This is part one of a two part blog aimed at assessing the future of the small law firm. Part one will outline questions and comments that I hope to answer in part two after conducting future research and listening to the opinions that people may have in the comments section of this post.
Although it has been an eye-opening experience to see the future of the profession and the factors at play that will affect it going forward, it seems so far the focus has been more on large, corporate structured firms. However, for myself, this left me pondering how this all could relate to a smaller firm in a smaller city (for example, rural cities in British Columbia). I am curious to know whether these smaller firms in smaller cities will be more or less affected by the innovations anticipated in the coming years. Some say that only the largest, most-established firms will be the firms that survive. However, it seems like these small firms in smaller cities charge lower rates than larger firms. Although this may be a personal intuition, I also have an understanding that some clients in cities like Vancouver outsource some of their work to these smaller firms to reduce costs, especially with the advancement of technology (for example, email, video conferencing, etc.).
With technology advancing and allowing these smaller firms access to information, services, and clients previously not available, will it make them more competitive in the future? Or, perhaps, will larger firms use technology to access these smaller markets themselves? I have read that some say the work smaller firms do will be replaced, to an extent, with software like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. However, these services seem to have been around for a while and yet clients are still forwarding the work to lawyers that could easily be done by these programs. Is it possible that people still prefer the human interaction that comes with dealing with an actual lawyer or are the programs still too new for a large consumer base to feel comfortable using them?