Much of the conversation has been on the impact of technology on the delivery of legal services and the changes that the profession will undergo in the coming years. Extremely relevant points have been made and discussed in both the partner meetings and blogs, demonstrating that the firm is live to the evolution that the profession is undergoing. One aspect that has been somewhat more on the periphery has been the societal changes behind the push for transformation.
I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Canadian Elder Law Conference this past week and gain a better understanding of the practical realities that are facing the profession in light of a shifting demographic. For the first time in Canadian history, the percentage of the population over 65 is greater than the population under 15. While we have been focusing largely on the increase in technology that the profession has at its fingertips, there are a growing number of potential clients that will inevitably need our services but may not understand the technology we will be employing. This requires those of us that will be working with elders to appreciate the impact of technology on this growing demographic.
I do not dispute that a willingness to innovate is going to be essential, nor do I suggest that those 65+ are incapable of using or appreciating technology. I do think, however, that as we seek to integrate new methods and technologies that we take into consideration the impact that may have on our clients. Creating more affordable services will greatly benefit our senior clients and, as the baby boomers get set for retirement, this portion of the population will be facing a society that is increasingly more tech savvy.
We must be sure to balance our reliance on technology with the very personal service that our aging clientele has become accustomed to. It cannot be our approach to either assume our client understands technology or require them to familiarize themselves with it in order to benefit from an affordable service. Nor should we assume that technology will be able to replace the personal aspect of our profession, such as the interview in which a lawyer conducts an assessment for testamentary capacity. It is this personal interaction that sets us apart from machines such as IBM’s Watson. And it is this interaction that clients appreciate, along with getting the job done for a fair price.
How can we balance our growing use of technology with an aging population?