COVID-19 AND THE NIGERIAN JUSTICE SYSTEM: CHALLENGES THE BENCH AND BAR SHOULD EXPECT AFTER THE PANDEMIC AND THE WAY FORWARDAugust 14, 2020
The Winning Strategy For Law Firms On The Future Of Client Service And Exceptional Client ExperienceAugust 18, 2020
The legal market is in an extraordinary state of flux. The way in which lawyers work has instantly changed. Radical ways of delivering legal services have emerged, new players have emerged in the market, and the workings of our courts will be and has been transformed.
On the other hand, a whole new paradigm shift of fresh opportunities for creative young minds have burst on the scene.
Today, the cabal of the legal world have sought for solutions by extrapolating from the past and on the assumption of continuity in the legal profession. In contrast, this isn’t the case.
Richard Eric Susskind, British author, speaker, and independent adviser to international professional firms and national governments has emphasized that the future of legal service is not in its wigs or woodpanelled courtrooms, leather-bound tomes, or arcane legal jargon. It will not even be the now dominant model of lawyering, which is face-to-face, consultative professional service by advisers who meet clients in their offices, whether glitzy or dusty, and dispense tailored counsel.
Just as other professions are undergoing massive upheaval, then the same must now happen in law. Indeed, it is already happening and will continue to happen. The bespoke specialist who handcrafts solutions for clients will be challenged by new working methods, characterized by lower labour costs, mass customization, recyclable legal knowledge, pervasive use of advanced technology, and more.
Susskind identified three (3) main drivers of this change: the ‘more-for-less’ challenge, liberalization, and information technology. Needless to say, there are other factors, such as a shifting demography and increasing globalization.
The ‘More-for-Less’ Challenge
Clients of lawyers come in many different forms. There are in-house lawyers, who work within large organizations and who spend mightily on legal advice when they have major disputes to resolve or large deals to conclude. There are managers within small or medium-sized businesses, who have properties to rent, employees to engage, and all manner of regulations with which to comply. And there are individual citizens, who may need legal help with such matters as moving house, coping with debt, or pursuing some personal injury claim. Although diverse in nature, these clients currently share a big challenge-generally, they cannot afford legal services when delivered in the traditional way.
Susskind calls this problem the ‘more-for-less’ challenge—how can clients, working with their external law firms, deliver more legal services at less cost?
The more-for-less challenge is not just a conundrum for in-house lawyers. Small businesses face a similar dilemma. These traders do not have their own specialist in-house lawyers, and whenever they are in need of serious legal help, they must currently turn to external law firms. In these demanding times, however, many business people confess that they cannot afford lawyers and often have to run the risk of working without legal guidance. As for the consumer, although the law is central to all of our lives, dramatic decreases in public legal aid mean, effectively, that only the very rich or the very poor any longer have the means to afford the services of lawyers. Citizens face the more-for-less challenge too.
The more-for-less challenge will underpin the next decade of legal service. The more-for-less challenge will, expectedly, irreversibly change the way that lawyers work.
The second main driver of change is liberalization. A little background should help here. In most countries, historically and generally speaking, only qualified lawyers have been permitted to provide legal services to clients, and, even then, only from specific types of organization (typically from partnerships). Laws and regulations have stipulated who can be a lawyer, who can run and own a legal business, and what services they can provide. Different countries have drawn lines in different places.
Demographics influence the supply of labor. Typically, as mortality rates decline and people live longer, the supply of labor increases.
Half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to come from just nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States of America (in descending order of increase). The population of sub-Saharan Africa is likely to double, while the population of Europe is likely to shrink. During this period, the global population is projected to become more and more urban, while children below age 5 will be outnumbered by persons aged 65 or above.
The shifts in population and economic growth will be accentuated by talent migration as successful economies draw people from weaker counterparts.
By 2025 there are going to be one billion more people on the planet, 300 million of which will be people aged over 65. However, there will be significant regional and country differences. Around, 50% of the world’s population growth between now and 2050 is expected to come from Africa.
An ageing workforce, ageing customers, the shift in economic power and the rise of the Millennial generation (Generation Z) will have profound implications and opportunities for your business.
Your business will need to anticipate demographic developments and bring products and services into line with the changing customer base in the markets you serve.
As people live longer and state support declines, the competitive frontline is likely to shift from lending towards helping people to fund and manage their retirements. Reputation and trust will be crucial in sustaining market share in an increasingly empowered and knowledgeable retirement market.
According to WHO, globalization can be defined as, “the increased interconnectedness and interdependence of peoples and countries. It is generally understood to include two inter-related elements: the opening of international borders to increasingly fast flows of goods, services, finance, people and ideas; and the changes in institutions and policies at national and international levels that facilitate or promote such flows.”
The ability of countries to rise above narrow self-interest has brought unprecedented economic wealth and plenty of applicable scientific progress. However, for different reasons, not everyone has been benefiting the same from globalization and technological change: wealth is unfairly distributed and economic growth came at huge environmental costs. How can countries rise above narrow self-interest and act together or designing fairer societies and a healthier planet? How do we make globalization more just?
Becoming Radical, is necessary to say the least. COVID – 19 has made swimming with the sharks more real than ever before. Under-promising and over delivering, has become the buzzword. Radical steps, mindset and approach is the way to go in a more competitive society. Teleworking, smart working has come to stay. The ball is in your court. Stay radical, stay competitive.
Susskind, R.E., The Future of Law
Susskind, R.E., Transforming the Law
Susskind, R.E., The End of Lawyers?
Staudt, R.W. and Lauritsen, M. (eds.), ‘Justice, Lawyering and Legal Education in the Digital Age’ (2013)