Monday, July 23, 2012

Consumerism: A Demon for old-fashioned Law Firms


“It has become expensive to practice law as cost of operating a law practice is becoming prohibitive.” “People or consumers have to learn that lawyers are not in law for the fun of it but are in it to make money.” “Clients can have all of the access for which they are willing to pay.”

The above are some examples of the comments which have been made by lawyers over the internet. Not only on the internet but you will find similar responses whenever lawyers are being asked about consumerism which is becoming incipient, slowly but gradually in legal profession as well.

The demon called consumerism has already started tormenting lawyers worldwide as it is quietly squeezing their profits and leaving them with no other option but to look for innovative ways in order to survive. The profession which was once termed as golden goose is experiencing a backward inertia which is refusing to accept this brutal reality. The rise in their expenses or an alteration in the value of money has only made things worse for them. It was actually the economic pressures which led to the industrial revolution in manufacturing industry and this time it is bound to take the legal profession by storm.

But as they say “With Challenge Comes Opportunity” and therefore the imprints of the transformation can already been seen as some of the law firms have realized it beforehand. They have by now started analyzing various models that can lead to the increase in the efficiency and productivity of their firm.

Though the process of transformation is still in progress, there are some solutions that are available for the legal fraternity at present. Outsourcing is one of them, which is not new to law firms as well. Whilst it is quite common for law firms to outsource their IT, accounts, administration departments to increase their efficiency, they are still to come to terms with legal outsourcing which is just an extension and nothing else. It’s just the division of the work carried out by the lawyers and paralegals in the legal department, analyzing the monotonous and repetitive work and then allocating it to the right vendor in order to increase the efficiency and the productivity of the firm.

And this is exactly why I think that outsourcing could be a viable option if implemented properly. I’m saying this not because of the hoopla which usually surrounds outsourcing, not because of some extraordinary facts that support this industry but just because of the principle it is based upon.  Apparently, it is based on the same principle which was adopted in the times of industrial revolution which is “work specialization”. 

Having said that, if someone needs to be on even terms with this change it has to be small law firms or sole practitioners but unfortunately they are the ones who are repulsing it. Such is the struggle that the number of sole practitioner firms fell from 4,056 in March 2010 to just 3,692 by March 2011. With ABS and other legal reform coming in, I do not see the situation getting any better from here. In the end, I just want to say that the time has come for law firms to embrace the change in order to survive. 

I hope law practitioners realize the need to transform before getting engulfed in the quick sand which is spreading in the industry.
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