I tackled this subject last summer in a major article, perhaps 1500 words. It is an important subject, but I took on too much.

I tried to;

  1. Establish my credentials;
  2. Summarize my trip to the TBD Conference in Saint Louis;
  3. To report to my WV State Bar Board of Governors’ “Future of the Law” Committee, and:
  4. To discuss tips and techniques to improve law office efficiency.

Here is that article should you have the stomach for it: https://hunterlawfirm.net/future-of-the-law-2016/.

So, let’s get to the point. Recently I listened to a panel on the Joshua Johnson (replacement of Diane Rehm) radio show. It credibly reported that Ubur drivers are no more secure than video store owners were. With the owner/drivers being nearly 70% of Uber’s business expense, and renting themselves and their cars, soon Uber and its industry will own a huge fleet of self-driving cars. Even if they are twice the cost of current cars, Uber can save 1/3!

One of the speakers suggested that lawyers are on the same track as Uber drivers, and I might add, coal miners, buggy whip manufacturers, and checkout clerks.

I also heard Judge Neil Gorsuch, in his testimony before Congress, on the failings of the legal industry to provide access to justice for millions. He criticized our profession for resisting change and innovations such as Legal Zoom and AVVO and suing to keep them out of our states. I might add, resistance to using paralegals much as the legal profession uses PA’s and Nurse Practitioners.

He explained that our profession “is not well” and that it has a high level of suicide and alcohol and drug abuse. I have been talking about that a lot in my blog, which I hope is oriented towards the future. I have not had much impact.

Courageous leadership in the ABA has been leading a study on the means of expanding and reducing the costs of legal services. They are supporting “disruption innovation”, new ways of thinking and approaching problems. I concur.

I have been trying to repackage some services, unbundling and ghostwriting for people who just cannot find $3000-$10,000 to hire a family law lawyer. https://hunterlawfirm.net/when-you-cant-or-wont-hire-a-lawyer-a-possible-option/

I have written a proposal to streamline mediation in WV, https://hunterlawfirm.net/time-revise-mediation-wv/, and how self-represented people could use well qualified mediators to protect their children and interests, https://hunterlawfirm.net/self-represented-mediation/

Some things appear not to be on our radar. Our WV legislature, as I write this, is well on the way to decimating consumer protection law in WV and taking away incentive of lawyers to be able to represent these aggrieved people.

Forced arbitration, which could be a solution, is a sham, designed by big business to keep consumers from suing them, and they are succeeding.

With contingent fee cases, personal injury, industrial injury, medical malpractice, and insurance bad faith, the lawyers are motivated because there are prospects of good pay days if the lawyer will delay receiving payment and accept a percentage of the final settlement or judgment.

Of course, conservatives are working to limit the percentage the contingent fee lawyer can charge.

Getting to the point ain’t easy, so I will close with this summary.

We aren’t in a “period of change”; we are in a “period of ACCELERATING CHANGE”!

Lawyers, like all children in school right now, need to plan on lifelong learning. Much of it will on line. Sadly, it is likely there will be fewer ivy covered campuses.

We must learn broadly, deeply, and then specifically. Specialists will find many dead ends. Few people, even lawyers, will have a 40 year career with one, or two, or a few, employers.

On my better days, I love being a lawyer, solving myriad problems, and putting my client’s life back on track. I feel my judgment, empathy, and experience are essential components to proper representation. Some of that will be replaced by technology, big data, artificial intelligent, and The Internet.

But I think that my colleagues and I, and those who regulate us, need to embrace and chase change, with the standard, first, to be how to do the job better and cheaper, while allowing those of us willing to work at it a path to making an honorable living and decent future.

Word count? 719 🙁

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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