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.
The book essentially consists of interviews with corporate lawyers, venture capitalists, legal process outsourcers, legal education providers, legal entrepreneurs and others concerning current and future trends. Most of the people interviewed are engaging in some sort of innovative practice. One of the interviewees is a recent graduate interviewed four times several months apart, following her struggles in obtaining entry-level employment in a law firm.
I was particularly interested in the interview with Ellen Rosenthal, chief counsel of the Pfizer Legal Alliance. The Pfizer Legal Alliance is a collaborative arrangement between Pfizer and a number of external law firms. Each law firm is paid an annual flat fee instead of hourly rates. For any given project, Pfizer assembles a team of the best lawyers from across the different firms. Pfizer believes this gives better legal counsel and often better outcomes.
Other than the general theme of change in the legal profession, there is no particular over-arching structure to the book. Each interviewee has a different perspective, and the book just jumps from one interview to the next. The reader will find hints of opportunities throughout the book, but I suspect that most lawyers will long for a return to the pre-GFC days rather than look forward to the opportunities of the immediate future.