Articles filed under Future of law


On 6 October 2016 Professor Richard Susskind delivered the annual Society for Computers and Law lecture, entitled “Upgrading the Law”, marking 20 years since the publication of his The Future of Law. How had he fared in his predictions?

He was not shy about confirming his successes but did not gloat and admitted that his predicted expert systems solving complex legal issues hadn’t taken off as he’d envisaged. Whilst legal and compliance rules are increasingly built into systems, the artificial intelligence that has arrived is generated by brute force processing rather than elegant, encoded reasoning.

As to recent developments and his hopes and fears for the future, I pick two that have elicited further comment.

Future of the ProfessionsTwenty years after publication of The Future of Law, Richard Susskind has returned, with his son Daniel this time, to consider The Future of the Professions (OUP).

The Susskinds claim: “We are facing greater disruption and transformation in the next two decades than we have had in the past century”; and “We find it hard to avoid the conclusion that there will be a steady decline in the need for human professionals in the long run.”

Consider that, when The Future of Law was written in late 1995, few lawyers could have claimed to have used the world wide web and that the Law Society said Susskind senior was “dangerous” to suggest that email should be embraced by the profession. In comparing this to how law is practised today, it should be clear even to the sceptic the extent to which the work of the profession has been transformed in the last two decades. And, the authors say, we can and should extrapolate from this to see the likely direction the profession will take in the future.

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch late October 2015. Legal Web Watch is a free monthly email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

Legal Web Watch is a free monthly email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

This month: Reinventlaw London 2014 – the Twitter story; Delia’s legal web picks.

Legal Web Watch is an email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. This issue was published 15 February. To receive Legal Web Watch sign up here.

This month: Legal futurology; The future of law (again); Delia’s legal web picks.

How long does it take for an event to become a fixture in the landscape? The London marathon managed to do it following its first running in 1981 and has not looked back since. Another event, not quite on the same scale perhaps, looks set to make a similar impact in the legal arena. Last month saw the second Reinvent Law Conference at Centrepoint in London. Last year it was called LawTechCamp 2012, but otherwise the same format was used and the only other change was sponsorship by LexisNexis. It became so popular during the afternoon that #reinventlaw started trending on Twitter.

In his new book The End of Lawyers? (Oxford University Press) Richard Susskind challenges the legal profession to ask what elements of their current work could be undertaken more quickly, more cheaply, more efficiently or to a higher quality using new methods.

Professor Richard Susskind’s forthcoming treatise The End of Lawyers? is to be published in June by Oxford University Press. In six extracts published recently in Times Online he gives us a taste of his updated thinking and asks us to help him finish the new book!