In Tomorrow’s Lawyers, leading scholar Richard Susskind envisions the future of legal practice. He argues that with the introduction of new technologies there will be a dramatic change in the jobs that lawyers hold. In particular, he predicts a sharp decrease in the number of traditional legal practitioners, along with the emergence of new jobs for lawyers.
Susskind names eight new types of jobs. They are:
1) the legal knowledge engineer
2) the legal technologist
3) the legal hybrid
4) the legal process analyst
5) the legal project manager
6) the ODR practitioner
7) the legal management consultant
8) the legal risk manager
The legal knowledge engineer will “organize and model huge quantities of complex legal materials and processes” into computer systems. These systems will be able to solve specific legal problems.
The legal technologist will build the “channels through which non-lawyers access the law” along with the foundation of legal services.
The legal hybrid will be a lawyer versed in another discipline, who provides hybrid advice. For example, the commercial lawyer who also acts as a strategy consultant, the corporate lawyer who also acts as a deal broker, or the family lawyer who also acts as a therapist.
The legal process analyst will breakdown a piece of legal work into different tasks and will delegate those tasks to the appropriate service provider.
The legal project manager will oversee the delegation of the work to the appropriate providers. They will ensure that the jobs are completed properly and on time, ending with them “pull[ing] the various work projects into one seamless service for the client”.
The ODR practitioner will “advise clients on how to best use online dispute resolution facilities and will be experts in resolving disputes conducted in electronic environments.”
The legal management consultant will provide strategy consulting on issues like long-term planning, legal needs assessment, and organizational structure.
The legal risk manager will help companies avoid legal problems in the first place. “Their focus will be on anticipating the needs of those they advise, on containing and pre-empting legal problems… potential pitfalls and threats to the business.” They will conduct activities like compliance audits, litigation readiness assessments, and analysis of contractual commitments.
With the emergence of new jobs, how should law schools be training new lawyers? Should law schools focus more on the emergent job market? I would answer yes but with a caveat. The most critical part of law school is training people on how to think like a lawyer and how to think critically. These skills are important for any legal job.
(Views are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization.)