Forbes, Legal Delivery at The Speed of Business — And Why It Matters:
“Time is Money” wrote Benjamin Franklin in a 1748 essay titled Advice to a Young Tradesman. Franklin was a polymath—scientist, statesman, publisher, inventor and diplomat. Is it coincidence that he was almost everything except an attorney? Lawyers have a different take on time than other industries. The legal profession uses it as a price gauge—more is better. Lawyers rationalize excessive time as ‘attention to detail’-- and justification for a larger bill. The profession rewards input (time/origination) over output (efficiency/results). This is the inverse of Franklin’s view that time is a precious commodity to be apportioned prudently. It is also contrary to business where rapid risk assessment and decisive decision-making is the norm.
How have lawyers preserved a culture and tempo so asynchronous to the clients—and society—they covenant to represent zealously, competently, and within the boundaries of the law? The legal profession seeded and assiduously cultivated an ethos of “lawyers and ’non-lawyers’” that became the cornerstone of lawyer exceptionalism. Law is provincial by design; each jurisdiction has its own practice rules designed to keep out ‘interlopers.’ The profession constructed regulatory barriers to ensure that ‘non-lawyers’ could not compete for what lawyers deemed ‘legal’ work. Law was insular and operated at a pace designed to accommodate a ‘scorched earth’ approach to all tasks, regardless of value. This served the economic model of the traditional law firm partnership model.
Law has operated as a guild for generations. It controlled membership, licensure, practice rules, regulation, delivery, supply, pricing, and terms of engagement. Lawyers dictated how, by whom, within what timeframes, and at what price their services were delivered. Their economic model was built on leverage, high rates, exorbitant billable hours, and no ‘outside’ competition. The judicial process also operated at its own languid pace. Judges were loath to rule from the bench or chastise counsel for dilatory practices. If justice delayed is justice denied, then the judiciary is out-of-synch with a world that demands rapid, binding, and efficient resolution of disputes. ...
Law schools—and their ABA accreditors—must take steps to reduce the crippling cost of legal education and compress programs to two years of ‘classroom’ courses and one devoted to experiential learning/legal residency. Flipped classrooms, self-help tools, and webinars will reduce cost and foster agile, just-in-time learning. Law schools would benefit students, themselves, the industry, and consumers were they to forge alliances with the marketplace and to teach the skills it demands. Fewer graduates will have traditional ‘practice’ careers, but there are expanding opportunities for ‘T-shaped’ legal professionals. The industry—and consumers—will benefit from a more diverse pool of legal professionals.
June 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink
| Comments (5)