Let’s face it: the legal profession is not feeling the love these days. A recent Pew opinion poll ranked lawyers dead last among ten professions for ‘contributions to society.’ There’s more than a bit of self-loathing among lawyers, too. A recent study initiated by The American Bar Association (ABA) and co-funded by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that the alcoholism, depression, and drug dependency rates for lawyers are approximately twice that of other highly trained professionals. And the average six-figure educational debt young law graduates carry does not help, either. How has the ABA addressed these and other big challenges?
Lee Pacchia’s interview on Panama Papers from hearsay to insurance, liability, and ethics issues.
Most people — especially lawyers — would not imagine that a legal technology company’s focus is on customer satisfaction. After all, aren’t those companies, so the thinking goes, bent on replacing lawyers?
A recent visit to LegalZoom revealed that it is deeply committed to ensuring its technology is customer friendly. It is equally zealous about optimizing customer satisfaction for its subscription services customers. These are individuals and small businesses that, for a monthly fee, have unlimited 30minute consultations with a panel of counsel. The attorneys are independent contractors who maintain their own practices while providing consults for LegalZoom customers. These sessions often result in client engagements for which LegalZoom receives no fee.
The future of lawyers is a hot topic these days. Some suggest that technology- especially the rise of artificial intelligence (AI)- will render many obsolete. Others point to the incursion of other professional groups- notably the Big Four and consultancies- into what was once the “legal” space. There’s no end to the “evidence” marshaled to support the death of lawyers.
Prophesying lawyers’ future has become a cottage industry. It has made Richard Susskind famous; drawn institutional money and entrepreneurs into the once-static legal space; and created a ripple effect on the legal Academy.
It has been forty years since the United States Supreme Court upheld the right of lawyers to advertise in Bates v State Bar of Arizona. The rationale for this seminal case is as significant- and timely- as the ruling: lawyer advertising promotes (affordable) legal access to the general public and improves the overall administration of justice. Even in the 1970’s, the ABA acknowledged the “middle 70% of our population is not being reached or served adequately by the legal profession.”
And many lawyers were thwarting attempts to provide legal service on a more cost-effective, transparent basis.
Justice Potter Stewart’s celebrated “I know it when I see it” obscenity test also applies to law firm quality. No one can quite say what it is, but most attorneys and clients claim to know it when they see it. This is a very subjective standard in a metric driven world.
Law Firm Quality Measures: Hearsay and Brand
How can you tell a “quality” law firm? Simple answer: hearsay. And brand.