‘Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book’. This quote is attributed to Cicero, the great advocate of the early Roman era, from the collection of his speeches to juries in murder trials, although I imagine the translation is rather loose. It does, however, indicate that the human race has felt change and disruption for over 2000 years and practicing lawyers are in the midst of either elation at the boundless new opportunities or being frozen in a neo-luddite terror in the face of disruption to the legal and corporate services market by legal process outsourcing, the dawn of artificial intelligence and continued threat from multi-disciplinary partnerships.1
In this ‘we’ I include both private practice lawyers and general counsel, although the opportunities of general counsel in this environment are probably greater than the threats. This is the era of ‘decomposition’ of legal services where the integrated (and leveraged) service model of external law firms is being ‘unpicked’ such that different tasks are being undertaken by different legal service providers and in some cases, by computer programs driven by artificial intelligence.