Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goodbye Lawyer, Hello Legal Workflow and Process Analyst

Legal Futures:  Goodbye Lawyer, Hello Legal Workflow and Process Analyst:

Innovative legal businesses such as Riverview Law, Co-operative Legal Services and Parabis are demanding a new approach to educating and training new lawyers as they create different roles for them, such as project management and data analysis.

Speaking at last week’s Legal Education and Training Review Symposium in Manchester, Karl Chapman – chief executive of Riverview Law – said he would not employ many lawyers currently available because they do not have the right skills. “They cannot do what’s required in a customer service environment,” he explained.

Riverview is creating a host of new roles – all of which he said need some degree of legal knowledge – such as project managers, scoping and pricing analysts, management information and data analysts, knowledge management specialists and client managers. “Some of best people we’ve got are senior lawyers doing legal workflow and process analysis,” he added. ...

The new roles being created by these businesses are evidence for the predictions of Professor Richard Susskind of how legal jobs will develop in a technology enabled future.

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I lived with a Ph.D. chemist lawyer who is now one of Google's senior attorneys. She wasn't a good match for testosteronal big law firms so kept getting bad enough reviews to have to move on to, ironically, bigger and better firms every couple of years. However, in between jobs, there were very few offers for lower paying mellow work. I mean, economically, if law jobs are scarce, uh, a sort of glass floor is being held up by an industry that would rather bunker up and fight for old school wages for the same limited number of positions instead of simply adjusting legal service prices downwards. This is kind of like rent control where a few families pass apartments down to their kids or domestic partners here in Manhattan, apartments that might hold twice as many people as roommates. Manhattan criminal courts continue to embody 90%+ of defendants using free public defenders rather than paid lawyers because they still cost thousands instead of hundreds, all the while hoards of freshly minted lawyers work as waiters. After all, law, requires almost zero overhead compared to, say, medicine. No million dollar MRI scanner is needed, and legal representation is, optionally, free. Thus there is little naturally imposed barrier to practice or lack of demand for an individual lawyer with laptop access to legal references, so claiming there is a lack of jobs for lawyers is not clear thinking, given that demand is certainly there. If there's thousands of under-employed patent lawyers, why does it still cost $10K for a patent application? The bubble that must burst here is the price of legal services. All it will take is the legal equivalent of mall franchise hair cutting chain stores that overlap with online marketing and paperless office work.

Posted by: NikFromNYC | Jul 19, 2012 1:37:51 PM

My firm's director of legal services (essentially merged customer service and caseflow coordinator positions) is a non-attorney. Our clients are happier and so are our attorneys who report to her.

It is difficult to figure out where we would have have found an attorney with the needed skill set.

Posted by: Offshore Attorney | Jul 19, 2012 4:16:01 AM