Monday, February 2, 2015
News Flash, Lemmings: Technological Advances Lead to Less Need for Lawyers
Rise of the Machines: On January 25, 2014, Greenwich Time published a Maggie Gordon article entitled “Trending: Where the lawyers live.” Take a look at this opening:
“Lower Fairfield County has long been a haven for lawyers, with the town of Greenwich employing about three times as many legal professionals per capita as the national average. But the changing nature of the field in an increasingly digital world is disturbing that landscape.
Suddenly, in about 2008, 2009 and 2010, the market began contracting because fewer people were interested in the traditional attorney-client relationship model," said Mark Dubois, president of the Connecticut Bar Association.
"Many people thought they could do what they needed to do online, whether it was refinancing their house or with other legal documents. They'll ask them to be emailed to them to sign and then they'll email them back instead of billing all those hours," Dubois said. "So the profession has and is changing." [Emphasis mine]
Imagine that, people! Who would have thought that legal clients would use software and an Internet connection to save money?! If this is happening in small town America, then you can bet your ass that the effect on lawyers in big cities is that much greater – especially when you take doc review into account. A few paragraphs later, the piece continued:
“[Y]oung lawyers are having a hard time finding jobs in a sector of the economy that has been tightening. Back in 2011, the American Bar Association reported 9.2 percent of law school grads were still unemployed nine months after graduation. The following year that figure was up to 10.6 percent, and in 2013 it increased again to 11.2 percent.
"My practice has changed dramatically over the past five or 10 years, primarily because of the technological advances," said Greenwich resident Glen Canner, who practices law in Stamford. "I'm able to do so much myself now. I read about the challenges new lawyers have finding employment and I compare that to my situation, where these advancements allow me to do a lot of the work myself."
LegalZoom trumps juniors
When Canner began his career 35 years ago, young lawyers were needed to review cases, do research and tackle some straightforward cases. But with the efficiencies he's been able to create with document readers and increasingly digital records, that kind of manpower isn't needed anymore.
"That's good for me," he said. "But for these young lawyers, how do they break into the field? I feel their pain, because they need to get experience to build their careers, but there's just not as much of a need anymore." [Emphasis mine]
Many attorneys are now relying on piecemeal work for the bulk of their business. If you don’t know what that means, then you simply shouldn’t be accepted into a “professional degree” program. Now scroll down to this conclusion:
“[I]n the law field, this is translating to a smaller number of young lawyers. The Connecticut Bar Association tracks the number of lawyers across all age ranges, and while there were 6,154 lawyers in their 30s at last count and 9,211 lawyers in their 40s, there were only 1,290 lawyers in their 20s.
"There's one way that you can view the story," Dubois said. "What had been a robust market, where you could spend three years going to school and then enjoy a lifetime of reasonable earnings in a recession-proof profession has now been rendered asunder in the new market economics of the 21st century with the advent of technology and the change in how people define legal services or the delivery of legal services." [Emphasis mine]
Other Coverage: On January 25, 2015, “Digitalserf” started a JD Junkyard thread, which was labeled “CT Young lawyers replaced by technology.” Check out this insightful comment from "JohnDoeee," posted on January 26, 2015 at 1:11 am:
"...began his career 35 years ago..."
Nando has been addressing the effects of technology on legal employment for quite some time now on Third Tier Reality.
In fact, his latest entry comments on commercials for Legal Zoom.
Technology is a problem but it's not even the main problem. Tuition has far outstripped inflation for many years now. Law is similar to a Ponzi scheme in that people who started 35 years ago, the early investors, did in fact get some return on their investment which was cheaper at that time. As more and more people received JD's, the value of the degree, the investment, was diluted. Year after year. And each year, the investment costs more for less likely and less[e]r returns.
Law is all but dead for the Winners in the New Guilded Age we live in. In short, the PPC: The Preferred, Protected, and Connected.” [Emphasis mine]
This poster is correct. Those who got in earlier definitely benefited greatly. They essentially paid a small admission fee into the “profession” and competed with fewer attorneys for a large, ignorant potential client base.
Conclusion: In the final analysis, lawyers were once able to access guarded information that was not readily available to clients and the general public. Now, anyone with an Internet connection and a brain stem can view statutes, case law, property records, etc. With the advent of companies such as LegalZoom, those in need of legal services can save tons of money. People can now draft their own wills and file for divorce without the need for some schmuck to bill them a few thousand dollars.
By the way, the general public now realizes that attorneys have been robbing them blind. Why should they pay a lawyer $3,000 for easy draftings anf filings? For the common man and woman, this is good news. However, since law school tuition has reached outrageous levels, those seeking to enter the supposed “profession” are the ones taking it on the nose and chin. Don’t worry, “law professor” pigs. Many of you will soon have the chance to practice law and scrape by for a living, too.
Posted by Nando at 4:48 AM