The past fifteen years have produced changes to legal delivery, but it’s time for a paradigm shift that delivers real customer impact and enhances experience. The emergence of “New Law” is just such a shift, though the practical details of what it looks like remains elusive. The term has been applied by law startups and firm subsidiaries augmenting traditional legal services as a way to promote innovation. It’s also become a catchphrase for a grouping of legal services providers who differ from established law firms and in-house departments by their business model, approach to work, focus on innovation, use of technology and multidisciplinary expertise (non-lawyers).
While new law is many things to different people, it must be collaborative, fluid, innovative, accessible, affordable, scalable, data-backed and solutions-oriented. In addition, it must be centered on the needs of the enterprise and society it serves. It must also have an integrated platform-based delivery structure that eliminates artificial, lawyer-created distinctions among provider sources and integrates the industry into a single supply chain leveraging infrastructure, pooling expertise, sharing data and risk mitigation, and meeting cost takeout targets.
As a result, the legal industry will more closely resemble the businesses and societies it serves. Its workforce will be more diverse—cognitively, demographically, culturally, and experientially—and it will be highly creative, tech-proficient and empathetic. It will be a team-oriented, interdisciplinary workforce, integrated across enterprise business units and with other legal service providers and suppliers.
Law will rely less on a single, traditional legal practice and more on a legal ecosystem that incorporates a range of collaborating companies, startups, and allied service providers that offer a full suite of legal products and services. This will be a legal services market that provides more options to the business of law and to clients seeking better, faster, more cost-effective legal solutions. It will be a market that is truly integrated and collaborative and that uses its scale and scope to provide agile, fluid, on-demand legal products and services, at the speed of business and society. This is the future of law. The question is whether the legal industry will embrace it. If not, the industry will be left behind by its competitors and by the accelerating changes in business, society, and our global economies.