This article identifies the five large-scale changes that have happened or are happening to the legal profession:
1. How technology solutions have moved law from a wholly bespoke service to one that resembles an off-the-shelf commodity;
2. How globalisation and outsourcing upend traditional expectations that legal work is performed where the legal need is, and shifts production away from high cost centres to low cost centres;
3. How managed legal service providers – who are low cost, technology-enabled, and process-driven – threaten traditional commercial practice;
4. How technology platforms will diminish the significance of the law firm; and
5. How artificial intelligence and machine learning systems will take over a significant portion of lawyers’ work by the end of the 2020s.
The article discusses how these changes have transformed or are transforming the practice of law, and explains how institutions within the law will need to respond if they are to remain relevant (or even to survive). More broadly, it examines the social implications of a legal environment where a large percentage of the practice of law is performed by institutions that sit outside the legal profession.
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