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When one remembers that there is now room for impact that can be made by persons who are not even lawyers, it becomes clear that the new way of doing business and adapting to changing trends and business ideals is already here. The challenge, then, is to find out where the gaps left by these changes are and find a suitable way to fill them.
The Harvard Business Review cites two types of disruptive innovation. An individual or company can either be a low-end disrupter that provides “good enough” service for financially-restrained clients who would generally be overlooked by more traditional brands, or a new-market disrupter that creates a new field where no consumer base existed before. An example used was of Xerox who, although owning most of the photocopying business in the 1970s, was challenged by makers of personal printers who gave the overlooked, small clients and business more access to services that Xerox was marketing for top-end clientele.
This frame leaves a lot of room for error to occur, and examining these points of weakness is crucial. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, at the 29th Inter-Pacific Bar Association Annual Meeting and Conference, gave a speech in which he highlighted four main points that would need reinforcement from all players across the board. The first was that how lawyers were being trained in school was crucial to them being able to handle the innovations and responsibilities that are taking place in a legal system that is steadily changing. The understanding of the roles of law and lawyers is now being redefined and expanded, to include non-lawyers, paralegals and various new career avenues that technology brings into the field, even as Artificial Intelligence and automation cut down the previously unavoidable need to hire a lawyer. This then feeds into the types of business being provided (traditional and ASLP) and that would call into question the various ethical and moral standards by which the profession is practiced. This would then determine the regularization and substantive preservation of an accurate rule of law, creating a system that could only tangibly work if all parties involved were to collectively unite their resources and comprehension of legal precedence.
The decision by the administration of the Harvard University to digitize its library with over 40 million books of case law for online free access should herald the change of seasons for the legal industry – technology is the way we will progress in this century. With easier ways to access this information and advice, many can now use the law as a means of bettering themselves and others, all while being outside of the traditional legal framework of doing business. More regularization is needed and will surely be implemented over time, but those who are led to adapt will benefit in future years.
Therefore, as in any other field, we must look forward to changes that will have to be made in terms of how our society operates. Technology will be even more useful now that we are battling the Coronavirus-19. How we adjust to this sudden change will impact future generations of legal practice.