) than ever before. The business and insurance world are moving jobs in house. They are using paraprofessionals and outsourcing to do tasks that lawyers have traditionally done.
Across the country more and more individuals and companies are trying to represent themselves because the internet and e-filing has made law look less confusing to them. As law schools have seen declining enrollment, law grads have seen fewer jobs, recent grads are increasingly hanging out a shingle rather than await a traditional firm or corporate job.
Many of these changes are here to stay. Certain kinds of work, commonly known as "commodity work" will never again command fee increases. The work will go in house, and for the outside lawyers who do it, the profits will be derived from doing the work as efficiently as possible, using technology and paralegal assistance.
My pitch to you, my reader: Do everything you can to stay current on trends; view these changes as an opportunity, not a detriment. Get ahead of the trend line. How do you do it? You attend meetings and seminars and you read everything you can find.
We hope, of course, that you will get involved in the DRI Law Practice Management Committee and help us with our programming and materials. But, that is not enough. I also belong to the ABA Law Practice Committee and find their publications to be fabulous. Every day I read a posting from two free sites, Attorneys at Work and Solo Practice University. While I am not a solo practitioner, I have found that it pays to think like one. Both of these sites have valuable information on a daily basis that I often share with my entire firm. I am also a subscriber to the Remsen Group newsletter where I get cutting edge information on law firm trends.
The bottom line is that it is easy to stay current and it is a MUST if you want to survive and thrive in these changing times. It is not enough for just firm managers to be current. We all need our partners and rising associates to be keeping current so that they are hearing about these changes from someone other than us. Thanks for your time!