August 2016

Change is.  Years ago, many people debated whether the legal industry was changing.  Truth be told, the debate was silly.  Change is.  The only question is the speed of change.  It used to be slow.  It took years to move from fountain pens to ball point pens, from wet copy machines to dry, and so forth.  There was a day when FedEx was novel. Now change is fast.

So the question becomes how you confront the inevitability of change.  Do you study it, see it and lead it?  Or do you wait for it to happen and hope you can hang on and catch up?  Frankly, the latter seems a silly approach. Hope is never a good strategy.  Yet it somehow feels safe, so that is the most go.

Others have reasons for not trying to see the future–they know they have just a few more years before they don’t have to worry about it.  So they hope they can delay the impact of change for a few more years, and then ride off into the retirement sunset.  While that strategy might be good for them, it isn’t such a good approach for those in the firm who are younger.

The problem all lawyers who are not leading change face is that change is accelerating. That box that you’re reading these words on, and all the related technology, are making change accelerate.  But more importantly, because your clients are changing at a rapid rate (most business try to take advantage of change), the gap between you and your clients is widening.  And that is a really bad thing.

So the question every lawyer and every law firm must confront has been and remains: are you going to lead change or just hang on and hope?