The legal profession continues to be one of the most highly sought after and respected fields in the business world today. It seems that nearly every person and entity is in need of some type of legal advice at multiple times throughout their life cycle. As there are many different avenues of practice available to a lawyer today, people entering the legal field can use their own unique talents and interests to serve the public how they best see fit. At the same time, this is a profession that is undergoing radical change. The barriers to entry are many, and the path to success is far more narrow than at perhaps any point in history to this point. With that in mind, it is essential to consider the following challenges that lawyers are facing today.
It is no secret that technology seems to be impacting almost every area of life today. What used to take ten people to do can now likely be done with one human and a small computer. That is just one example of how technology has impacted society. When it comes to the legal profession, lawyers are simply not as necessary as they once were. There used to be a day when even the most basic of legal needs required a lawyer because the average person did not have access to the necessary research. Today, nearly everything can be located online meaning that many people and organizations can conduct their own legal searches and cut out the need for a lawyer altogether in many situations.
This is a challenge that lawyers face. When clients arrive today, many attorneys must spend time working with the client to inform them what is correct and not correct regarding the information that they brought with them to the consultation. In addition, online automation is stealing clients from human firms. There are now services online where individuals can purchase a wide range of legal documents. Lawyers used to fill out these documents, but now automation is taking charge of the process. In order to overcome this, attorneys must separate themselves out from the impersonal service offered by a computer and showcase to their clients the worth that they bring to the table.
It is no secret that many lawyers enter the profession because of the good living that they are able to make. While the hours might be long and tiresome in those first few years, the dividend is the higher fees that one can command with the experience that they have under their belt. At the same time, lawyers have traditionally provided a valuable service that individuals and organizations have been more than willing to pay for in the past. Times are now changing in this regard. There are many new low-cost entities entering the legal community that offers many of these services at a fraction of the cost.
The challenge that lawyers face here is that consumers now have more choices when it comes to getting legal advice. These choices have given them a feeling of empowerment that they have never had before. Whereas the only option used to be a local lawyer that was located nearby, individuals and organizations today can choose from a wide range of options available on the Internet. As such, lawyers are having to examine their approach to the service that they offer, including their existing fee structure. This does not mean that lawyers must accept less financial compensation in the end, but it does mean that they need to approach their business model from a different perspective than they are used to.
The legal profession used to be highly localized. While this is still true when it comes to state or community based legal proceedings, many areas of the law can be handled from afar. This has led to the opening of global competition in the legal profession. Because of this, lawyers have been opening offices in foreign countries for many years, with few barriers to entry being evident. That is beginning to change. Many law firms today are finding it increasingly difficult to open up shop overseas, and it may not be financially prudent to do so. Not only is there stiff competition in many markets around the world today, the financial expense of becoming licensed to practice may no longer be worth it. This cuts into a revenue stream that many firms had grown to count on, even in this era of technological revolution.
With technology has come the need for many governments to place even more restrictions on the legal profession. There are rules and regulations that lawyers have been used to following for years that are now under review and subject to change. At the same time, this is one challenge that can end up benefiting lawyers in the future. If change can be embraced, lawyers can begin to use technology to their advantage. It can open up new potential lines of business that were previously unavailable. It can also streamline operations, meaning that each individual can get work done much more quickly. This means that more clients can be accepted, even if the fees collected are lower. A change in the business plan might be in order, but this is one challenge that can up positively impacting the legal profession.
The world has always been in a constant state of change. That is not new. What is different today is the rate at which this change is occurring. It has impacted the legal profession, causing many challenges to arise that were not there a generation ago. Lawyers who are willing to embrace change and can alter their model of conducting business will likely survive. Those who refuse to change, however, will likely find themselves left out in the dark. It is important to understand what these challenges are so that they can be met head one. That is how one can overcome and flourish in a changing environment.
Author Harper Harmon is a freelance writer and blogger who focuses on business, health and other various topics. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from UCLA and currently resides in Santa Cruz with her dog, Sassy.