The Ugly Side of Legal Blogs

It is astonishing to me that there are practising lawyers who take time away from helping clients to write (often foul-mouthed) blogs and comments attacking those who advocate different ways to deliver legal services. In the minds of these attackers, we have “666” tattooed to the backs of our heads.

The old saying, “Is this the hill I want to die on?” comes to mind for those with boundless energy to expend trash-talking people who think differently.

It’s as if the attackers don’t follow what’s happening in the world around them (which is also exceptionally poor risk management):

Megan Seto has written an impressive award-winning essay outlining that depression is much more common in the legal profession than in the general public, suggestive that the way law is practised puts lawyers at higher risk for depression. So, my takeaway from her essay is that it might be a really good idea to re-think how law is practised.

Countless General Counsel have complained about the inefficiency of the legal services delivery model including the General Counsel of Kia who went so far as to test his law firms and found them inept at the use of simple Excel spread sheets.

The procurement departments of large corporations are now involved with selecting lawyers based not on relationship or quality – quality just gets you in the door, its a given and expected – but on process, technology, management information and value-add.

Thomson Reuters owns a large LPO which is making millions of dollars doing work that used to be done by law firms.

The average Canadian cannot afford legal services and so does not have access to justice.

The United Kingdom and Australia have allowed outside investment into firms which in turn allows those firms to deliver services in a more efficient and cost-effective manner for the good of clients.

Technology has been proven to be better at document review and better at aggregating court decisions, than lawyers; it also allows lawyers to work remotely and to do more client work in less time.

Yet, despite the growing mountain of evidence clearly showing that lawyers need to re-invent how they deliver legal services, any lawyer or writer who suggests that legal services can be delivered in ways that are better for both the client and for the lawyer is called a huckster, or seller of snake oil, or young, or never practised, or can’t practise or other names bullies typically use when they have no substance behind their arguments.

The attackers claim that the only way to practice law is in the good old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeves, labour-intensive way.

The only good lawyer is a hard-working lawyer.

One who doesn’t use new processes or invest in any of that new-fangled technology. (Note: I’m sure the lawyers who failed the Kia tests were also hard-working, yet they’re now looking for a new client to replace Kia. And who wants to do work for Kia anyway if they insist on lawyers being more efficient and better with technology. See, the hucksters have now gotten to General Counsel, the world is ending…..)

The only ethical way, the attackers cry, is the old way.

Everything new is dangerous and fraught with innumerable ethical issues that the hucksters never mention (Note: See, they’re up to no good!); these unspecified ethical issues are so complex the attackers claim, that they can’t be solved by even the most clever lawyer – so do not consider for even a millisecond, a new way of doing things lest ye be tempted and lead astray.

Better to resist all change, the attackers beseech the profession – close your eyes, stick your heads deeply into the sand and just work really really really hard – the world will surely be alright.


  1. Many of us have been practising successfully with non-traditional billing arrangements for years. My own experience is more satisfied clients, much lower receivables, better results for clients. Traditional hourly billing puts our own business interests at odds with those of our clients. Technology has made it so working smart is more effective for the client and less stressful for the lawyer than working hard. The times they are a changin’ and the legal services market needs to change with the times. Mitch Kowalski is merely sounding the warning bell to the profession and those who insist on belittling his ideas rather than taking heed will ultimately suffer.

  2. Thank you for this Mitch. It badly needed to be said.

    Part of the irony is that this vanguard of everything old prefers to convey their messages through new technology. I’ve concluded they do so only because it’s they only way they can garner an audience larger than 1.

    You can add some loneliness to that depression, I suspect.

  3. Lawyers are as guilty as anyone else of trade ‘unions’ and afraid of losing their revenues. In the end hustling for money in any human endeavor results in the blood guts and glory scenario ( might is right )