Why Law Students Should Be Thinking About Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Legal Services
Bloomberg Law, November 30, 2012
2 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2013
Date Written: November 30, 2012
One of the most pressing issues facing the profession in the 21st century is the "justice gap": millions of people who need legal representation cannot afford or access a lawyer. The overwhelming majority of this country goes without much-needed legal help because they simply cannot afford to pay a lawyer three-figures-per-hour for multiple hours, but they also do not qualify for the limited legal aid programs available. The legal profession faces a delivery problem - we have failed to develop sustainable models for delivering legal services that are affordable, accessible and, importantly, adopted by clients who utilize them on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, thousands of lawyers are unemployed, and law schools continue to graduate new attorneys at record levels. For these attorneys, individuals in the gap represent an opportunity - an enormous untapped market. Thus the legal profession also faces a matching problem - we struggle to pair appropriately qualified lawyers with clients who need them.
These delivery and matching problems are not new, but they have become particularly acute given the recent convergence of economic pressures, global competition, and technological advances. Law schools excel at producing legal experts, but the delivery and matching problems faced by the profession largely go ignored by legal education. Students are left to their own resources - the luckiest come to law school with a background in innovation and entrepreneurship. Others might obtain a joint degree that exposes them to these ideas. This is not true for most.
Our challenge is to create better delivery models that match appropriately qualified lawyers with the clients who need them. To find a solution, we need fuel to entrepreneurship and innovation in legal services. This short article, written at the invitation of Bloomberg Law, suggests several ways for law students and practitioners to do so.
Keywords: entrepreneurship, innovation, law, legal education
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