Change, competition and clients

The pace of change in and around the legal profession these days can’t really be overstated. The external marketplace of legal services is transforming itself daily — vast numbers of non-lawyers are now supplying legal services to clients, who have more knowledge and leverage than ever before. Simultaneously, young lawyers are redrawing the internal map of the profession, forcing cultural change in the practice of law on a nationwide scale.

Whether we like it or not, major change is coming to the legal profession. We can’t stop the change, and we’d waste time and resources trying. What we need to do is understand the full breadth of what’s happening, quickly consider our options, and plot a course that best serves the long-term interests of lawyers — and of clients.

Maybe it’s a little late to start, but from here on in, we have to consider clients in every plan we make for the future of our profession. We have to think about what services clients want, how they want these services delivered, how much they will pay for them, and how they want that price to be set.

Lawyers have been long accustomed to deciding most of those things unilaterally. Not anymore.

This post originally appeared as the editorial in the July/August 2005 issue of National magazine.