Unless today is your last day of work and from tomorrow you can finally enjoy your well-deserved rest, you are a lawyer of tomorrow and you should be interested in knowing what the future of legal services holds for you, what your professional future holds for you
Richard Susskind, lawyer, professor at the University of Oxford and technology consultant to the highest bodies of British justice, describes the revolution that is about to take place in the market of legal services and the administration of justice.
According to the author, the structural changes that will affect the world of justice are not only now on the horizon but are already imminent. Many others, on the other hand, are already taking place but the majority of experts are still struggling to notice and accept them.
Although Susskind’s research focused on the Anglo-Saxon world and the major international law firms, his work is not short-lived but it has a global perspective. It offers important ideas for today’s and tomorrow’s legal practitioners, providing all legal professionals with an ‘instruction manual’.
The legal market is going through a phase of deep change, never experienced before, and in a short time the work of lawyers will be radically different from today. New forms of legal services and new professional figures will emerge soon. The work of the courts and judges will also be subject to radical changes.
The future landscape of the legal profession, as imagined and foreseen by the author, will be driven by three points of change: the liberalization of the legal sector, the challenge of More-For-Less, which consists in providing more legal services at lower costs, and technological innovation.
The liberalization process will result in the emergence of new forms of legal services and will open the way, in a context not strictly regulated, to the emergence of new professions. The need to respond to customers’ need to obtain more services at more sustainable costs than in the past will irreversibly change the way we work.
The most powerful force for change, however, will be the technological revolution.
The transformations, that the author expects for lawyers and the administration of justice, will be irreversible and pervasive. Between new ways of gaining access to justice, legal services offered and made available online and trials celebrated in virtual courts, in the next twenty years the legal activity will suffer such changes as to make it unrecognizable in the eyes of today’s observers.
In particular, the development of Artificial Intelligence will have particularly effects. Artificial Intelligence systems will be able not only to analyze huge amounts of data – this is the world of machine learning and Big Data – but also to answer questions and solve complex legal problems in an “intelligent” way. The ability to recognize people’s feelings and emotions will lead to the use of such technology also in the assessment of responsibility.
Once the process of transition to a society based exclusively on technology will have been completed, the next step, Susskind foresees, will be the incorporation of the entire legal system into microprocessors and networks which will be incorporated into the work processes of professionals.
Beyond the correctness of Susskind’s time perspectives, it is indisputable that the absence of changes in the legal world is the least likely future and that it is, therefore, necessary to be ready for change by becoming its leader.