Listen to the ABA TECHSHOW Keynote by Dr Richard Susskind: Is It the End of Lawyers?

The attendees at ABA TECHSHOW 2009 where treated to a fantastic keynote presentation by Dr Richard Susskind. He spoke about the hypothesis of his new book, The End of Lawyers?

Now the good news for all those that couldn’t attend TECHSHOW: an audio recording of Dr Susskind’s keynote is now available on the TECHSHOW site. It is most definitely worth a listen.

The title and theme of Dr. Susskind’s book – the end of lawyers – appears on first blush to be rather ominous. And while it is, most people miss is the question mark, and its implication. The title asks a question. It is not a statement. In his book Dr. Susskind asks and explores the extent to which the role of the traditional lawyer can be sustained in coming years in the face of what he sees as challenging trends in the legal marketplace, and various new techniques and technologies for the delivery of legal services. Dr. Susskind has assembled a collection of predictions and observations about a generally honourable profession that is, he argues, on the brink of fundamental transformation. He urges lawyers to ask themselves what elements of their current workload could be undertaken more quickly, more cheaply, more efficiently, or to a higher quality using different and new methods of working. He argues that the market is unlikely to tolerate expensive lawyers for tasks that can be better discharged with support of modern technology systems and techniques. The book does point to a future in which conventional legal advisers will be much less prominent in society than today. This he says will be caused by two forces: a market pull towards commoditization and by pervasive development and uptake of information technology. Commoditization and IT will fundamentally reshape twenty-first century legal service.

I am reading Dr. Susskind’s book now, and plan to comment more on it in a upcoming SLAW posts. Lawyers interested in a future in the practice of law should read this book. If my statement alone doesn’t convince you to do that, listen to Dr. Susskind’s keynote – it argues very persuasively that change is upon us.

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