Legal sector – predictions for the the next 20 years

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln

So this is Christmas and what have you done? Abraham Lincoln once responded to this question by saying he’d become a renowned lawyer, 16th President of the United States, led the nation through a bloody civil war, saved the Union, abolished slavery and modernized the US economy. I bet the interviewer wished instead he’d asked him what he wanted from Santa. We all know the end of a year is a time to reflect on the year’s triumphs and disasters and, for some, to do some planning for the future.

So to help you put the finishing touches to your own State of the Nation address, here are our PREDICTIONS FOR THE LEGAL SECTOR OVER THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS – and we’ll buy you all a drink if we’re proved wrong.

PREDICTION ONE – Driverless cars will bring an end to motor accidents and both claimant and defendant RTA lawyers will be seen with their feet up in the back seat reading textbooks on software litigation.

PREDICTION TWO – There will be a single regulator for all providers of legal services, whether they be solicitors, barristers, check-out staff or white plastic boxes blinking away in the corner of your living room.

PREDICTION THREE – Artificial intelligence will become capable of delivering even the most sophisticated legal advice and avatars will be seen propping up bars in posh London pubs sipping port and telling anecdotes of the olden days when lawyers used to deliberately scare their clients with funny wigs and obscure words from Call My Bluff.

PREDICTION FOUR – Private equity houses will get their heads round ways of stopping partners drawing out all the firm’s profits to spend on Bentley convertibles and the claret they used to drink before the small claims limit went up.

PREDICTION FIVE – Managing partners will discover that delivering niche advisory work and high-efficiency process-driven work under the same roof will make for increasingly tetchy conversations at the coffee machine.

PREDICTION SIX – Lawyers will start giving away stuff for free, and not just golf umbrellas.

PREDICTION SEVEN – All legal services will be clearly priced up front and Black Friday will not be constrained to Kensington High Street as ‘2-4-1’ conveyances and cut price January divorces become a feature of our industry – sorry, profession.

PREDICTION EIGHT – B&Q will become a major player in the legal sector as clients adopt a DIY approach to solving their own legal problems using online searches and social media chatrooms.

PREDICTION NINE – Rain-makers will emerge as the Strictly Come Dancing stars of the legal world and be photographed in Hello magazine falling out of nightclubs into the back of smoke-tinted limousines.

PREDICTION TEN – Great lawyers who focus on clients’ needs and think outside the box will have a fantastic future and run rings round those new entrants who mistakenly think that selling legal services is just like selling tins of beans.

And finally, with a slightly shorter time-frame in mind, we take this opportunity to wish our long-suffering readers a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year – let’s hope it’s a good one!