The world palpably shook in September 2008 and the repercussions are still very much with us, according to Bruce MacEwen in his book Growth is Dead: Now What? Law Firms on the Brink. Clients of big law firms are putting more pressure on prices than ever before. They are strongly resisting paying for junior associates, and requiring that major segments of matters be handled by low-cost providers such as LPOs and contract lawyers. Realisation rates and leverage have fallen sharply, and law firms are experiencing significant excess capacity.
Many busy people take journalism for granted, but the disruption of journalism should be a matter of urgent concern to democratic societies because the free flow, integrity and independence of journalism is essential to citizens who vote, according to journalism professor George Brock in his book Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age. The book aims to explain why the news media is undergoing radical alteration, and what the result ought to be and might be.
The legal services marketplace is currently undergoing significant change, but resisting change is not the way to survive, according to David Galbenski in his book Legal Visionaries: How to Make Their Innovations Work for You. Since the onset of the global financial crisis, law firms have been facing significant pressures, and law graduates have had immense difficulties in finding employment. Nonetheless, structural changes are creating opportunities as well as problems.
Successful change comes down to identifying the key behaviours that, if they occur reliably and regularly, indicate that a desired change has taken hold. A detailed, even granular, vision of the future can dramatically increase the odds of getting there. Abstract or ephemeral visions wrapped in corporate speak do not, according to Gregory Shea and Cassie Solomon in their book Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change Work.
Digital technologies have certainly disrupted the businesses of book sellers and newspaper proprietors, but have they fundamentally altered supply and demand for writing? That is a question posed by economist Joshua Gans in his book Information Wants to Be Shared. It has become easier to produce (write) and consume (read), and the new ease of reading and writing have eliminated the barriers that protected the publishing industry from competition.
There are two main reasons why information “wants” to be shared:
The book goes on to discuss the differences between “free” information and “shared” information; the history of book publishing, including the use of expensive binding as a quality signalling mechanism, and the effect of the virtual elimination of distribution costs; the plight of newspapers and the ascension of the Facebook model of news publishing; and the future of shared information and innovative business models to achieve it.
The author admits that the style of this short ebook is speculative and far from formal or comprehensive, and by the end of it I was no more certain about the best way forward for publishers or newspaper proprietors. Nevertheless, I found it to be a really interesting discussion of the issues, giving some new and creative perspectives on information, publishing, and digital disruption.