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By Mark Smith
This post is not going to be a review of ReinventLaw London – there are already a few of these on the web (good one here for example) and no-one likes to be late to the party.
It was a great event – engaging speakers (both practitioners and students), an enthusiastic, passionate and informed audience, and great social media interaction. So what's the problem? The problem is the people who weren't there. The people who don't know or care about what technology is capable of now. Who don't sit at night re-inventing the law firm business model. Those people who don't see how self-service has swept vast swathes of the consumer facing business world, or see how business to business organisations have been re-engineered through a combination of process improvement and outsourcing.
Sadly, many of these people are the partners of the very institutions that are most threatened by these changes. Part of the challenge with the partnership business model is that those people who will retire in the foreseeable future often have least to gain from investing time, energy and money in preparing for the future. Unfortunately, these senior partners are often those with the most influence over the firm direction.
Yes, it's still a remarkably tough market, and for those firms that have made a conscious decision to focus on the short term to keep their heads above water on the understanding that they need to do this to ensure they have a firm in five years, then that's entirely understandable. But for those who don't accept the change that is already happening (let alone the more disruptive possibilities glimpsed at #reinventlaw), or simply don't care, I think they risk leaving a legacy that the next generation of law firm owners may well wish they hadn't.
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