I have written previously about how consumers are the first of the four major disruptors I see occurring within the legal industry. Technology is the second.
I want to explain a concept created by Richard Susskind who is a legal futurist. He created a flowchart depicting the evolution of legal services to explain how he expects the future of law to develop. We started out with bespoke services where everything was handcrafted and original every time. Then as people got smarter, there were more tools and ways to work began to become standardized. In early times, standardization might have included re-using clauses in similar contracts or creating a checklist of certain things to do in a systematic order.
Then we moved to systematization, which increased automated document assembly. Prior to that, it would just have been a document on a word processor. Susskind says that after we get through that process we get into the packaged stage where the information has become standardized and systematized, so it now can be packaged. Coupled with the Internet, we can distribute it easily to customers and consumers all over the world. LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer and others are already doing that and quite successfully. After we become so efficient that we can package it and send it around the world easily, we can commoditize it, which makes it more affordable.
Technology, as it has disrupted everything else in the world and will continue to do so throughout our lifetime is, has and will continue to disrupt legal services and the practice of law.
This post relates to a video, The Future of Law (is here): Technology, available here.