Demand for legal services in the future will not fall. Instead, customers will start spending their money with newer law firms and the cause of this change in legal spending will be new technology that will reduce the value of transactions.
Most law firms have yet to board the new technology train. Customers buying patterns have already slowly started to change, and it is not a case of it might happen, it has already begun to happen. The important question is, will your firm be on board the train?
The problem with the legal industry is very simple. Customers will want to buy things that most law firms won't be selling. The majority of lawyers only sell one thing, 'time by the hour' and customers in the future won't be interested in buying that, they want fixed priced solutions. Start-ups and technology will sort out the problem, and in the future, that is where the money will go.
As demand changes, old law firms will carry on selling the same old solutions with arguments as to why customers are wrong.
Law firms need to look at acquiring start-ups and operating under different brands and new business models. They need to start thinking differently and diversifying. If your law firms doesn't change, you will not be able to respond to the future needs of customers. Rest assured that if you don't respond, the legal market is so large that someone else will take your customers.
The choice is yours. Partners can carry on thinking about what wine to drink this weekend and where to go holiday or reflect on the insolvency company they might have to appoint in the future. Don't forget that disruptors always come from outside the industry. I'm a retailer, and I'm only interested in one thing, the customer.
The solicitor's favourite line is “Look, you just don’t understand” and presumably you'll charge me by the hour to explain why I don't understand.
Search 'Ajaz Ahmed Freeserve' on Google
This blog was first published in Retail Week in response to another column.
I read your column about the new Apple store with great interest. You ended it with "Or am I just being curmudgeonly?" I'm from the North, so I had to go to my Apple Air and type it into Google to find out what "curmudgeonly" means, I now know what it means.
The photos of the store look beautiful, we don't have a store like that up here, I can't wait to buy a cheap day return train ticket to visit Regent Street to look at the refurbished Apple store and the Burberry store I've heard so much about. I'll probably want to get my 'Prayer Mat' out and start praying to good design when I'm down there.
I was once talking to the Chancellor of our local University, and we began talking about our Apple phones, he then said "Have been visited the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York?", " No" I replied, "You must go there on your next visit, it's stunning, it's worth a visit" I couldn't believe I was talking to someone about a shop.
The Chancellor at the University of Huddersfield is a local lad, Sir Patrick Stewart, I couldn't believe that Jean-Luc Picard of the Star Trek Enterprise was telling me to visit an Apple Store, he was telling how good it was, that's the Apple effect. (I was on the Governing Council at the University)
I'm the founder of Freeserve, and I was invited to the opening of the Apple Store and was there when it first opened and from the photographs of the refurbished store, it look's different from when it first opened.
The big thing a lot of businesses get wrong is "Pivot", you need to keep changing. Lots of businesses only change after they have problems, read this magazine and look at examples of companies that are going through change because their customers are abandoning them. Apple stores are still busy because they go through a pivot when people are still shopping with them. Obviously, people don't understand this. And his comment about “Samsung are coming,” not a Samsung 7 on a plane I hope, you'd get arrested.
In 1786, the cloth workers of Leeds, the textile centre of England, issued a protest against the growing use of “scribbling” machines, which were taking over a task formerly performed by skilled labour. “How are those men, thus thrown out of employ to provide for their families?” asked the petitioners. “And what are they to put their children apprentice to?”
When disruption comes, and make no mistake, it is going to come, some of the victims of disruption will be people who are currently considered highly skilled, and who invested a lot of time and money in acquiring those skills. In the legal world, we are going to be seeing a lot of “automation of knowledge work,” with software and Artificial Intelligence doing things that used to require skills only a university graduate possessed.
So, when change comes, should people in the legal profession simply be prepared to acquire new skills? The wool workers of 18th-century Leeds addressed this issue back in 1786: “Who will maintain our families, while we undertake the arduous task of learning a new trade?” They also asked, what will happen if the new trade, in turn, gets devalued by further technological advance?
And the modern counterparts of those wool workers might well ask further "what will happen to us if?" Like so many students, we acquire the skills we are told we need, only to learn that the economy no longer wants those skills?
So, what’s the answer? To predict the future, we have only to look at the past, and we can simply look at history. We can’t pretend that change isn’t going to happen, so we can’t carry on making well-crafted arguments for maintaining the status quo because no one person can delay the inevitable.
The big question is, are we going to behave like the Luddites?