The Value of Human Capital in the increasingly technology-dependent legal industry

The more things change, in some way, the more things seem to stay the same. One of the constants in my ongoing education as a marketer in the legal industry is the sage advice of Ed Poll’s LawBizBlog.

A recent post of Ed’s tackles the perennial subject of technology’s impact on labor markets. Specifically, as a legal professional, he focuses on the impact of technology on the legal profession combined with the economic climate of the most recent recession.

It is his closing argument that really hits home, in my opinion:

The legal profession understands this process. Thousands of lawyers have been laid off, fired or encouraged to retire since the Great Recession. Many of them were document review lawyers or lawyers with little or no marketing skills. In Mr. Claassen’s terminology, these were the “lower or middle income” lawyers of the profession. Such economic disruption never happened in the profession before. Despite the economic improvement of our economy, and law firm profitability, most of those jobs will not return. Why? Because technological improvements have made many obsolete or more expensive than clients want to pay. Discovery search technology is far more efficient and accurate than hundreds of document review lawyers. These jobs will not return.

This is progress. Does it come with some pain to individuals? Yes. Should there be an economic soft landing for those affected? Perhaps. That is a matter for society to determine, but it is not reason to limit wage increases or disfavor research and development.

Source: LawBizBlog

What’s the Point?

Progress and innovation have a way of bringing out both the best and the worst of people. I’ve seen some lawyers and other professionals in the industry seemingly reinvent themselves. By taking an entrepreneurial approach, building strong personal brands and embracing the communication tools that prospective clients are likely to be using, these folks haven’t just survived the Great Recession—they have thrived.

What about the folks that have tried to “play it safe” by doing things the way they’ve always done it? They are the ones Ed is talking about. The ones crying sour grapes, rather than trying to leverage their skills to provide an even better value to their clients.

Which category do you and your firm fall into?


Image courtesy Wikimedia