The future of the legal field is very different, depending who you ask. With many older attorneys born around the Second World War retiring, and new attorneys entering in from law schools, the demographics of the field is changing rapidly. Many more women have earned their JDs and passed the bar, and states, like our elite Marine Corps., have been putting in place even higher and higher standards and regulations. This probably means fewer, but prouder lawyers down the road.
Law Schools Losing Students
Take the drop in law school students. As the US News and World Report reported, enrollment in law schools across the country fell 24% from 2010 to 2013. With the number of new students declining, the value of existing and newly minted attorneys will increase. A combination of retirements and lower enrollment could lead to the emergence of an attorney shortage.
Changes in Law Offices Generally
In addition, the average office will change dramatically. Some of these shifts have already started, but they will further accelerate over the coming several decades. For many firms, there will be a minimal brick and mortar presence and a shift toward technology. For many attorneys today, the idea of a mobile office can be shown with a cell phone and laptop. The introduction of tablets have made the shift even more dramatic– with the tablet representing a device that can record important conversations, send emails, video chat like Google Hangouts on Air, and more.
Many brick and mortar offices will shrink or even disappear. Some offices will tie in with others and share space or staff to save money. The use of rerouting phone numbers or answering services will allow for fewer staff to be used. The increased cost of rent and utilities can further extend the trend.
- Changes in The Internet
The internet has also opened up many doors for the legal professions. Getting in contact with other attorneys is so much easier than just two decades earlier, as is research. Keeping and sharing documents is now a breeze. A well-constructed website can make a large difference in wowing potential clients, especially younger and more internet savvy ones. An effective social media presence can be an incredible tool to get your message out there– and its role in the future marketplace will simply increase.
There will be many changes that will leave parts of the legal field very different over the next ten to twenty years. However, the adaptability of attorneys is near-legendary and will be able to keep the profession strong. The real question is more personal– where will you be in the changing wave?
Michael Ehline is the head of Ehline Law Firm PC, a premiere personal injury and auto accident firm in the Greater Los Angeles area. A former Marine, Michael seeks to aid those entering into the legal field. He believes that the attorney’s first responsibility to help their client, especially those that have faced difficult times or injury.