The Biggest Problem

In The Legal Industry

What is the Legal Industry’s Biggest Problem?

1024 739 Raymond Blijd

Read time: 2 min.

On September 29th I shared an image from Premonition on Win-Loss rates of Dutch Lawyers, Here’s what happened next.

A series of tweets and questions which helped frame the debate in my mind and led me to a discovery: the biggest challenge facing the legal industry.

Transparency & Commodity

Metrics on win and loss for lawyers have always existed, they were just kept in-house. Actually, the practice of ranking lawyers may have started as early as 1868 when James B. Martindale first published a directory of lawyers and law firms and rated each. This practice has endured and is long overdue for an upgrade.

Besides, transparency allows consumers freedom to compare and comparisons lead to more consumption. So even if more legal services are commoditized, increase demand may still balance it out. Ultimately becoming more open and cheaper shouldn’t be a problem.

Quality & Complexity

Cheap legal products can never be the high-quality complex stuff, right? Well, here’s the thing about the complexity of legal matter: it is a subjective measure. Like all things in this world, what is complex for one person, isn’t for the next. Moreover, since legal matters are mostly solved behind a curtain of confidentiality, no one will be able to validate it. Even when circumstances are truly unique, the laws that may apply could be decades old. The simple fact that we use very static means to fix very advanced fluid problems is a human limitation. No wonder we find these complex. Computers driven by Moore’s Law do not have this limitation. And the same goes for quality.

Nonetheless, if we really want to be good at comparing value, then quality and complexity should be measurable. Some platforms are already moving towards becoming the standard of measure for legal endproducts.

The Biggest Problem

The legal industry is stuck selling hay to horsemen, while failing to envision the future of fueling transportation. Most industries with business models predating the internet face this dilemma. Just as car companies are acknowledging they should build solar powered robots instead of fossil fueled suicide combustibles. Legal professionals will need to accept they’ll have to abandon the prestigious and once profitable occupation of billing for complexities and settle for a noble occupation of coding a fair society. If self-driving talent is worth $10 million per person, legal engineers will be worth twice as much once we realise these robots lack empathy. They run on racially biased algorithms that will charge you extra to flee a terrorist attack.

The Best Solution

Face reality, our society needs rules and these should not be purely based on physics and math. Fact is that robots are inevitable and we should figure out the best way to leverage their strengths and fix their weaknesses. Fight for a world where the pen is still mightier than the sword.  But that the pen is the algorithm in our watch hailing a ride at a regular price when it senses our distress.