This is the fourth in a series about the five emerging faces of the legal industry.
In the new economy, lawyers don’t just compete against other lawyers for a share of the legal services market, they also compete against non lawyers.
Lawyers’ continued reliance on the billable hour has many businesses looking for more efficient ways to address some of the more routine and administrative aspects of legal work — particularly as it relates to document review and document creation. In-house counsel and business leaders frustrated by the high costs of legal services are increasingly turning to non-law firm services providers who provide lower cost alternatives.
Non-lawyers will never replace the complex knowledge work that lawyers offer. But many firms have done a horrible job of selling the value of that knowledge. Instead, they have built their businesses around billing large numbers of hours for document creation and document review. Non-law firm providers — e.g. outsourced contract attorneys, HR consultants, document review technology, contract management software — now reduce the need for lawyers to provide these services.
Law firms who aren’t rethinking the business processes associated with the way they do business risk losing a significant share of legal work to non-law firms who can leverage lower cost personnel and technology to streamline aspects of legal work.
That said, there are opportunities for law firms to partner with rather than try to compete against non-law firm services providers to enhance the delivery of legal services. Law firms win by responding directly to a client pain point. Clients win because they same the time and administrative burden of identifying and vetting outsourced providers.