Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is merely to bring The New Normal to your attention. If you’re already tracking this conversation, you probably won’t get much from this post. If not, then read on.
Back in October 2010, over at the ABA Journal, a discussion was started about the significant changes going on in the delivery of legal services:
Our view is that law is now in the midst (we think of it as the top of third inning) of a dramatic change, in all likelihood the most dramatic of our professional lifetimes. Defining what this “new normal” means is the subject of this blog.
Driven by Legal OnRamp founder Paul Lippe and Valorem Law Group founder Patrick J. Lamb, The New Normal has become a great place to engage on the subject with some pretty serious legal services change thinkers.
Recently, the discussion took up the topic of measuring legal services. From Lippe’s What if Someone Could Measure What Lawyers Do?:
Based on what we’re seeing with sophisticated legal departments, the four horsemen of the New Normal will be:
• Legal process outsourcing.
• Substitution of technology for people in repetitive work.
• Treating legal work as teamwork rather than individual work.
• The emergence of one or several standards for measuring quality (perhaps value) in legal services.
The New Normal doesn’t claim that 100 percent of today’s legal work gets disrupted in this way, but 30 to 40 percent will—with significant impact.
Yet whenever we introduce this topic for the first time, some skeptic will insist these things are impossible. Nowhere is that more true than when we talk about measuring lawyer quality, which invariably yields: “Well, of course you can’t measure what I do.”
Measuring what lawyers do is no different—it is part of an overall evaluation. The key, it seems, is what to measure. What you measure depends to a great extent on the kind of practice you have. For example, if you represent consumers, it may be important to measure how many people call you, and you need not be concerned about repeat business. On the other hand, if you represent corporate clients, it is (or should be) important to track how many hire you for a second and more matters.
Working with, and having several friends who are lawyers in various fields, it is clear to me that there are significant changes occurring related to the delivery of legal services, as well as, the way in which people, companies, and organizations make legal hiring decisions.
While I’m not sure what “inning of change” we are currently in, the full impact of these changes is just recently beginning to take hold.
From the posts that I have read (admittedly not every single one), the discussions taking place at The New Normal provide some pretty good insight as to where the profession is headed, for both the better and worse.
So, whether you question whether the delivery of legal services is really undergoing a dramatic change, or you’re wondering how these changes are likely to impact your practice, I encourage you to join the discussion.