The legal industry is known for adherence to precedent, not innovation. While precedent remains a guiding principle in the practice of law, innovation is transforming the models, methods, and players involved in the buy/sell process of legal services. Technology, process, access to institutional capital, re-reregulation, client demand for enhanced value, and changes in other professional service industry delivery models—notably medicine and accounting– are legal innovation’s principal drivers.
Disruption, as defined by Clayton Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma, refers to the process by which an industry dominated by high cost and complex products or services is transformed by innovation marked by certain key elements: simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability. Technology, of course, has been the principal catalyst for disruption, providing a global channel of communication between providers and consumers — a global marketplace.
With consumers (clients) at the retail and corporate segments of the legal marketplace vocalizing their dissatisfaction with the legal status quo in high-pitched crescendo, the legal vertical would seem ripe for disruption.
So why has it not occurred, what’s preventing it, and what form might it take?
A Quick Story Underscoring The Prevalence of Disruption
Seeking a break from what was fast becoming a summer grind, my wife and I recently decided to retreat from DC and spend a long weekend in California.
“I’ll look at travel sights for flights,” I said.
My wife quickly replied, “I have already checked out Airbnb and have a cute place you’ll like — I’m looking at Yelp now for some new places to eat.”
I don’t even have to tell you that we took Uber to the airport, do I? [Read more…]