A Profession, If You Can Keep It: How Information Technology and Fading Borders Are Reshaping the Law Marketplace and What We Should Do About It
Volume 63, Issue 4, 953-1022
Technology is changing the way we do business. It has made cross-border trade in goods and services easy. Capital is finding ways to profit from the law business. Lawyers strive to serve clients wherever they need help, including outside their jurisdiction of admission. These changes not only affect how American law firms work, they challenge our system for licensing and regulating lawyers. The traditional geocentric model for regulating the bar, based on physical place of practice, is unstable today because lawyers can practice physically in many places and (virtually) in every place, yet no place in particular.
The next twenty years are likely to see greater transformation in how the American (and world) legal professions are organized and ply their services than was true for any comparable period in history. We have two choices. We can try to impede these forces in order to preserve a familiar and comfortable world that seems to be slipping away. Or we can decide that today’s rules should adapt to accommodate and direct the forces at bay in order to preserve the values of the American bar, which include the efficient delivery of services at reasonable cost. This Article endorses the second goal and describes how we might seek to achieve it.