The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

The great disruption

September 9 2014 9 September 2014

It might not seem like a great time to be a law student, especially if you’re buried in debt and worried about an uncertain job market, but, believe me, it is.

Take some time to read this this issue and you’ll understand why.

Today’s law students stand at the cusp of changes that are transforming how legal services are delivered and how success is measured in the practice of law. Those changes are also shaking up traditional ideas about legal education.

There was a time when law schools focused almost exclusively on black letter law; unless students participated in student legal aid clinics or snagged a summer job at a firm, they didn't get any exposure to actual practice until bar ads or articles.

There were also pretty clear expectations if you went to work for a law firm. The billable hour model meant you metered out your time in six-minute increments and stressed over meeting aggressive billing targets. Making partner was the Holy Grail and the key to life-long tenure and prosperity.

Today, the legal profession is reeling from the effects of technology and globalization. There is a greater push for law students to acquire more “practical” skills, and the traditional business model is under attack. Meanwhile, technology makes it easier for lawyers to work when and how they choose, but also allows clients to find cheaper and more accessible legal services. And if you haven’t heard, you get a will now at Walmart. For $99.

Scary? Sure. But if you’re willing to shake up your own expectations of what legal practice should be, there are amazing opportunities out there. As Mitch Kowalski told our student roundtable at University of Montreal, we are entering the most disruptive period in the history of the legal profession. It’s also the most exciting time to be part of the legal profession — as long as you don’t want to be a traditional lawyer.

Find out more inside this issue.

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