The Lawyer has produced something pretty impressive – a crystal ball for the legal professions, called 2018: A window into the future. It’s a collection of anecdotal and statistical information that sketches out what the legal industry will look like in five years’ time. While UK-based, in a global world this resource is worth a look, especially for those teachers whose subjects are more distinctly professional or skills-based and/or allow for critical analysis of what lawyers do, and will likely do in the future.
The predictions include: several international law firm mergers; the rise of an elite group of litigation boutiques, dominated by US firms; rapid consolidation, including an increase in alternative business structures and lawyers working with non-lawyers; diverse and multi-jurisdictional paths to the profession; and greater foreign law firm presence in China, Chinese online legal services and a Chinese-headquartered global firm.
Resources like this enable law teachers and schools to better understand what students who wish to enter practice might require and experience as lawyers or certain types of lawyers. But it’s up to academics to then link these trends, or apparent trends, to wider questions of justice, legitimacy, power, legal ethics and values.