Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 86 of 143

Read the magazine that launched the Law2020TM initiative online at T MINUS NINE: ONE YEAR IN by John Alber, Strategic Technology Partner at Bryan Cave LLP changes were permanent. A by John Alber 40 Peer to Peer year ago, my article “The Future Starts Now” appeared in Peer to Peer. In that article, I assessed the impact of changes in the legal marketplace that attended the Great Recession and addressed the question of whether those ILLUSTRATION BY THOMAS BOUCHER, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED the way they were in the first decade of this millennium? Will law firms recover the ability to raise rates six or eight percent a year and thereby drive profitability to the levels we saw just before the recession? Or has there been a sea change, a reset? My view today is that we have indeed experienced a reset in the legal marketplace. It is different than it was before 2009, and it will remain different. To understand why that is, let’s go back to the original article. A central point of the June 2010 article was framed this way: The Future Now Starts W e approach temporal landmarks — the turn of a millennium, a century or sometimes even a decade — rather as we approach a precipice like the Grand Canyon, feeling both exhilaration and dread. At the turn of the millennium, we encountered both extremes. These were the end-times, according to some; and the future was about to begin, according to others. Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 41 Read John’s original article in the June 2010 issue of . Both as a consequence of the Value Challenge and of the underlying dissatisfaction that necessitated it, the legal market over the last year and a half has seen a significant shift in buying habits. A number of surveys now show a sharp rise in demand for non-hours- based fee structures. A recent ACC survey reports that four out of five in-house The title to the article answered that question. In my view, we were already operating in the future. While the economy might improve, I asserted that some of the changes we’ve seen in how legal services are purchased and how they are paid for will become permanent features of the legal marketplace. Firms will rise or fall on their ability to deal effectively with that new reality. Reiterating a Significant Point It’s now 2011, and we are more than a year into the new decade. What is the evidence so far? Will things revert back to 88 Peer to Peer lawyers expressed a desire to increase their spending on alternative fee arrangements (AFAs). Companies have also accelerated already-established trends toward reducing the number of law firms approved to provide services and toward introducing purchasing disciplines (such as RFPs) into the buying process. (emphasis added) To my mind, the most significant point in the article — the one for which evidence continues to accumulate — is the bolded portion. The introduction of procurement disciplines (and let’s shift the terminology to procurement P eer t o P eer

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