Over at my Legal Blogwatch beat, I wrote about Cisco GC Mark Chandler’s speech taking big law firms to task for their “guild” mentality and lack of responsiveness to clients. You ought to read the whole post, which excerpts the speech, but Chandler argues that companies like his are concerned about legal costs, want fixed fees and access to information without having to pay someone to find it.
You may think that if you represent consumers, that Chandler’s speech doesn’t apply. But it does, even more so. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Many want information about their case provided regularly, and expect that lawyers have the technology to provide it at no cost. (Grant Griffiths and Greatest American Lawyer both recognize that, and they’ve each implemented Base Camp to facilitate client access to information). And as David Giacalone points out here at Shlep (self help law express), as technology increases, more and more clients may start taking matters into their own hands.
Used to be that we lawyers could denigrate pro se clients, and call them stupid or foolish for
trying to handle matters themselves. But no one’s denigrating Marc Chandler – law firms are listening to what he has to say. And that’s what all of us lawyers need to do: hear our clients’ desire to play a part in their matters, or to keep their case on a budget that they can afford (no, not what they want to pay, but what they can afford to pay). Because otherwise, we may just find ourselves supplanted, rather than supported by technology.