Where are the professionals in our profession? Are we becoming extinct?
Lawyers should be worried. The legal industry is changing at a fast pace. For many attorneys, it is a challenge to keep up. Though opinions diverge, the majority of the professionals in the field believe a crisis is arising in one of the highest paid professions in the world.
“Employment of lawyers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. … This shift will lead to an increase in the demand for lawyers in a variety of settings, such as financial and insurance firms, consulting firms, and healthcare providers (Jun 14, 2019)” – The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It appears as if the demand for lawyers would continue to grow. However, it is anticipated that this increase in lawyers will only “shift” their roles. Though employment of lawyers may increase, so will the variety of jobs they are hired for. This means that they may not necessarily be acting as lawyers, but as clerks and mediators or good “janitors”.
Some have a different opinion:
“Lawyers are not going out of business, but many will soon be changing employers—and not just hopscotching from one firm to another”
“Traditional law firms are at an existential cross road… They will take a long, hard look in the existential mirror and focus on what they can do more expertly and efficiently than anyone in the marketplace… And they will understand their clients’ business better than most do today and, when retained, take a more holistic approach to problem solving than ‘handling a matter.’ The obsolescence of law firms does not imply marginalization of lawyers. But it does mean that lawyers will be working in a global legal marketplace where traditional law firms are no longer the dominant providers and ‘just knowing the law’ and ‘bill baby bill’ won’t cut it anymore.” – Mark A. Cohen (CEO of Legal Mosaic legal business consultancy)
My personal opinion regarding the Israeli law industry:
My personal opinion is that the “lawyer” as we know today, will not exist in a few decades. Within the next 10 years, large law firms and “janitor lawyers” will be leading the market while others will struggle to keep their head above the water.
What is a “janitor lawyer?
One who cleans up the whole mess.
If you haven’t watched the movies: Michael Clayton (2007) and The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), I suggest you do: they present insight into the expectations of today’s lawyers, and a preview of the lawyers of the future.
Clients come to lawyers with high expectations. They expect immediate service with sometimes realistic and sometimes idealistic solutions. Solutions that are not always legally possible or even in the parties’ best interest.
So many times, we hear: “Mr. Attorney, get me out of this mess, Mr. Attorney, I don’t care what you specialize in, you need to do this for me, and/or I heard you can fix anything and this is what I need from you.”
How to solve problems for our clients:
Solutions are not magic. We accomplish results with hard work, knowledge of the law and the system, professionalism, and one more factor: extra sense.
A lawyer needs to know the language and lingo:
I am not only talking about mastering spoken and written Hebrew, but also being familiar with the language and lingo of the system.
The system has its own mannerisms and language:
Each department of the government has a special use of the language, which can sound like its own dialect. Today a good lawyer must be aware of every nuance of this dialect to correctly argue and navigate the system and win his case.
Every tribunal and every judge uses a different language:
They should not but they do. Therefore, before entering a courtroom, a lawyer must know the judge, sense the judge, and embrace the judge, whether or not agreeing with him (he will respect the lawyer for this).
A lawyer must know when to compromise and cut losses when it is a “loser case”. Not every lawyer knows how and when is the right time to back down or compromise. As a result, the client pays the price.
The extra a lawyer must have:
The main attribute of a good lawyer is the ability to avoid conflicts and courtrooms. To win may not always be possible, but it is always possible to minimize loss and damages. The good lawyer accomplishes this task by putting ego aside and focusing on what is in the best interest of the client.
Words of wisdom:
Lawyers are not saints or magicians. Nevertheless, with a noble lawyer representing you, he can work wonders IF you work together.
This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Brazil))