In the ancient days a lawyer was meant to argue and present the case of his client before the court of law. This was the main area of practise for lawyer. Over a period of time, lawyers have divided the areas of practise into litigation and non-litigation. Further, upon the constitution of many tribunals (quasi-judicial), the areas of practise in litigation were further divided as lawyers could not have reach to all the courts and tribunal and non-litigation is ever evolving field.
Now and moving forward:-
Since, the last decade, the lawyer's profession has changed 360 degrees. The global changes and rapid changes in Indian economy have resulted in dynamic changes in the legal profession.
A lawyer is not restricted to only practice before the court, he also has many other options such as In-house lawyer, transactional lawyers, Compliance lawyer etc. Due to increase in complexities in the Indian economic environment, the specialization in each sector has become more of a means to an end. The kind of industries which are evolving in India and foreign Companies entering into India for setting up businesses and due to non-existence of many laws , regulations and polices either governing these industries requirements or regulating these changes have made the lawyer change from having a customary approach to a more pragmatic approach.
A lawyer's role changes as he changes his option from practicing law to becoming an In-house lawyer. Today, the role of the in house lawyer as well expectations from those lawyers has increased tenfold such that they are being treated more like business partners. Besides litigation, their job is to take care of drafting, documentation, part of Company's acquisitions and mergers, interacting with the various statutory bodies and complying with the various rules and regulations while all the time treading the fine line of the law. Being business partners, they are not only expected to give advice but also able to take risks, which is an essential element for a business to grow. Lawyers these days are expected to contribute to the bottom line of the company by providing legal advice that gels with the company's business. It not only reduces the burden of cost of the company but, also provides for the best optimal legal solution with a legally compliant structure through which the chances of potential litigation are reduced and even if disputes do arise, the same is handled in the most effective manner.
If he chooses to work in a law firm, the expectation from him would be that of a Business Development Manager, to develop the niche areas of practise and serve the client in the best possible manner with timely and effective resolution of his queries. In the highly competitive market, the new age lawyer is certainly facing the challenges to manage the various facets while providing the professional services. His role is not just about giving legal advice anymore.
Impact of Technology and expectation:-
Technology is playing a major role in the legal profession as well. The customary style of practising law has almost become redundant as it is heavily impacted by the introduction of technology in the field of law. In the earlier day's lawyers use to search for judgements and laws for many many hours considering the volume of books and period to cover but in today's time at the click of a button same work can be performed with more efficiency and accuracy. Contract management softwares have significantly reduced the time for drafting and negotiating the contracts and with less human intervention. Through the virtual data room, due diligence process has become speedy and it helps the Companies during merger and acquisitions. Monitoring of legal cases use to happen through making manual sheets and same work now is being monitored through software.
With ever changing Technology and the diversity in area of practise, lawyers have no choice but to change with time and adopt new tricks of the trade if they don't want to be left behind. Today while the clients approach lawyers, most of the time they are well prepared with the help technology which is instantly available to help them. They would like to know something extra which is not easily available that is called human capital which is a know-how of an individual lawyer which needs to be used judicially and well supported. As a new age lawyer we are not only expected to provide legal aid or look at transactions from a legal standpoint, but, also give advice on its commercial viability bearing in mind the global as well as Indian Policies . In the language of the Client it's called "wearing the business hat."
Yet to come is on its way:-
Many of us have not foreseen the speed of change in the legal profession or the speed at which technology has moved this profession up the ladder. So though many of the things are yet to see the day light, but I as a professional would like to put my imaginary vision in front of you where the future is all about walking with technology, where even the legal profession will have E Courts wherein you are not required to remain present in court physically, all the pleadings would be signed and submitted digitally by the Clients and the Lawyer. All the Contracts would be drafted and prepared by through automation which will make lawyers extinct. All the advices would be given to the Clients through video chat and massages virtually on real time basis which would ultimately be the cause of death of Conventional lawyer. In a way technology could also play the devils role and create disruption by reducing the employment opportunity in long run, but only time will tell how this works out.
Therefore, to conclude, it seems highly probable that the new generation of lawyers will be more tech savvy, and the same will take them a long way and differentiate them from the Conventional lawyer.
1 Enchiridion Publication by Legasis Edition 2016
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