I was somewhat taken aback this week to read an article by John Grimley entitled "Why ReinventLaw needs reinventing". In commenting on the ReinventLaw event to take place in London on Friday 14 June, the author was suggesting that whilst innovative use of technology is all very well, it's really not as important as business development and growing law firm revenue. To quote:
"While I strongly believe in technological innovation in legal services – I believe it’s grossly overemphasized when one considers what law firms need most: Solutions focused on more effectively generating new law firm revenue."
A mild Twitter Spat (I feel an acronym coming on) followed, in which Mr Grimley maintained that what is needed most is revenue. Quite apart from the fact that the principal purpose of the ReinventLaw conference is to explore how technology is bringing great change to the way law is and will be practised and is not therefore an appropriate forum to discuss business development any more than it is to muse over the latest trends in trust law, the argument spectacularly misses the point. I am, however, grateful to Mr Grimley for demonstrating a substantial body of opinion (or at least hope) that the double, or triple, or bouncing or somersaulting cat recession will eventually go away and we can all get back to making lots of money again.
This wishful thinking does not stand up to much scrutiny. Technological change has barely begun and we either embrace and work with what is happening or we subside into Canute-like irrelevance. Come to ReinventLaw on Friday and hear how all around us those binary numbers are eating into what has been a lavish lunch for centuries. Clients will increasingly be offered new, less labour-intensive, more responsive and intuitive and, sorry Mr G, far less expensive ways of handling their legal affairs. In many instances, no human interaction will be required.
There might be short term gains to be had from milking the status quo, but those who change the way we work will be the ultimate winners, alongside the benefitting clients that is, for they are supposed to be the reason we as lawyers exist.