I didn’t attend this year, but I did follow along on Twitter and try to see what everyone was talking about at this years conference. I noticed a lot of talk about AI, and technological change, but this is also something that needs to be discussed, law firms increasing separating the practice of law as work, and everything else as simple support stuff, including technology.
This confirms what I see more and more: Lawyers from small firms are willing to look under the hood, to get engaged with technology and to look for ways to innovate and disrupt. Big firms rely on “staff” and often do little to engage in understanding the changes driving the profession. At its core, many big firm lawyers, who in many ways should be leading the profession, don’t find technology and legal change and disruption all that important. At the end of the day, this is the real and fundamental problem.
The thought that kept coming up to me over and over as I “listened” in to the tweets and posts from ILTA was this idea that big firms are run by senior partners. They’ve been successful for years doing what they do, and the AI revolution, when it truly takes over and changes the way lawyers need to do business, will probably occur after these folks are gone. Heck, I’m 49 and I think there’s a good chance I could work the rest of my days at law firms and only have to skirt any AI issues before I’m gone. They have no true incentive to change. But if you’re in a big firm and you’re 28-35 years old? Good luck. Chances are the way the firm does business now, and the advantages that come from the scale of larger firms, will be long gone by the time you’re looking at retirement. You might want to start looking under the hood and figuring out how to leverage technology instead of letting “staff” run the technology. Because eventually, he who runs the technology will, in effect, run the firm.