The legal profession, an essential part of the Spanish judicial system, seems to distance itself each day from the citizens. Using the infamous case #LaManada, of which I don’t believe we can add anything new about. From Del Canto Chambers, and foreseeing what is to come, we believe it is necessary to consider four keys of debate in relation to the future of the Spanish legal profession.
In Tomorrow’s Lawyers (Oxford University Press), the professor Richard Susskind OBE says that the legal practice will change more in the next 20 years than in the past few centuries. In the second edition of 2017, many of these changes are echoed, of which we have not had to wait centuries for. It is the reflection that motivates us to consider this ever so necessary debate.
1.- The use of the web for professionals and citizens.
The majority of firms today use applications for demands, procedural follow-ups, due diligence projects, elaboration of contracts and even to apply the best jurisdiction or applicable law.
If these legal resources and knowledge are available not only for professionals but for anyone on the web, our question is, how will we have to adapt to this new legal reality?
2.- The demand in the legal services market
The market exercises its own pressure to speed up, reduce the costs and rationalise the process of legal work. Personally, I don’t believe it is a question of size or outsourcing, but one of specialisation and a capacity to offer solutions made to measure.
In a professional reality where we can easily create collaborative environments in the web, we observe that each time there are more professionals work from home and fewer people that feel like finding parking to receive legal advice.
3.- The deregulation of the profession and “advocacy” brand
In addition to a greater offer of legal advice packages through insurers, businesses and other platforms, the concept of intrusion seem to be blurred and reduced to the procedural practice and the use of the term lawyer, lawyer, or lawyer. In Spain, consultancies, agencies, consultancies and even notaries carry out more and more work traditionally reserved for the legal profession, as a regulated profession.
It doesn’t proceed, neither in law, our outside of it, to claim a bigger regularization, for this would go against the dictates of the market. Our professional associations and especially the very own Spanish legal profession has to take the promotion of the profession seriously.
We must invest a lot more and in a more productive way to consolidate the advocacy brand and its services, with a good communication strategy that responds to the reality of the market.
4.- The new generations of female lawyers and clients, yes, you read correctly.
The technology, the market and the deregulation that Ausskind mentions will place us in the centre of the debate. It is historically, a profession defined by men, practised by men and to the service of men; in our professional and market reality, women’s paper cannot continue to be obviated.
The elephant in the room is the need to recognise that it is neither a profession of men or for men. It is fundamental to incorporate a gender perspective in our profession and to start to speak of female lawyers and clients.
Female lawyers, yes, those professionals that form our firms and who, in reality, carry out most of the work. Female lawyers who have worked their whole life as that, and new lawyers, who next to their fellow male lawyers, aspire for an equal advocacy, both in dignity and wages. And by their side, on the opposite side of the table, female clients. Old and new, equal in rights and obligations, tired of being treated condescendingly and in a paternalistic way.
No, it is not angry millennials. It is professionals who want to practice law and clients willing to contract their services – but most of all, they demand to be agents of change. A necessary change in perspective, but also a generational one, that requires equal professional conditions, more satisfactory, efficient and effective.
The capacity we have to adapt our offices to the new egalitarian scenario, proposing new business models and fully incorporating ourselves into the digital age and information are the factors that will ensure the future of our profession. And it is that, otherwise, we do not see the future of the Legal Profession very clearly – except for better opinion. And we open the debate.