I am attending Law Firm Evolution: Brave New World or Business As Usual? at the Georgetown Center for the Study of the Legal Profession. Here is my session report on the concluding remarks by David B. Wilkins, Lester Kissel Professor of Law and Director, Program on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School.  

Big Structural Changes
1. Globalization – lawyers should look for where money changes hands and that is increasingly moving east
2. Rise of Information Technology – tech re-making every aspect of the world; the change is accelerating
3. Disintegration of 19th Idea of Distinct Fields such as law, accounting, business – knowledge is multi- and inter-discplinary

Impact of Structural Changes on Legal Profession

1. Legal services are being disaggregated and unbundled and being re-packaged and re-located
2. Basis of competition will shift from reputation + credentials to results + value – clients want value defined on their terms, which will be data-driven
3. Move from focus on firms to focus on networks – barriers between firms and clients going down, virtual teams, boundary-less work; clients will hire teams

The Challenges for Large Law Firms
1. Firms will have to embrace rather than shun commodification curve – even sophisticated know-how spreads and loses special know-how status); commodified work can be very profitable (e.g., Accenture)
2. Creating a common culture in global and networked economy – people move to best opportunities; firms need to develop ‘open architecture’
3. Manage “paradox of professional distinctiveness” – law firms face pressure to emulate practices of other successful global businesses but if they become too much like their clients, it will be hard to recruit and regulators will be less likely to give lawyers special rights (e.g., attorney-client privilege); need a new definition professionalism