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Tomorrow's Lawyers

An Introduction to Your Future

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Tomorrow's Lawyers by Richard Susskind
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Tomorrow's Lawyers predicts that we are at the beginning of a period of fundamental transformation in law: a time in which we will see greater change than we have seen in the past two centuries. Where the future of the legal service will be a world of internet-based global businesses, online document production, commoditized service, legal process outsourcing, and web based simulation practice. Legal markets will be liberalized, with new jobs for lawyersand new employers too. This book is a definitive guide to this future - for young and aspiring lawyers, and for all who want to modernize our legal and justice systems. It introduces the new legal landscape and offers practical guidance for those who intend to build careers and businesses in law.Tomorrow's Lawyers is divided into three parts. The first is an updated restatement of Richard Susskind's views on the future of legal services, as laid out in his previous bestselling works, The Future of Law , Transforming the Law, and The End of Lawyers? . He identifies key drivers of change, such as the economic downturn, and considers how these will impact on the legal marketplace. In the second part, Susskind sketches out the new legal landscape ashe predicts it, including the changing role of law firms, and in-house lawyers, with virtual hearings and online dispute resolution. The third part focuses on the prospects for aspiring lawyers, predicting what new jobs and new employers there will be, and equipping prospective lawyers with penetrating questions to put to theircurrent and future employers.This new edition has been fully updated to include an introduction to online dispute resolution, Susskind's views on the debates surrounding artificial intelligence and its role in the legal world, a new analysis of new jobs available for lawyers, and a retrospective evaluation of The Future of Law , Susskind's prediction published in 1996 about the future of legal services.This is the essential introduction to the future of law for those who want to succeed in the rapidly changing legal landscape.
OUP Oxford; April 2017
240 pages; ISBN 9780192516718
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Title: Tomorrow's Lawyers
Author: Richard Susskind
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An appreciation by Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE of “The Barrister”

Crystal balls have often been used as a spurious way to predict or explain things we know little about. And so it is here, with Professor Richard Susskind’s brave and excellent new edition of the international best seller “Tomorrow’s Lawyers” from OUP, which he ominously sub-titles “an introduction to your future”.

Some will say, “what future” although we feel Susskind does a rare balancing act between the realities of the future and what we will probably face in the next decade with this revised edition since the original appeared in 2013.

“Tomorrow’s Lawyers” is about prediction in a very changeable legal world at this crossroad as the pace accelerates. It is only four years since the first, out of date, edition appeared and much has happened since then. The real obstacle remains that the legal profession is quite “conservative” with a small “c” and does not like change. A great example is the continued reliance on the fax and the cheque book when most businesses have already moved on from them and embraced new technology.

If anything, Susskind may find that his vision of the future is also somewhat “conservative” with a small “c”. We do not want to spoil this book for the reader so we do not intend to set out in detail his views - all members of the legal profession and those thinking of joining should read this book very carefully because the subject-matter will not be going away for any of us.

We found the three parts most helpful where Susskind looks, firstly, at “radical changes in the legal market” (his “three drivers” revisited), “the new landscape” and finally (most importantly) “prospects for young lawyers”. The final chapter 18 concludes with the most devastating issue of all- “artificial intelligence (AI) and the long term”- almost certain to be the subject of detailed future research.

The word “devastating” is used with care following the effects of Brexit on every piece of UK business. What could be a sharper pace for the development of AI with the massive consequent job losses which look inevitable. And what remains shocking is the maintenance, by many lawyers, of restrictive practices based on a redundant understanding of how we conduct future legal business.

Susskind writes that “in the long run, the changes that I anticipate for lawyers and the administration of justice will be pervasive, irreversible and transformational.” He adds, “I am not suggesting that this means the legal sector will be turned on its head over the next 3 to 6 months”. “But”, he says, “I am confident we will see many fundamental shifts as we move into the 2020s”.

We keep the best bit for last when Susskind refers to 2036, which will be mid-career for young lawyers now (2017), “it is neither hyperbolic nor fanciful to expect that the legal profession will have changed beyond recognition.” You have been warned!

And on “online courts”, Susskind – a regular speaker at our Bar Conferences including the 2017 event – “I remain resolutely of the view that online courts will bring 2 great benefits – greater access to justice… and substantial cost savings, both for individual litigants as well as for the court system”. Yes, quite so.

“In a decade, we will look back and wonder why we didn’t introduce them sooner”, he says. Tell the Bar Council/Law Society that one and get them to read “Tomorrow’s Lawyers” … and Susskind’s follow up editions as this is work in progress against much Luddite opposition so watch this space.

The publication date for the second edition is 2017.
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