Monday, 12 May 2014

Richard Susskind serves up tough love to Irish lawyers

Richard Susskind believes that lawyers and law firms need to ask themselves a basic question: what are lawyers for? he them said:

"Most lawyers, when they think about the future, tend to think, ‘what do we do today’ – one-to-one consultative advisory service, usually on an hourly billing basis – and ‘how can we make it a bit quicker, cheaper, better’. Not often enough are lawyers taking a step back and asking the question: what fundamental value is it that we bring to those we advise? Why is it that clients pay handsomely for our service?"

Susskind said that of the Legal Services Act 2007 which introduced alternative business structures and meant non-lawyers could share profits with lawyers in legal businesses:

"What it actually means in practice is that we have an entrepreneurial spirit in the legal world that we have never had before. You’ve got banks, building societies and insurance companies coming into the legal marketplace alongside publishers and accountants. You have got external funding, which is bringing new ideas, new ways of delivering services– far cheaper for citizens."

In Ireland alternative business structures were the most contentious part of the proposed Legal Services Regulation Bill. The Bar Council, which represents barristers, strenuously opposed the idea, arguing it would hinder access to justice and have no cost benefit to clients.Richard  Susskind criticised the American Bar Association for arguing that such liberalisation would prejudice access to justice. Saying: 

"In fact it’s exactly the reverse. In almost all jurisdictions that are liberalising, it’s enabling access."

Suds kind concluded by saying:

"We have to open our minds to working in entirely new ways."

In Irish Times in full here:

David Leonhardt of the recently created UpShot on the  New York Times said on the Charlie Rose Show:

"If you have been running a business for 50 years, 100 years, 150 years, and you’ve been successful and then someone says, let’s do things differently and it’s going to cannibalise our business, of course the initial instinct is no."

Richard Susskind appeared at the 2013 Northern Ireland bar council conference. I covered the event here:

And here:

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