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“Yeah! That told you, Susskind!”

More conservative reaction in the Law Society Gazette letter pages this week.

The letter author wonders “Will we now see Professor Susskind eat a large slice of humble pie, presumably at the creditors’ meetings of those defunct practices?”

This is because two large conveyancing factories/organisations folded last week. According to the letter author they were the “Biggest examples of firms who followed …Susskind’s regular entreaties… to `commoditise’ legal work.”

Not quite the point is it?

1. Just because those models failed does not mean that legal practice can remain static.

2. Those ventures failed because of the downturn in the property market and economy generally and the massive reduction in bank interest rates, not because of lack of need for legal practices to adapt to technological advances.

3. Susskind does not suggest that legal services should be commoditised in any event. That is a frequently repeated shorthand reduction of the argument. There are no less than 3 levels of work between the conventional bespoke level and the far side of commoditisation.

What Susskind advocates, if I have understood the book correctly, and I think I have, is not that we rush to commoditisation at all. Instead, consider where we provide value to our clients, and where the intervening grades of service might enable us to provide those services in a fashion more in keepng with the markets changing demands and expectations.

At this time when we are celebrating Darwin’s life and writing, it seems to me that an analogous situation is seen in our own profession between those who embrace evolution – a word Susskind does use in place of commoditisation – of legal services and the legal profession’s equivalent of creationist thinking.

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