The Knowledge Guild: The Legal Profession in an Age of Technological Change - Review of Richard Susskind,'The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services'
Paul F. Kirgis
St. John's University School of Law
August 11, 2010
St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1656910
In "The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services," Richard Susskind predicts that lawyers will suffer the fate of other guild-members — the artisans and craftsman of an earlier age — who saw their livelihoods wiped out by the potent mix of technological advancement and market forces that is modernity. He argues that the commoditization of legal services will make much traditional legal work unnecessary, dramatically reducing the demand for the one-on-one client service that has sustained the growth of the legal profession. This review challenges Susskind’s assumption that the work of lawyers is analogous to the work of the mechanical craftsmen of previous eras and questions his failure to consider the political and legal factors that support the traditional legal profession. Susskind offers no evidence to support his claim that greater automation of legal work will result in less demand for human legal services. In fact, the evidence suggests that productivity increases in knowledge industries increase demand for those knowledge goods. And Susskind never discusses professional considerations such as malpractice, conflicts of interest and confidentiality that serve to reify the traditional order and limit the transformative power of technological change.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: susskind, end of lawyers, legal profession, commoditization, technology
Date posted: August 14, 2010
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