New Ways of Doing Law

The legal industry’s focus is shifting from serving lawyers and their profit-focused business models to the customer/end-user’s needs, expectations, and experience. In the process, a new way of doing law is emerging. Many firms, startups and law firm subsidiaries augmenting traditional legal services are using the term “new law” to promote this paradigm shift.

It is hard to know exactly what the term new law means in practice because so much of this shift involves change management and human adaptation. Nevertheless, there are some basic characteristics that we can observe in the new law landscape.

The first characteristic of new law is collaboration. This includes collaboration amongst allied legal professionals in the firm and with outside vendors on the legal work product side; collaboration between and within law firms and their client companies on the business of law side; and collaboration across the entire legal supply chain. This eliminates artificial, lawyer-created distinctions between provider sources and creates integrated legal delivery platforms that meet end-user demand and exceed cost takeout targets.

In addition, the new law model requires an agile and multidisciplinary team approach involving lawyers, allied legal professionals, process/project managers, data scientists, and technologists to design fit-for-purpose technology for specific legal processes and projects that address material challenges from an end-user perspective. This is not the same as leveraging technology for its own sake, which has become an end unto itself for many “legal techies.”

Another important characteristic of the new law model is its emphasis on innovation and a focus on creating business opportunities by proactively identifying, eradicating, mitigating, or extinguishing risk and securing valuable commercial opportunities that would otherwise be lost. This enables the legal function and cross-functional enterprise colleagues to free up time for core business objectives, avoid significant lost opportunity costs of protracted disputes, and produce more well-informed risk assessment and decision driving.

Lastly, the new law model emphasizes transparency. This includes ensuring that all stakeholders have access to the process of decision making, documents and statistics that lead to determinations. It also requires that all parties provide timely responses to information requests pertaining to personal information accessed, disclosed or used by an unauthorized person.

The new law landscape is evolving rapidly, and it remains to be seen what it will look like in the future. However, it appears that a few broad guiding principles are emerging: (1) large-scale legal buyer activism; and (2) corporate Goliaths with the brand, capital, market share, customer-centricity, data mastery, technology platforms, agile, multidisciplinary workforces, and footprint in/familiarity with the legal industry to reverse engineer existing legal paradigms that reward them for their past performance. As this shift takes shape, we will see a new law that better serves customers and society and drives greater value for the legal industry. It will be a true revolution.