HighQ, a UK-based software company serving the legal market, recently initiated  a conversation about SmarltLaw. It started with a website earlier this year. This month, the company released a short e-book that asked 15 experts to answer the question “What do you believe lawyers and law firms need to do to prepare for the future of legal services?” I reproduce here an edited version of my answer. I also provide short background on HighQ and a list of the other contributing experts.

My View on How Firms Must Prepare for the Future

I’m a big proponent of dismantling the caste system so that lawyers work effectively with other professionals, both in their own firm and in other organizations. Doing away with castes will lead to better quality output by informing legal answers with essential disciplines such as marketing, IT , accounting, consulting, engineering, science, and statistics.

Many lawyers present to the world as “masters of the universe”, with all the answers to every question. In fact, however, they don’t have answers to many questions. At least not good and complete answers. To zealously represent clients, the primary ethical mandate, lawyers must consider with whom they work and how. And then work with those other professional as equals.

The caste system is not the only shibboleth that needs tearing down. So too does the lawyer mindset that “I deliver the right answer to my clients and that’s all I need to do”. Of course they must provide the right answer. But clients today want both more and less.

Clients want less in the sense that they need outside counsel who understand the client’s risk tolerance and scope the legal work accordingly. Today, many lawyers do more law than clients need or want.

And client want more in the sense of empathy and better service delivery. Empathy means a true understanding of pressures on the client. Better service delivery means, for example, lawyers who return phone calls and emails, who deliver to expected turnaround time, and who budget accurately and deliver to budget. Better service delivery also means higher value. This requires reducing effort and cost (improving efficiency) with  knowledge management, process improvement, and specialized practice technologies.

About HighQ

HighQ describes itself as a “suite of cloud-based software products combine cutting-edge technology with enterprise grade security, all wrapped up in a consumer-style interface, to help businesses collaborate, communicate and securely share information.”

List of Other Experts Who Answered the Question

The HighQ SmartLaw e-book also includes answers from other thought leaders:

Caroline Ferguson – Living Lawyers
Ivan Rasic – LegalTrek
Lindsay Griffiths – International Lawyers Network
D Casey Flaherty – Procertas
Jordan Furlong – Law21
Michelle Mahoney – King & Wood Mallesons
Ari Kaplan – Lawcountability
Susan Hackett – Legal Executive Leadership
George Beaton – beaton
Ben Wightwick – HighQ
Jeremy Hopkins – Clerkingwell Consulting
V Mary Abraham – Broadli, Above and Beyond KM
Ryan McClead – HighQ, 3 Geeks and a Law blog