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19 December 2019

Bracing for the storm: 3 things every lawyer needs to know about disruption

Published on 19 December 2019

If you work in legal services, you’ll be familiar with this particular ‘perfect storm’. You’ll be seeing a rapid rise in new technologies. And your clients will be demanding more price certainty and transparency than ever before. When combined, these two forces are creating disruption wherever they go. Here’s what you need to know to weather the disruption storm.


1. Clients don’t want services. They want experiences.

Ten years ago, we would have said Australia was predominately a ‘service economy’ – relying on the delivery of services like hospitality, education and IT for the country’s economic growth.

But today, we have an ‘experience economy’. This means that customers want businesses to deliver memorable events. And the memory of that service in fact becomes the product.

As service providers, lawyers are not immune to this change in consumer behaviour.

Key takeaway: Legal services are in an era of change. Rather than putting your head in the sand, you and your team need to upskill so that you can drive business transformation from within. No one is going to do this for you.


2. Internal change-agents carry a heavy burden

Trying to effect change in the traditional hallowed halls of legal practices can be an uphill battle.

For some in senior management, the ‘ignore it and it will go away’ approach has worked well for a long time. But those days are coming to an end, and the future is already here.

The legal ‘intrapreneur’ is a new internal change-maker who can see this disrupted environment with clarity. They will start a (r)-evolution from within their own company to ensure it can keep up with the pace of change.

This is a complex task that requires patience and resilience – and many mistakes along the way. Yes, mistakes. But don’t dwell on that last part.

As Alison Laird, Head of Innovation and Project Delivery at Pinsent Masons in Australia, says: ‘We must get over our fear of failure if we are ever to transform our industry, our firms and law departments.’

Key takeaway: Personal development and learning new skills are vital to survival in this changing legal landscape.


3. Disruption crosses category borders

Like a bushfire, disruption doesn’t have borders or categories. It burns across everywhere without fear or favour.

Netflix suggests new shows based on your past viewing history. This is the same predictive algorithm that Amazon uses to suggest more items for you to buy. Watching a show and buying a product are very different services. Yet, this technology is already the norm across many industries.

How does this relate to legal service providers? The disruption is often not coming from within our own sector.

For example, self-driving cars will create a new area of law. It will be a legal minefield to determine responsibility for accidents – and many cross-over laws around algorithm faults are bound to occur.

Key takeaway: You will need to have both an external and internal frame of reference for industry changes. True game-changers – and opportunities – often come from outside your sector.


Are you ready for the disruption storm?

Now that you know the key factors involved in creating and maintaining trust, let us show you how to strategically put these ideas into practice.

A six-week course from The College of Law, Disrupt Or Be Disrupted - The Age of the Legal Intrapreneur and Entrepreneur will help you understand today’s legal services market. It will equip you with the skills and mindset you need to face disruption challenges – head-on.

The subject is part of the College’s newly formed Master of Legal Business, an innovative postgraduate course to help make leaders future-ready, and is led by Teaching Fellow, Alison Laird. Learn more.