How Lawyers Can Mindfully Cope With Changes Coming To The Legal Profession

The legal profession is facing an avalanche of change in the way it conducts its business. We think we are used to change because that is the nature of law. We live in the changing world of courts, business, technology and legislation. Now we are also experiencing a world where books are being replaced by eBooks, where DVDs are being replaced by live streaming, hotels by renting rooms in people’s homes, taxis by Uber and bank loans by peer to peer lending.

What Is Changing For Lawyers?

The following five trends are impacting the legal profession:

Outsourcing: This trend has already impacted other professions such as accounting and is now impacting the legal profession. Some paralegal and litigation support tasks such as coding and document review are being outsourced saving you time, money and the need to have some skills.

Artificial Intelligence: Legal research has been done online for some time and already reduces the amount of time it used to take to research. But the quality of what is available to us in terms of legal research is about to change exponentially with the advent of artificial intelligence. Legal software will only become cleverer at predicting rulings, conducting research and recommending courses of action. Although it will make our roles much more efficient, it will also come with a whole new set of challenges in the way we invoice clients and how we ensure the advice we are giving is correct and up to date. We will still need to know whether something has changed in the last few days which won’t have been incorporated in the predictive software at the time we are giving advice.

Social Media: It has now become part of how we market our legal services, how we recruit, how we conduct research into the people we are recruiting and how we gather evidence to support our client’s position. It will only become more so in the future.

A Multi-Generational Workforce: For the first time in history we now have four generations working side by side in the legal workspace. We have traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X and generation Y working together. People are now working longer and it means in some places there is a generation gap of over 50 years between the youngest and the oldest employees. This requires levels of tolerance, understanding and communication we might not be used to.

Alternative Billing Models: The traditional billable hours model was not popular with our clients and was seen as rewarding inefficiency. As intelligent software becomes more commonplace, it will bring about further changes to the traditional billable hours model. The value of our advice will no longer bear much relationship to how long it took us to provide it.

Global research by Deloitte has found other issues from a worldwide survey of legal clients. Nearly half of all legal service providers interviewed indicated that regulatory compliance, mediation and arbitration and litigation were growing areas in their businesses. However, the same researchers also found that loyalty to a law firm was no guaranteed. More than half (55%) of those interviewed said they had recently reviewed their arrangement with their legal supplier or would be doing so within 12 months.

Deloitte also found that what people wanted from their law firm was now changing. Instead of pure legal advice, clients also wanted their lawyers to have more industry, commercial or non-legal expertise. They thought it would be helpful if they had digital, data, privacy & cyber security skills and if they were more proactive with their knowledge sharing. This may eventually result in law firms having partnering arrangements with other professions so that client needs can be more fully serviced.

Interesting Changes That Have Already Happened

What changes have I already seen professionals undertake? Here are some:

A not for profit family law firm where profits are either donated to a suitable charity or put back into to the organisation or staff, rather than being paid out to partners as profits.
The use of emoticons in correspondence by one law firm because putting a happy face at the end of an email makes sure the other party knows you aren’t looking to escalate a dispute.
The formation of strong networks with other professionals who might refer work to you or vice versa. These networks might contain anyone from accountants, bankers, financial planners, insurance and stock brokers to health professionals. You can form these networks on an informal basis, or with regular monthly meetings where you all invite your clients to come along to a meet and greet.
One firm has a ‘digital festival’ every six months to keep clients up to date on relevant technology and any relevant legal issues or risks associated with using or not using it.
Apps which help people track what stage their file is at (eg text alert when search sent off to a government department or when lease sent to tenant), when their next meeting is, the government bodies they will need to contact for different issues etc.
Strategic positioning of law offices into non-traditional physical locations such as health or innovation hubs.

How Do We Mindfully Cope With This Amount Of Change

Lawyers are traditionally conservative. We have a way we are using to being perceived, a way we dress and speak, a way we expect our office furniture to look and a standard approach to how business is done… pretty much, the way it always has been. Now we are being asked to shake things up and make changes to the way we do business if we are to stay relevant.

Change can be a good thing. If you are old enough to remember black and white TV, cassette tapes you had to wind with a pencil when they broke, floppy disks or fax machines you will know what I am talking about. Have you ever sold your house? Did you engage in a frenzy of cleaning, throwing out, moving furniture to new places and repairing things you had put up with for years. After it was all done, did you stand back and look at this sparkling house and wonder why you ever thought selling and moving was a good idea? Your legal practice could probably benefit from a similar clean out, repair and shake up. Instead of seeing these changes as a disruption, how about if you saw them as an opportunity to upgrade?

Our very human reaction to change is to see it as a bad or threatening thing. After all, that is what kept us safe when we were evolving. Every change in our environment was a potential threat to our existence. Mindfulness asks you to see change, just as change. It is neither good nor bad, it is merely change.

Mindfulness also asks that you acknowledge change is required and accept what that will mean. Acceptance means not railing against the need for change, but rather accepting it and working out step by step what can be done about it.

Getting Good Legal Advice

Risks and rewards drive choices. Legal questions also require an understanding of the gamble and rewards. In litigation, for example, you often take your chances with the random assignment of a judge. The judge may manage her courtroom strictly or loosely, or she may be known to rule impulsively. Risks can include the likely jury composition based on their values and outlooks. Another downside could also be the financial resources of the opponent. Those funds may be available to pay a sizeable verdict, but they are also available to defend the case aggressively before the case reaches trial. Or conversely, the opponent may go bankrupt at the end of the litigation.

Assessing risks and rewards is much like an underwriter evaluates a credit risk by assigning a credit score. No case is perfect, but when appraising it, the dollar amount marked as the “target” value should accurately incorporate both strengths and weaknesses.

A competent legal counselor will carefully review the law and evidence with his clients at various stages of litigation. This review is similar to a frequently used market valuation used in business, known as “SWOT.” The acronym is “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” This process is often run backward from a future time when a judge, arbitrator or jury will be making a decision. The process is always one of asking what evidence do we have and does the evidence satisfy the requirements of the law? For example, is this witness a convincing witness who will make a positive impression on the witness stand? Maybe the question will be whether a judge will allow evidence into the case, such as evidence in an age discrimination case that the employer has discriminated against older workers in similar circumstances in the past?

Sometimes the risk is that juries in a particular jurisdiction are known to favor employers or corporations and to be unsympathetic to lawsuits by employees. A good counselor will have information about the likely jury pool, judge, or arbitrator. He will also get information about what verdicts have been for similar cases in that jurisdiction.

An effective counsel will reassess risks and rewards as the case progresses, and as she obtains new information. Witness statements, newly discovered documents, expert opinions, and cash reserves can be reasons for a material shift in valuation.

All my clients must also evaluate their level of resolve to press on with the case to a conclusion by arbitration award or verdict. The opponent will use every available negative piece of information to discredit the Plaintiff. An aggressive adversary will try to frighten and humiliate a party with embarrassing facts, such as a past arrest or incarceration, addiction, a job firing or a psychiatric history. Often this information can be excluded from evidence, but the client must be resilient enough to accept that the other side will use these tactics to shift the focus from its wrongdoing.

Capable legal counsel will know and articulate the opponent’s arguments from the outset before the case is filed or served. Just as importantly, counsel must have the courage to weigh the evidence as it comes in by documents and witnesses and to tell the client the case may not be as air-tight as first thought. This candid reassessment is a service because it grounds the client in reality, and saves the client the time, emotion and effort of a protracted battle without the desired payoff.

In my office, we role-play. We as attorneys not only make the opponent’s case, but we play the part of the witnesses, seeing the battle through their eyes and with their emotions. We ask our clients to engage with us in this pre-trial drama, as if they were the opponent, telling the opponent’s view of things as the client will likely hear it from the witness stand.

Most clients find this role-playing difficult. But as we remind them again that they are “out of character” they return to making the opponent’s testimony, however much they disbelieve it. One positive outcome of the exercise is the client’s appreciation that there is another plausible narrative vying for acceptance by the arbitrator or jury. This deeper understanding gives the client the power to assess risks more accurately. This knowledge, in turn, helps the client set the best settlement target.

In conclusion, legal counsel will guide his or her client to reach a target number for settlement. If that they cannot achieve that number, both attorney and client can feel confident going forward that trial is the best option.

How Home Insurance Lawyers Can Help Resolve Your Case

Terri-Lynn Robinson’s entire life was turned upside down when a dispute with her ex-husband went disastrously wrong. As he packed to move out, he decided to take revenge. He retrieved a BBQ lighter and lit the entire length of their bed skirt on fire. With her in the room. Within minutes, her bedroom went up in flames. While Terri was able to escape, her home and life were in shambles. Her house, an object of arson, was uninhabitable. She turned to her insurance company, who responded by denying her claim. Their reason was that, since her ex-husband was on title, the damage was caused by the home-owner and thus was not covered. Terri is a victim of spousal abuse; she lost her home during the dissolvement of her marriage. When things couldn’t get worse, she was told that she was on her own. Insurance that she had paid for would not be stepping in. Terri was left to pay the mortgage on a “rotting shell” while she lived in a shelter. She could not afford the repairs on her income, and she now faces the very real possibility of bankruptcy and the loss of the rest of her possessions. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, a home insurance lawyer can help.

This Happens More than you Think

Terri-Lynn is not the first woman to be a victim of spousal abuse and arson. She is definitely not the first to have claims wrongfully denied. The tragic outcome of these denials can be complete loss of quality of life and home. Home insurance lawyers are the connecting link between these horrible tragedies and a successful outcome. Lawyers fight for your rights and your insurance claims. Insurance is paid so that it is there when you need it the most. It is a tragedy that this money is lost, leaving you out of pocket for additional expenses that you cannot afford during the worst periods in your life.

Lawyers get Results

Insurance companies are just that: companies. Companies exist to make money. In addition to this, there is a lot of scrutiny over insurance claims to insure that a claim is not fraud. Unfortunately, this type of scrutiny often leaves the homeowners on the short end, with their claims denied. Home insurance lawyers are familiar with the laws and regulations surrounding insurance and claims. If your claim is denied, your next best move is to call for help.

Most home insurance lawyers work on a commission basis. This means that they do not get paid until you do. They understand that your current situation has already created financial strain. Hiring a lawyer should not add more stress to your current situation. If you can get the help you need to fight a claim that should be paid. To get the money needed to repair your home and life without the out-of-pocket expenses, make the call. Home insurance lawyers are there to fight for you. They are the middle liaison that understands your situation while having the legal knowledge to work in your favor. You paid for your insurance to be there for you. A home insurance lawyer will take the time needed to make sure that this is exactly what happens.