Summer Reading List: Tomorrow’s Lawyers

Tomorrow's LawyersLooking for some summer reading? Tomorrow’s Lawyers is short enough to read in a few hours as you lounge in a hammock, but has enough heft to keep you thinking for much longer.

Who Should Read This Book?

If you’re considering applying to law school, you’re starting soon, you’re currently in law school, or you’ve already graduated, Tomorrow’s Lawyers is a must-read.

So, pretty much, it’s a must-read for anyone who’s in the legal profession currently, or who’s thinking about joining.

Why? Because Richard Susskind has written a short, readable introduction to the many challenges and opportunities the profession will face in the next 30 years (aka, the length of your legal career). Ignore him at your peril.

What’s the Book About?

The rather ominous subtitle sets the stage: An Introduction to Your Future.

Susskind identifies three “drivers of change” that he argues will drastically alter the legal profession in the coming years:

  1. The “more-for-less” challenge
  2. Liberalization
  3. Information Technology

Susskind lives and works in the U.K., and for the moment factor two is more relevant there than in the U.S., where the ABA has so far declined to support anything akin to the Legal Services Act 2007, which opened up the U.K. legal market to non-attorney ownership of law firm-like entities.

But the book makes some interesting arguments in this regard:

  1. How long until U.S. law firms find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, unable to raise capital to compete with well-funded legal entities elsewhere?
  2. And, similarly, how long before GCs in global businesses start to wonder why outside counsel in more traditional locales can’t provide the service innovations possible in more liberalized jurisdictions?

If I ran a law firm, these questions would keep me up at night.

How To Do More with Less?

Regardless of jurisdiction, it’s hard to argue with his other two points.

  1. More-for-less: Post-Great Recession, even high-end clients are exerting price pressure on the large law firms who once charged pretty much whatever they wanted. At the low end, most individuals and small businesses can’t afford the legal help they need, and are going DIY or doing without. Everyone wants better results, for less money.
  2. Information Technology: Rather quaintly, many lawyers still believe that legal practice will be largely unimpacted by developments in information technology, despite the inexorable march of Moore’s Law. After reading Chapters 4 and 5 in Tomorrow’s Lawyers, explaining how legal work can be deconstructed into its constituent parts and attacked in chunks using different technological approaches, this viewpoint seems highly suspect. As Susskind argues, if you decompose any project in a law practice (litigation, a deal, etc.) only a few pieces of the overall task really require intense human effort. The rest? Let the machines handle it.
Are We All Doomed?

At this point, you might be wondering if the whole profession is doomed. Susskind’s answer is “Not Necessarily.”

The book contains a useful section of questions to ask of any legal employer you’re considering working for, to see how prepared they are for the future. And he includes a list of legal-related jobs that are likely to expand in the future (overseeing the machines and managing complex disaggregation projects, mostly).

If you think there’s any chance Susskind is right about what’s coming (or, more importantly, if you’ve never considered the question), Tomorrow’s Lawyers is required reading. Get your copy today! (Or check it out of the library. That’s cool, too.)

And stay tuned for the rest of our summer reading list. More good stuff to come!

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Read On:

Interested in where the profession is heading? Here are a few other posts you might enjoy:

And here’s more from the summer reading list:

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  1. Thanks for the book suggestion. Will check it out.


  1. […] As you prepare to become a lawyer, it’s important to stay current on the dynamics at play in the profession.  Check out the following blog post reviewing Richard Susskind’s new book, Tomorrow’s Lawyers, which looks at several “drivers for change” at work that are likely to change the face of the profession in the years to come: […]

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