The legal industry is undergoing a change process that is both dynamic and exciting, though many of its legacy stakeholders are reluctant to see it as such. The term “New Law” has been embraced as the catchall nomenclature for startups, law firm subsidiaries and other companies, both big and small, that are augmenting traditional legal services with an array of innovative offerings. This new focus on value creation, risk mitigation and synergies is being fueled by an unprecedented level of collaboration between legal service providers and the businesses and societies they serve.
As a result, law’s role is evolving from a primarily service-oriented, reactive response to a proactive partner and advisor that seeks to transform legal operations into a strategic business function that enables its clients to achieve their desired outcomes. This evolution has created a need for a new kind of legal talent that is more flexible, collaborative and creative than ever before. This new legal worker has the potential to revolutionize the way we practice law and drive value for both the legal profession and its clients.
But what does new law look like? Unfortunately, the answer depends on who you ask. The change is taking place mainly through two principal sources: (1) large-scale legal buyer activism and (2) corporate Goliaths with the brand, capital, know-how, customer-centricity, technology platforms, agile, multidisciplinary workforces and footprint in/familiarity with the legal industry to disrupt the existing paradigm and become a law new player.
This new approach to legal help is akin to the transformation that many industries have gone through in recent years. For example, in the consumer market, companies that sell personal care products have been forced to change their ways by putting more transparency into how much their employees earn. The new laws are designed to make it easier for job seekers to figure out what salaries they can expect to be offered.
Laws are also changing at the local and state levels, with cities imposing a variety of new measures including penalties for selling force-fed products, requiring open captioning in movie theaters, and creating an online database for police shooting data. Laws are being drafted by both the public and private sector, with an emphasis on innovation and efficiency.
The city of Syracuse recently passed a new law that requires employers to post pay ranges for jobs in public spaces, and it’s part of a larger effort to promote gender equity. The new law could have far-reaching effects, as it’s expected to encourage other companies in the region to do the same and pressure the state to pass similar legislation. The legislation is one of a number that have been enacted in California this year, with more on the way.