In the Media

Prepare for 50% fee cuts, says ?end of lawyers? professor

PUBLISHED May 14, 2012

Monday 14 May 2012 by John Hyde

Rapid change in the legal profession threatens everyone from in-house lawyers to large City firms, according to IT consultant Professor Richard Susskind. The former IT adviser to the lord chief justice told the Law Society Management Conference last week that the economic climate will force clients to seek out these advances and reduce their legal costs.

Susskind predicted bosses of both large and small companies will seek to reduce their legal spend by 50% over the next five years, as they look for ways of gaining 'more for less' through new pricing structures.

New models, such as that of Lawyers on Demand and Axiom which employ lawyers based on the incoming work, will threaten current working practices, as will innovations from major companies in other sectors. Susskind, who published the book The End of Lawyers? in 2008, also predicted that fixed fee structures will become increasingly attractive and common.

'We still need lawyers with expertise that can do difficult legal work that others can't,' he said. 'But there is written and administrative work that clients don't want to pay big fees for anymore.

'Small firms and sole practitioners will struggle if they don't embrace new technologies. Firms will have to fold and those in the middle will have to merge. [The future] is threatening only if you want to hang on - if you want to embrace new models, this is a land of opportunity.'

Susskind also called for improved multi-disciplinary training for lawyers to counter the mindset that 'we think we can take on a new discipline over a weekend.'