What is the speed of change in the legal market?   Do we live in a New Normal?  At least in the social media and conference sphere, many ask those questions.  Several published items yesterday and today address the question, which I report here.

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American Lawyer Media editor-in-chief Aric Press asks Will Law Firms Adapt—or Go the Way of the Dodo?  He cites a legal market study from 1963 and an update to it to illustrate that firms have changed quite a bit in the past.  But he cautions that, unlike 50 years ago, firms today face competition from a host of non-law-firm players.

Toby Brown at 3 Geeks asks and answers a similar question  in Not So Fast….. He thinks that BigLaw will see change but not very fast. His analogy is the 19th Century railroad ‘revolution’.  That ‘revolution’ took 50 years!

Steve Nelson of The McCormick Group, writing at Attorney at Work, asks What Does the Future Hold for Lawyers?  His answer summarizes key points of the Futures Conference hosted last week by the College of Law Practice Management.  In five succinct bullet points, he covers some of the major forces that affect lawyers and the legal market.

Jean O’Grady, at her Dewy B. Strategic blog asks Has Legal Process Outsourcing Peaked?  Many of us long thought that legal process outsourcing (LPO) would be a big and disruptive change.  I cheated a little bit here because Jean has another sentence in her title that answers the question: New ALM Study Reports Waning GC Interest.  The findings she cites clearly tell us LPO has not grown nearly as rapidly as many of us (myself included) expected.  As I noted in my Tweet, however, LPO did show the legal market the value of lower cost labor, process improvement, and factory efficiency.

And finally, we see that a few firms publicly embrace faster change.  Legal Futures reports that Addleshaws lays out future vision: fewer lawyers, fewer firms, new business models.  “The legal market of 2020 will have 25% fewer lawyers and 20% fewer firms, with new business models and disruptive legal technologies sitting at the core of the provision of legal services, leading firm Addleshaw Goddard has predicted.”  The firm has established a low-cost service center with a “100-strong transaction services team, with paralegals handling routine work.”  That’s the old news. The new news is that the firm will launch a ”  ‘flexible resource pool’ – a group of freelance lawyers that can advise clients on lower-level work at a cheaper price than the main firm.”

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I leave it to readers or those willing to comment to answer the opening the question.