The Times They Are a Changin' for the Law Business

Just as Bob Dylan wrote in 1963, the times are indeed a changin' — for the law business. While the legal system continues to move (ahead) methodically and deliberately (the wheels of justice do, indeed, move slowly), the business of making a living as a lawyer is in the midst of a sea change. The profession faces competition from sources that were unimaginable not so long ago e.g., outsourcing legal research, document review, document preparation, etc. Clients make demands for economies that are impossible to realize without the use of technology. And then there is the looming impact of AI. At the heart of these changes is the ability to apply technology in ways that actually improve access to, the delivery of and the quality of affordable legal services.

Among the many changes in the practice of law is the use of online technology. The initial impetus behind the use of the internet was to make the rule of law available to people who previously had no access to a judicial system. The ubiquity of smart phones was key to making courts available to countless millions of people all over the world. From that original motivation has come a burgeoning use of online video for hearings, depositions, negotiations, arbitrations and mediations.

I recently mediated several claims, including multi-party matters, online. The conventional mechanics of a mediation transition to online seamlessly. There are now 2 generations of lawyers who grew up with smart phones, the ubiquitous presence of computers and the skill to use them. For them, facetime is an unremarkable fact of life. The only question posed to me about mediating online has been whether there is a measurable loss of efficacy. In other words, was the virtual experience of negotiating across the table a satisfactory substitute for the in-person version. My experience, the party’s feedback and the insights of others published in a variety of sources is, not much. (

In fact, to many, the difference between online and in-person did not register as an issue at all. As I have said before, online mediation is an inadequate alternative in some kinds of disputes. But the vast majority of claims can be successfully mediated without leaving your office.

Please don’t hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions about the process or a particular case.