John G. Kelly

 Tags: Legal Services

An LLM Professional Career Launcher Perspective
 

The problem is not what lawyers invented. It’s what they are (not) doing to reinvent in the face of external change.[1]

The legal profession, encompassed in a 19th century monopoly guild architecture model encompassing lawyers, judges and law professors, did an admirable job in developing a “legal infrastructure” that was one of the primary pillars for a stable industrial economy and its corresponding social structures. However, as noted law professor and University of Southern California law professor Gillian Hadfield points out above, there has been a paradigm shift to an information economy and complex socio economic environment and eco system. This paradigm shift has propagated a harsh criticism of glaring problems with the established legal infrastructure and the legal profession and the need for dramatic change. Which brings readers to the central theme of her widely acclaimed recently published book, Rules for a Flat World, that’s the mutual concern of the long list of endorsers of the book with “A” level credentials in the new economy.

What almost nobody is talking about is how are we going to build those rules. But here’s the secret that troubles me: our mechanism for creating and implementing law- or what I call more generally our legal infrastructure, the almost invisible platform of rules and practices on which we build everything else in our economy – are not up to the task.

As many of the general counsel at our most innovative companies in interviews, and ordinary people around the world are angrily telling their politicians, the legal systems we have are failing ever more regularly to do what law is supposed to do: make it easier for people to work together and make life for all better, not worse. [2]

The Legal Profession has marginalized itself

The legal profession is extremely adept at providing a mix of services that cater to the needs of the elite segments of the established order. And law firms do compete, albeit only with one another and not in the broader professional services market, under the protection of their highly regulated monopoly guild.  However, a comprehensive study and corresponding interviews by Hadfield and colleagues estimates that this model limits their market reach to 28% of the non-corporate environment. Many of the high- tech CEOs that she interviewed for this book are outspoken in their criticism of the complex and costly machinations of an arcane legal system dominated by a monopoly guild legal profession with single track solutions.  According to a Supreme Court of Canada study, “Between 1998 and 2003, an average of 46 per cent of litigants in the Ontario Family Courts were not represented by a lawyer, rising to 62 per cent in 2006-2007 before falling somewhat to 54 per cent in 2009-2010, the last year for which there was data”[3].

Legal Education remains ensconced in a 19th century learning mode

In an era in which the design and deliver of client centered solutions by teams of multi-disciplinary professionals with specialized credentials,[4] is the key to client to client centered services, the JD degree clings to a 19th century generic model of academic jurisprudence. It imposes “a one-size-fits-all structure that stifles innovation[5] and leaves many students both unprepared and over -prepared to meet societal needs[6] The “21st Century Vibrant Legal Services Market” is opening doors for a new creative class of professional services providers while three long years of guild “approved” one size fits all JD legal education is teaching law students to “think like law professors”[7] 

“Back to the Future”

The Foundation for a 21st Century Legal Infrastructure

The solution in Hadfield’s opinion is to “go back to the future”. The first section of the book is devoted to an historical perspective on how present day legal infrastructure evolved out of a complex networking of guilds and community centric social structures that created what we would classify today as “Peer to Peer (2P)” networks[8] that were sensitive to and in tune with the political and market structures of their period. Adherence to what was often a rough-hewn rule of law was rooted in public respect for a social order that worked.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. Hadfield suggests that we acknowledge the obvious; the legal profession’s highly regulated monopoly guild model of the practice of law is of limited value in the new economy. She advocates we accept that the complex order of big government designed and controlled laws and regulations is no longer working and embrace a renewed form of market legal services that is multi-disciplinary professional service provider driven

Here’s how a market-based fourth alternative could be added to this (law) mix. Instead of civil servants or the managers of a regulated company designing the details of how to achieve politically set goals ---, private for profit and non-profit companies (and professional associations) could offer this as a service in the market for a fee. To participate in this market, these companies (professional associations) would have to be approved as private regulators by the government. ---. Regulated businesses would be required to choose a regulator from among the approved private regulators. The private regulators would regulate businesses, and the government would regulate the private regulators.[9] 

What the H …? Where did such a ridiculous idea come from and how the H… would it ever work?

The model of competing private regulators is not entirely unheard of in the modern world. As I noted in Chapter 9, since changes made in 2007 lawyers in England and Wales have been regulated in an explicitly super regulatory system[10] (with nine private self- regulated bodies of legal services providers regulated by a “super” governmental Legal Services Board (LSB)[11]

In the UK, this model has facilitated the creation of innovative law firm/consultancies. It’s created a bourgeoning professional services career market for what legal services guru Richard Susskind labels as the “paraprofessional[12], not be confused with the para-legal. The para-professional is a multi-disciplinary professional services provider who combines a basic knowledge of law in a specified area associated with their expertise in a defined professional service field to integrate law into a broad -based client centered solution. The graduate “Combined LLM” is the preferred professional credential in the broad professional legal services market. (For details read A Way Forward for Law Schools at www.professionalcareerlauncher.com)  In the UK, the LLM is a stand- alone direct entry graduate degree open to non - law graduates with related professional undergraduate credentials.

In North America, its opened the door for the “Big 4” consultancies to “disrupt” the legal profession’s coveted practice of law and provide clients frustrated with standard legal advice with innovative “law if necessary but not necessarily law” comprehensive client centered consulting services. For a detailed description of how consultancies are invading the turf of law firms and how well they’re doing by providing clients with law related consultancy services refer to Harvard Law Tells Big Law to Get With it or Be Left Behind by the “Big 4” Consultancies at www.professionalcareerlauncher.com

 

How do I as a frustrated lawyer or an aspiring professional get the Career Credential to open the door to this Creative Class of Professional Services Provider?

How does my law firm or professional services consultancy expand its reach by finding a bourgeoning legal services niche and developing a legal services professional services practice?

Go to the LLM Professional Career Launcher Web Site

www.professionalcareerlauncher.com

Download St

[1] Gillian K. Hadfield. Rules for a Flat World. Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent it for a Complex Global Economy. New York. Oxford University Press. (2017) at P294.

[2] Ibid P. 3

[3] Troubled family court system needs urgent overhaul, report says ... https://www.thestar.com › News › Canada

[4] Heidi K Gardiner. Smart Collaboration. Boston. Harvard Business Review Press. (2016).

[5] Tanina Rostain. Self-Regulatory Authority, Markets, and the Ideology of Professionalism AT P192 from The Oxford Handbook of Regulation. Eds. Robert Baldwin, Martin Cave, Martin Lodes. London. Oxford University Press. (2010).

[6] Deborah L. Rhode. The Trouble With Lawyers. New York. Oxford University Press. (2015) at P 128.

[7] Ibid at P129

[8] Robin Chase. Peers Inc. New York. Public Affairs (2015).

[9] Supra 1 at P.266

[10] Supra 1 at P. 267

[11] www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/

[12] Richard Susskind, Daniel Susskind. The Future of the Professions. London. Oxford University Press. (2015).

 

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