By Grombo - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=888253

The future is here, but many of us don’t know it.

Technology has been a fundamental component of the practice of law for a quarter-century; but most law firms have failed to understand how it is fundamentally changing – indeed, already has fundamentally changed – the practice of law. 

No one can deny that the business of practicing law will probably be much more difficult ten years from now than it is even today; and that the seismic changes that technology has introduced into the business world will contribute to that challenge: operationally, ethically, financially, and strategically. Law firms will have to continue to evolve. Not all will be able to do so.

Marcel Proust

 

 

To paraphrase Marcel Proust, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes

A focus group of your best clients could be your best guide to seeing, understanding, and becoming a "law firm of the future."

Leon Lhermitte - Paying the Harvesters (public domain)

It sometimes seems as if there is an almost infinite range of structures and options for partner compensation systems in law firms. Choosing among them can be a challenge for anyone.

The biggest challenge for most law firms, however, is actually making the change, once they have decided what it will be.

 Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13018 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Law firm partners should invest a few minutes in their own future, by watching a recent series of TED Talks about artificial intelligence.

licensed by Walker Clark LLC from Getty Images

The melodramatic title and image for this posting might overstate the point; but it is one that small and midsize law firms frequently overlook when recruiting a partner from another law firm.

Don't make decisions about how to navigate through this very important decision based only on what you believe that you see above the waterline.

International law firms in Asia, and elsewhere, should consider attending the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on 6-7 September 2017. 

public domain image from the U.S. Department of Defense

No.

But artificial intelligence will be as much a part of the "law firm of the future" as desks and paper have been for the past 200 years.

It also can be part of the "law firm of today."

The ABA Journal reports that lawyer salaries in the United States have fallen behind those of other professions.

It does not have to be that way.

By Eric Kilby (Flickr: Speeding By) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The International Bar Association has announced a conference on "Building the Law Firm of the Future," to be held in November 2017 in London.

It sounds interesting.

But I wonder if they have the topic backwards.

18th century painting of a dodo by Roelant Savery [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the past few weeks, I have enjoyed stimulating discussions with several Walker Clark clients about whether their law firms should have non-equity partners.

This subject leads to one basic question that has profound implications for many law firms today:

Should we have partners at all?