This week featured two days of publication postings and interactive web meetings between some of the legal profession’s vanguard thinkers – legal rebels, if you will.
Following are the most interesting excerpts from some interesting pieces written by very prolific thinkers on the legal industry as well as personal contributors to our most recent book. First, is a quote from Larry Ribstein followed by some provocative thoughts by Bruce MacEwwn. In addition, an excerpt by Richard Susskinds, mainstay of change happening in the legal industry.
Larry Ribstein: Ethics Rules Are Spinning BigLaw Into ‘Death Spiral’
“Ethical rules governing lawyers are designed to maintain the illusion that law practice is something other than a business…. The forces dispelling this illusion include increased market pressures on clients to hold down costs, increased media attention on the law business enabling clients to peer into the formerly black box of law firms, heightened global competition in legal services, a robust outsourcing market, and the expanded role of in-house counsel.”
Bruce MacEwen: It’s Time to Abolish the Role of the State Bar
“As a card-carrying capitalist, I believe in the virtues of states competing amongst themselves to provide favorable business environments for purposes of their choosing. Delaware has famously done it for incorporating the Fortune 500, South Dakota for credit card processors, and Nevada for gaming companies (and, time was, divorcees).”
“Why not incite competition among states for law firm LLC/LLP incorporations? Let firms—and their individual practitioners—choose what jurisdiction they wish to be subject to. Perhaps New York or California, or Wyoming, would decide to grant its lawyers US-wide practice rights. Full faith and credit clause, anyone?”
“Does this call for abolishing the role of state bar associations? Precisely. Beyond the role of attempting to perpetuate outmoded notions of territorial guild societies, what is their role? (I told you this harked back to feudalism.)”
“Isn’t it time, in our BlackBerry/iPhone/WiFi/time zone-irrelevant world, to be able to choose where our firms are ‘incorporated’ and where we are ‘admitted to practice?’”
“Invariably, general counsel tell me they are now under three pressures: to reduce the size of their in-house teams; to spend less on external law firms; and to find ways of coping with more and riskier legal and compliance work than in the past.”
“To achieve the efficiencies needed, I say that legal services will evolve from bespoke service at one end of a spectrum along a path, passing through the following stages: standardization, systematization, packaging, and commoditization. Many new ways of sourcing will emerge (outsourcing, off-shoring, sub-contracting, co-sourcing, and more) and these will often be combined in the conduct of individual pieces of legal work. I call this multi-sourcing.”
These ideas confirm the importance of being aware of how changes in the legal landscape impact your law firm or business and making appropriate adaptations to strengthen your position.
More background on the ABA series is available at Legal Rebels.