Digital Saved the Legal Services Star

A few things struck me this week. First, Jordan Furlong’s great piece, “Back when we used lawyers.” Then the opening of Burberry’s new flagship store in London, England (thanks to my colleague Antony Smith at LawSync for pointing it out to me and suggesting a digital connection to law).

Jordan’s premise is, as the title suggests, that change is constant and that in the lifetime of our parents (and even some of us) how things were done and by whom, when theywere kids, has dramatically changed. What is “normal” for legal services now or in the past will not be what is “normal” for legal services in the future.

When I spoke to my law school class on Monday, I told them that as bad as the articling crisis is, they still have far more opportunities in the legal services industry then I did when I was called to the bar in 1991; that this really is the most exciting time to be entering into the legal services industry if you are creative, adaptive and innovative.

How does this tie into Burberry?

Burberry recently opened its largest store (located in central London) which is designed to mimic its website, Burberry World Live. According to The Guardian, “Remodelling …….into a bricks-and-mortar version of a website is a clear statement to the world that, for Burberry, digital now comes first……Despite a profit warning that wiped £1bn off Burberry’s market value, the company is a huge success story for British fashion. Having bounced back from job cuts in 2009 to profits of £166m in 2010, thanks in no small part to a focus on digital growth.”

In a year where law firm profits are in the low single digits and some consultants are suggesting that there are more Dewey LeBoeuf’s to come, what if digital came first for lawyers? Afterall, aren’t lawyers the haute couture of the legal services industry? If Burberry can save itself with digital, can’t lawyers do the same?

The CEO of Burberry told The Guardian, “Most of us are very digital in our daily lives now. Burberry is a young team and this is instinctive to us. To the younger generation who are coming into adulthood now, this is all they know.”

Can you imagine any managing partner saying this to a reporter?

How cool would it be if she did?

Wouldn’t that firm receive a ton of resumes from über smart and savvy young lawyers eager to join?

If Burberry’s CEO is correct – and for those of us with children, we know that it is – this presents an opportunity for lawyers to seize digital growth in the legal services industry; growth that may not only create more roles for law students but also lower overhead costs and increase profits.

Who’ll be the first mover?

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Comments

  1. I think there is perhaps a distinction to be made between ‘digital natives’ as people who expect digital in their doings, which likely is increasing, and digital natives as people who are technologically capable, which is not. Any digital based system needs to take that into account.
    Also I am not sure there is such a large pool of ‘uber smart and savvy young lawyers’- what you need are the tech people to make the systems work. Lawyers right now are no more likely to be technically proficient- something for law schools and trainers to ponder :)

  2. If digital is working for them, this begs the question: why are they going bricks and mortar? For that matter, why is Amazon.com going bricks and mortar?

  3. Pete, I’m not sure that I agree. Surely young lawyers are at least as tech savvy as the team at Burberry.

  4. Bart, depends on who the ‘team’ are :) Many students I work with would know how to *use* such a system – but set it up? Not so sure.