“In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.”
— Michael McFaul, National Security Council
We are in the midst of a true revolution in the delivery of legal services. And upon reading that, it’s likely that you will fall into one of two camps: those who have already heard the guns firing and who are nodding their heads in agreement, and those who dismiss all the warnings of imminent change as excessive and overwrought.
If you’re part of the first group, I look forward to hearing your reports from the front lines. If you’re part of the second group, and it strikes you as hyperbole that anything could really change the legal industry in this country, in our lifetimes, please read on. Because many of those sounding the alarms happen to be more Paul Revere than Chicken Little.
Take Bruce MacEwen, for one. If you don’t know Bruce, you should. He is the talent behind the thought-provoking Adam Smith, Esq. blog, which looks at far-reaching trends in the legal profession. As the name of his blog implies, he is interested in the business and economics of law. Forgive me for stealing from the old E.F. Hutton ads, but when Bruce speaks, people listen.
And so, when Bruce said, “Outsourcing is here to stay” in a recent post, it’s worth paying attention. He was not talking about software development. He was talking about legal services that have always been provided by top-tier law firms to their corporate clients. But now there’s a new vendor of legal services in the room and it’s not a traditional law firm. It’s another animal altogether that some have labeled Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO).
Bruce continues, “Whatever you call it, and whatever you think of its quality, clients have tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree and they’re not going back. If document review can be conducted by Ivy League law school grads…for $50/hour instead of $350/hour, what’s not for a client to like?”