The future of the professions: "the real game-changer hasn't even been conceived yet"

The future of the professions: "the real game-changer hasn't even been conceived yet"

We are well beyond the point at which there is any serious argument about whether the legal profession is in the throes of marked transformation. It is not a matter of if, rather when, how and how much. It's a broad, complex and profound subject that is taken to task in the recently-published The Future of the Professions by Professor Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind.

We have been here before. Bold predictions abound of how the Internet and technology revolutions will change the face of legal practice beyond recognition. Indeed, Richard Susskind has written and presented extensively on the subject before. Many observers point out that the title of his 2008 book "The End of Lawyers?" has not come to pass, to which his response has been that they have overlooked the all-important question mark in the title.

This background is reflected in the tone of the Susskinds' latest book, which exhibits something of a defensive tone and you are never far from a "cynics might say..." or "to answer our doubters..." to illustrate this. Indeed, there is a whole chapter on "Objections and Anxieties" as well as a section entitled "Why we Might be Wrong".

It is all the better for it. The net effect is that this makes for a more balanced, authoritative and ultimately more enjoyable read. This will no doubt disappoint those in the professions looking for fodder to dismiss as a dogmatic futurist narrative. There is more good news in that the book is written in a relaxed, flowing and easily-consumable style, which is no mean feat bearing in mind the complex nature of the matters addressed.

The professions

As its title suggests, the book covers "the professions" collectively, not just the legal profession, (which is my focus here). The definition is clearly not a straightforward one and it is inevitably explored in some detail. Examples specified include

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