It’s no secret that we’re living in a time of tremendous upheaval, economically and socially. Double-digit unemployment, a real estate market that’s right out of Mad Max, and an era when technology is allowing us to be closer to one another than ever before without leaving our chairs.
We could say it’s the end of the world, or the beginning of one. Whatever you choose to call it, this is clearly something we’ve never experienced before in our lifetimes.
So it’s safe to say that the legal industry won’t be the same in a decade as it is today. More lawyers in the field, big law firms adroitly maneuvering jobs overseas or automating them, and everyone doing their best to be as efficient as possible. Consumers of legal services will have a wealth of accessible knowledge at their fingertips, leading to a more educated audience than ever before.
What will you do when the guillotine falls on your job, on your firm? Notice that I didn’t say if, I said when. Because we know full well that as technology continues to bring information directly into the consumer’s hands, some won’t need us any longer. They will either learn how to get themselves out of trouble or they will resolve their issues with some modicum of self-help.
Your expertise will be communicated in new ways. Your online presence will be the only one that matters to many people. Your reputation will rest squarely on the shoulders of electronic giants. It already does, of course, but most of the profession is still riding on fumes.
I’ve been reading a lot about Lemonade, the 35 minute documentary that shows a bunch of people who found inspiration when their employers ran out of fumes. I finally had a chance to watch it last night after reading yet another mention of it, and it made me wonder.
When the legal profession finally comes around to a full-scale adoption of technology and social tools to generate business and educate the audience, there will no longer be a need for such a volume of lawyers. Some – the ones who adopted early on – will most likely live to tell the tale. Most, however, won’t be so fortunate.
If you were one of the less fortunate, what would you do with your life?
I already have my answer. Take 35 minutes and watch Lemonade, then give me yours.