As we’re about to enter 2015, the Back To The Future obsessive in me can’t help thinking that the “future” is finally about to arrive.
However, at Farrar Gesini Dunn we pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve. We may not have invented the hover-board, self-adjusting clothes or flying cars (at least not yet), but we have embraced modern and innovative practices in the way our lawyers practice the law and offer services to clients.
As you may be aware, just last month the FGD Canberra office moved into hugely exciting new premises, designed for activity-based work in the new digital and Gen-Y age. The new setup was featured in a Canberra Times/Sydney Morning Herald article which you can read here http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/farrar-gesini-dunn-lawyers-adopt-new-paperless-work-model-20141203-11u6wo.html
If there’s any doubt that law firms can’t simply stand still in the face of changes to technology and society, that most traditional of institutions – the court – has different ideas. As reported in The Age recently, Australia’s Federal Circuit Court and Family Court is committed to becoming paperless “as soon as practicable” and has announced a number of initiatives to increase e-filing with the ultimate aim one day of storing all information electronically. See further here, http://www.theage.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/australian-courts-1-million-a-year-paper-problem-20141125-11thmm.html
For me, these kind of developments were put into context back in October when I attended the National Family Law Conference in Sydney. Although most of the week was taken up by interesting seminars on the latest developments in family law itself, of all this was blown away by the presentation on the final day given by Professor Richard Susskind, a world renowned expert on the legal profession. Susskind’s thesis is that the future of legal practice depends on working differently due to 3 drivers of change which he describes as the “more for less challenge”, liberalisation and information technology. Although this blog can’t begin to do justice to Susskind’s thinking it essentially recognises that:
- Increasing economic pressures will drive the need for efficiency;
- Our changing society will result in the breakdown of barriers – and perceived hierarchy – between lawyers and their clients, transferring more power and control from the lawyer to the client;
- Information technology will create new ways of delivering legal services and eventually make old practices obsolete.
In short, lawyers and law firms that don’t recognise these drivers of change and adapt accordingly will get left behind while the creative and modern firms will thrive. Without being complacent, I think FGD are safely in the second category. The exciting thing is that there are many more changes to come in the years ahead with assistance from technologies that haven’t even yet been invented (at least outside the world of Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and De Loreans doubling as time machines). Note that the iPad, now so commonplace, is still only less than 5 years old. Does anyone have any suggestions?