Remember learning about the Industrial Revolution? Yeah, I know it’s a Monday and you’re still foggy from the weekend, but try to remember. Before the Industrial Revolution we had the craft guilds. You had your tinkers, your tailors and I guess you had candlestick makers. More importantly, people got into the field by learning from someone already in the field. If you wanted to learn a trade, you became an apprentice to someone already in the trade.
That had been the model of the law profession for decades (even longer) when I became a lawyer. You went to law school and learned to “think like a lawyer.” Then you found a law practice willing to pay you while you learned to actually practice law (which is very different from “thinking like a lawyer”). You worked your way up in the firm until you were one of the lawyers who knew how to practice law. Then YOU brought in the newbies and taught them how to practice law.
That model began to change. I am not exactly sure when it happened, but it may have coincided with lawyers advertising on T.V. Law firms became big; really big. You began to see lawyers advertising for everything: “Have you been injured on the job?” “Do you have mesothelioma?” “Are creditors annoying you?” Lawyering became a business rather than a profession. Even the older, established firms became factories churning out product on the assembly line called the billable hour.
And then (cue the celestial choir) came the internet. It was the great equalizer. Now, even the smallest of the small could compete with the big box law firms. How is that possible? It’s the megaphone. The megaphone is now available to all and that megaphone is the internet. And the important thing happening now with the practice of law is that we are turning the megaphone around. We want to know what you want and need.
Lawyers can no longer tell potential clients, “I am the best because I went to this law school, got this accolade and served on this Board.” Clients want to know, “What can you do for me with my individual and very important problem?” The internet allows us to address those questions . . . and we should address those questions.
With all this new technology, the client has many more options. You can purchase online forms or online legal services. Perhaps you can find a virtual law firm with no bricks and mortar presence, but available to you 24/7 on the internet. The practice of law is no longer a one size fits all proposition.
The practice of law is a profession. It is also a business. We owe our clients honest, straight-forward answers to their questions. If we can provide that service online, all the better. It is a changing world and the legal profession needs to change with it. Irvine Law Firm intends to be on the cutting edge of those changes. Please contact us if we can help you with your legal needs.