The Legal Profession, Today and Tomorrow

The attorneys at Ury and Moskow are very involved in the nationwide discussion about the future of the legal profession. Frederic S. Ury is a nationally recognized speaker on this topic, having delivered talks on the subject in the United States and Canada. During his term as president of the Connecticut Bar Association, Fred appointed a task force made up of attorneys, judges, and law school professors to look at this subject and to suggest a roadmap for the future study of the subject. Mr. Ury, along with Thomas Lyons, the president of the Rhode Island Bar Association, has talked to a number of state and national bar associations about this subject.

Some of the topics which we are exploring and have discussed in various talks on our Blog are:

1. The effect outsourcing is going to have on the profession. It is estimated that outsourcing to India will result in a reduction of 10% of the legal jobs in the United States, or between 40,000 and 100,000 positions over the next five years.

2. How do the present rules of professional conduct square with a global economy which requires attorneys to practice in a flat, global world with no artificial boarders?

3. How are we going to be able to charge clients for documents and provide answers to legal questions that they can get on the internet for free?

4. The effect of becoming a profession of value added services.

5. The commoditized part of the practice is going to eventually disappear as part of the everyday practice because it will be available at little or no cost on the Internet. Web sites such as legalzoom.com and completcase.com are going to provide significant competition for this part of the practice.

6. The phenomenon of the vanishing jury trial is occurring not only in federal courts, but also in state courts as well as more litigants resort to alternative dispute resolution and other available dispute resolution systems such as cybersettle.com.

7. The number of people representing themselves pro se is rising, especially in divorce cases. In Connecticut, over 50% of divorces involve at least one pro se party. In Florida, the number is closer to 70%.

8. The pressure on large law firms to change how they bill and staff cases is only going to increase as web sites such as elawforum.com force large law firms to bid for work which they would automatically get historically.

9. The retirement of the baby boom generation is going to change how the profession looks and may, in some states, leave a shortage of attorneys. This shortage of attorneys may be met with outsourcing and technology innovations.

There are no right answers to any of the questions or clear responses to the statements listed above. But we as a profession must continue this discussion. We are part of this great democracy. We are a nation that lives by the rule of law. We, as lawyers, need to be a healthy, independent, and vibrant profession to be effective. This is the future of the legal profession.