By Brett Chalmers
A few years ago, George Beaton published an influential e-book, NewLaw New Rules: A Conversation About the Future of the Legal Services Industry, that pulled together comments and responses he received from numerous legal thought leaders and experts about his NewLaw-focused blog post. The publication compared BigLaw, the traditional partnership-and-hourly-rates model, with NewLaw, an emerging model of new staffing, pricing and legal service delivery firms. The concluding sentiment was that BigLaw was doomed to fail spectacularly in the near future, and the NewLaw concept would emerge from the ashes, forging a new, gilded age of legal service delivery.
The truth is, BigLaw has yet to collapse. Instead, the industry has entered a somewhat uneasy state in which BigLaw and NewLaw compete for the same work, and in some cases, even collaborate. Perhaps this is just a transition period from old to new. Maybe it will settle into a sustainable collection of diverging legal service delivery models—each catering to a different type of client, segment or industry. We may only truly understand the shifts currently underway once we can look back in hindsight. Regardless of where your firm is now—BigLaw or SmallLaw, OldLaw or NewLaw—if you are still around in 2050, it’s likely you will be practicing SmartLaw.