We see lots of changes coming to how large-scale corporate law is practiced. Technology will help (or take on) more and more of the process work that goes into getting deals done:
More high volume work will be packaged off to lower cost, dedicated workers through in- and outsourcing. Lawyers should be excited about these changes. Practice specific technology and outsourcing can help lawyers produce higher quality work product in less time, spend more time on more interesting work, and allow firms that take advantage to make more money.
There's a catch: some firms' business models will have to change. If your firm's business model is driven by junior lawyers billing lots of hours on work that can be well automated or outsourced, and you refuse to change with the times, you will be in trouble. It is really hard to compete with tech and low-cost labor in areas where each works well. Low-cost contract lawyers can do low-end legal work at the same high level as junior lawyers at Biglaw firms (if not better). Predictive coding software does e-discovery document review more accurately than humans in less time for much less money. Our software creates accurate due diligence contract review summary charts in seconds per page, where it takes a careful lawyer minutes per page. If your firm relies on making money off inefficiently doing tasks that can be better, faster and cheaper done otherwise, now is the time to figure out how to make money when this work goes elsewhere.
Happy New Year!
(photo: http://www.flickr.com )