This is part 2 of a 6 part series. Click here for Part 1.
So what responses, other than the binary reduction set out at the end of part 1 does “The End of Lawyers?” evoke? The Law Society’s Gazette carried a vitriolic and indignant reaction to what the author called Susskind’s “Doom laden prognoses.” You can read it in full here. I think the letter demonstrates a fairly typical lawyerly reaction to the suggestions Susskind promotes, namely that we will see a move away from fully bespoke services towards, ultimately, commoditisation.
This letter contains many reactions, such as indignation and anger, (“With great respect, what utter tosh.”) a refusal to engage in the debate, (“So I for one will not be buying Susskind’s book”) and a misunderstanding at best, an unattractive appetite at worst, that change or evolution will only bring the author “The prospect of being richly paid to untangle the mistakes made by lay persons trying to practise law online.”
It is naturally tempting to dismiss Susskind’s musings. Without a doubt, they present a very real threat to the profession if they were to come about. many others choose to engage and entertain the ideas but cannot accept that technology will make any difference to them in particular. As Susskind writes at the very outset of his book, pg2-3;
“…lawyers say that they accept a shake-up in the legal profession is long overdue and that my ideas about the transformation of the legal services apply across the board, except for one vital area of legal practice – their own.”
We can choose to keep on doing what we have always done, and justify our self-deception with passionate, strident arguments as to why possible changes will not affect us. Or we can choose to engage in the debate, to read, or hear Susskind out, and consider how the arguments might impact us, our law firms, and yes, even our very jobs and livelihoods.