In his post titled “Is it Possible For Lawyers to Embrace New Business Models?“, the Greatest American Lawyer wonders whether lawyers just lack vision and the ability to innovate:
Lawyers are so use to arguing with everyone about everything, that they have no vision. The implication of David’s comment is that lawyers are so good at shooting every idea down, that the concept of change or innovation is analogous to blasphemy. Lawyers are such a sarcastic lot, that they lack the creativity to embrace new ideas.
I think that David has hit upon something that is important. Lawyers can be incredibly smart. Moreover, there are even lawyers who are good businesspersons. So why don’t they make the change? Why is innovation in the practice of law so rare in a time in our history where virtually every other business model is evolving, changing and morphing into something the world has never seen?
Lawyers, by their nature, are opposed to…well they are simply opposed to many things. Their job is to oppose people, ideas and concepts. Because the law is such a mystery to so many clients, it is hard to imagine change being demanded from the client side. Of course, giant corporations do sometimes require innovations and change from the mega law firms that they deal with day to day. However, in a medium sized town like I live in, there are no mega corporations. The concept of a business model different from the traditional hourly billing one is blasphemy.
I wonder about the same thing locally. Law firms are so used to operating in the way they have always operated that it becomes a case that the more things may seem to change in the local legal fraternity, the more it seems they never changed after all and business goes on as usual. As GAL points out, the world is changing at a blistering rate and while South Africans seem to be sheltered from the rapid pace of innovation and change we see overseas, we can’t remain insulated from this trend for very long. If we do, we run the risk of being left far behind as the world becomes more and more connected.
This all applies to law firms as much as it does to our clients. As lawyers, we can’t hope to advise our clients adequately if we fail to keep up with them as they evolve and grow:
It will be impossible for law firms to remain entrenched in their old billing ways when the rest of the world is racing forward with new business models and efficiencies all bent on delivering more value for less money.
Adapt or die? Or perhaps it is more that if you keep doing what you have always been doing, you will keep receiving what you have always received.