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Commoditization of Lawyers: What Next?

October 6, 2011

If you want legal advice in the UK, you will soon be able to get it at your local bank or supermarket. That is the result of reforms to make the law more accessible and cheaper.

Of course, reactions to this vary, with many lawyers and law firms strongly opposed and asserting that it will lead to a proliferation of bad advice. It certainly raises a number of questions, both in terms of the benefits it will bring and the possible consequences. Yet it is also exactly the type of initiative that led IACCM to conduct its ‘future of contracting’ study, because anyone who believes that the next few years will not bring fundamental changes is, we suggest, fooling themselves.

This ‘commoditization’ of the law must surely increase demands for easier and faster access to commercial and contractual advice. It is once more symbolic of a dual force now affecting ‘professionalism’. On the one hand, there is a growing need for more in-depth expertise; on the other, there is the imperative to make that expertise more accessible, more responsive and less costly.

Among the relevant findings in the ‘Future of Contracting’ interviews are the pressure to drive increased empowerment among user communities and also the demand for contracts themselves to become far more user-friendly. Professionalism must not involve mystique.

There are some fascinating challenges and opportunities ahead of us – not least of which is that professional associations like IACCM will most likely see a continued increase in demand for their low cost, instantly accessible advisory services.

To see more about the UK initiative to put legal services into the retail environment, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15187154

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