Am Law Daily Interviews Susskind

The American Law Daily has published an interview with legal industry guru — Richard Susskind

The interview by Paul Lippe starts….


Welcome to the Future: An Interview With The Futurist

Based in the UK, Richard Susskind is the world’s pre-eminent legal futurist. His new book, The End of Lawyers? (Oxford University Press, Dec. 2008) is extraordinarily timely, as many factors are coming together to accelerate change in law.
I met Susskind recently in Wales for a conversation about the future of law. In Part 1 of the interview here, Susskind explains how change is likely to come to a change-resistant profession.

One of your earlier books, The Future of Law, was about a 20-year transformation of legal services, propelled in part by technology. How did lawyers react to that book and how did that affect your approach to The End of Lawyers?

The End of Lawyers? is a sequel to The Future of Law. The reaction was surprising and remarkable. In the UK, it created quite a stir–some seemed to like it a lot while others detested it. I was predicting, for example, that e-mail would come to dominate the way lawyers and clients would communicate and that the Web would become the first port of call for lawyers when undertaking research. Some senior lawyers called for me not to be allowed to speak in public. In any event, it created debate, it challenged the status quo, and widened some people’s horizons. Above all, it taught me to be brave in my predictions and not to shy away from controversy.

The title of the new book Is a pretty extreme hypothesis.  Do you really foresee a world with no lawyers?

As I say in the first chapter, the question mark in the title should at least hint that I wrote it not to bury lawyers but to investigate their future. My aim was to explore the extent to which the role of the traditional lawyer could be sustained in coming years in the face of challenging trends in the legal marketplace and new techniques for the delivery of legal services. The book is neither a lawyer-bashing polemic nor a gratuitous assault on the legal profession but a collection of predictions and observations about a generally honorable profession that is, I argue, on the brink of fundamental transformation. The book points to a future in which conventional legal advisers will be much less prominent in society than today and, in some walks of life, will indeed have no visibility at all. This, I believe, is where we will be taken by two forces: by a market pull towards commoditization and by pervasive development and uptake of information technology. At the same time, I identify a whole new set of jobs for lawyers who are prepared to spread their wings.



Read the full interview here