The Legal profession is continuously facing an increasing number of challenges to its traditional and operational practices. The changes in the global economy are potentially bringing favorable advantages to those well equipped with new technology such as social media. However, many law firms are now finding an alternative business structure, a reduction of price pressure cannot guarantee their mid-term survival. Anti-money laundering laws are also a big factor which need careful consideration before accepting client’s case. Despite all the hurdles and difficulties, opportunities for legal professionals always paramount. However, the legal profession demands high standard of service and an updated legal knowledge and skills, such as effective use of social media. In addition, court precedents and new statutory changes after “Brexit” and the status of EU laws or position of articles and regulations in UK. Scottish legal system based on common law and statutes which known as “hybrid”. We will discuss potential new opportunities and those already exist. Scotland’s legal market is obviously less profitable than the English market, and slowly recovering from the so-called “Recession” which badly affected the foreign investment. Also, recently fall in oil prices has triggered a decline in profits from sea oil and having a significant impact on Scotland. Therefore, the legal profession continually under some pressure and has faced certain challenges as with other businesses. Especially for the new lawyers, it is hard to find out traineeship since law firms are under economic pressure, due to certain reasons such as legal aid cuts, new technology, and “Brexit” which affected mostly intellectual property cases. After Brexit UK lawyers may have no access to ECJ . The legal profession is also a business like other businesses. It must respond to changing circumstances in their businesses, this means to fascinate new changes, take advantage of new business innovations and opportunities, overcome and tackle developing problems to stay ahead of its competitors. Of course, law firms must negotiate if they want to flourish in one of the global economy’s most competitive sectors. Moreover, issues connected to post “Brexit”. There will be some advantages and challenges for the legal professionals soon after “Brexit” such as commercial, immigration, intellectual property rights, transfer of business or subsidiary companies and their future in UK and status of EU laws post “Brexit”. However, in the long-term, there could be serious economic impacts on law firms and other businesses due to the uncertainty of relationship between UK and EU countries. Additionally, Scottish legal professionals might face difficulties beyond the boundaries of Scotland to deal with the infringers of copyright and trademark rights and jurisdiction issues because after “Brexit” they are not sure what status would be of current statutes and laws which made by the (EU) member states.
In this essay, we will analyse further short-term and long-term opportunities available for legal professionals and challenges which they might face in future, such as cuts of legal aid budgets; challenges for lawyers; effective use of social media; some alternative ways to deal with the legal cost such as “no win no fee.”
In addition, we will discuss here, how recent changes can open new doors and opportunities for legal professionals and how they can overcome hurdles such as legal aid, cost, and jurisdiction issues and take advantage or organise their businesses accordingly. Also, we will discuss how legal firms need to be equipped and trained their staff with social media such as LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Twitter, Email, Facebook, Instagram, an online advice, etc…… and what possible opportunities of new lawyers in this busy and demanding field as a traineeship. Social media sites are becoming an essential part, which people now used for communication. These sites now used by a huge number of legal professionals for their personal and business capacity.
Let’s move on now to discuss challenges first, which legal professionals may face in the future.
Innovations in Legal Industry. (Alternative Business structure)
The legal profession remains facing an increasing number of challenges to its old-style operating practices. The global economy and economic activities are changing. However, bringing potentially favourable projections to those legal partnerships controlled and take benefit of the upturn in profitable activity. Moreover, for many law businesses, the introduction of Alternative Business Structure (ABS), pricing burden, effective use of fee earners, poor investment in infrastructure schemes and the on-going need to reduce costs, means that their medium-term existence is not certain. To understand and act accordingly on these changes would be a big challenge in this era. Law firms must accept this challenge if they want to compete with their opponents and survive in the legal profession.
Mergers of Law firms. (LLPs)
The rapid changing in the business industry and their urgent legal requirements, legal sector mergers are inevitable; because of this action, many law firms (mostly small firms) have now have disappeared from the scene in recent years. However, four big law firms of Scotland have also disappeared and many small firms have merged with others . There is a prediction that more merges will happen in the Scotland and rest of the UK for the next 10 years, as this is happening in the world-wide. Some English firms have also expanded their businesses in other parts of the country such as Tompson’s Solicitors have opened their branches in Scotland and England. It means new professionals can avail these opportunities to get traineeship and enhance their legal knowledge. However, there are potential for paid jobs as well.
A substantial cut into legal aid.
A big challenge for the legal professionals is legal aid cut which had badly impacted on their services to their clients. Generally, in Scotland, three major ways to fight criminal or civil cases in the court are legal aid, free help if you have a union membership, legal advice with home insurance policies. Legal aid is the best way to provide legal support and access to justice for people in need but legal aid continues to get reduction across Scotland. It creates a big disaster in the Scottish legal system where most people involved in criminal and family litigation, they cannot afford heavy fesses of experienced lawyers. They rely on “no win no fee” where a substantial part of the claim goes into the lawyer’s pocket. A recent survey of Scottish lawyers shows that 78 percent legal aid cuts badly affected the poor part of the society. Lorna Jack , chief executive of the Law Society, said: “The legal aid system is designed to be available to everyone who is eligible, however, there have been cuts to expenditure year after year which are just not sustainable in the long run. She further said: “The legal aid system is already under strain, and yet it was announced last December that the government’s budget allocation for legal aid would be £126.1m for 2016-17, a £10 million decrease on the previous year and lower than the total expenditure on legal assistance two decades ago.” In addition to that legal aid still has a significant impact, not only on certain types of legal areas such as immigration, divorce and dissolution, family, employment, criminal and civil matters. Also, a significant life-changing effect on the pursuers of justice (clients) who can no longer be depending on it. Some big and well-reputed law firms not accepting the legal aid cases because the fee is not covering their expenses. There could be a chance and opportunity for the new lawyers and small firms to do the low paid jobs and increase their businesses. However, they can accept this challenge and create opportunities for themselves.
Development in outsourcing.
The law firms can improve their business through the frequent address of developers in the Legal Process outsourcing business and the potential for the outsourcing of legal sector directions is yet huge. We’re seeing firms outsourcing immense measures of work to different nations for more significant competencies. The advantage of this process to save money and time because the legal actions are time-consuming and costly, therefore the firms can use this effective way to control wastage of money and time. In addition to that laws are different in every country, so, it is a requirement that a local expertise deal with the case for a positive outcome. The major problem may occur breach of confidentiality of the client. This is an important issue in the legal outsourcing process. However, this could be tackled with a strong contract term which clearly shows how to share confidential information of the client to a third party.
Fixed fee demands.
The hourly rate is being beaten by more smart types of evaluating credited to approval. Stephen Gold gave an impressive case of a £650 every hour legal advisor conceivably giving counsel worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to a customer inside one hour and sticking to simply £650 if the feeing game plan was so resolute. Instead of the hourly rate fixed fee more attractive to potential clients, those who cannot afford the heavy fee. Legal professionals must ready to tackle, and ready to compete with their competitors. To compete with, legal professionals require to accept client’s demand for a fixed fee, otherwise, their survival would be difficult in this competitive industry.
Advocates vs Solicitors.
Advocates in Scotland are going up against Solicitors for more kinds of legal work. It is important numerous solicitors advocates still depend on solicitors and paralegals as their principal source of referrals. In Scotland, most advocates and solicitor advocates have no direct connection with their clients, they advise their client through the solicitor. Of course, they fight their case in the court and prior to that they hold some meeting with a client in the presence of their solicitor. This is a great opportunity for a new solicitor to get the benefit of the well-experienced law expert. But they must keen to learn new technology as well to improve their skills and help effectively their potential clients. The major failure area of legal professionals is reluctant of accepting new technology because they want to do work on traditional way which is now costlier and time consuming. However, they must change their behaviour as legal professionals to compete within the legal industry.
The relationship within the firm.
Although the basic purpose of legal professionals to provide legal advice and support to their client, a big challenge for them to establish a good working relationship with the firm where they work. They must sensitive about the confidentiality of the firm and colleagues. A peaceful environment could bring not only the success of the firm but increase the reputation of the legal profession as well. Any breach of trust and confidentiality can ruin their career. Through this strategy they can overcome and manage conflict, personal stress, also, the balance between business and personal survives.
The requirement of potential clients.
In the current scenario, clients are now more sophisticated. They are demanding more flexible and approachable methods of services, where they can seek legal assistance and access to justice. However, they are using other methods of non-qualified lawyer’s services as well such as paralegal, online legal documents, and sites which they think helpful for them with a small cost. These services effectively reduce the cost burden on them. However, they compromise the quality of service which a professional and skilled lawyer can provide. As for the cost of legal services on the rise , therefore, it’s the core responsibility of the lawyers to provide an affordable service to their client. Otherwise, clients are forced to find alternative methods which mentioned above to reduce the cost. It is a big challenge for the legal professionals to provide an excellent service within the limited budget to survive.
An Alternative Business Structure.
The legal services Act was introduced in 2007 and (ABS) allowed non-legal professionals or firm to own and invest money in legal practice. Currently, a huge number of (ABS) approved by the solicitor regulation authority UK. These (ABS) such as BT, Capita, The Cooperative Bank, and Direct line. As a result, this new business structure caused some advantage and potential risks. For instance, some other professionals and non-lawyers are promoted as partners which enable firms to attract an external talent having good skills in commercial activities of the firm. It may not possible within the hierarchy of the traditional law firms. Moreover, partnerships (law firms) can extend their services or offer “one-stop shop” model to expand their business. However, firms must bear in mind the disadvantages of this structure as well, because non-law professionals can cause problems and potentially damage the reputation of the firm such as risk assessment, breach of confidentiality, and management relationship. This ABS method can benefit potential clients and they have a wider choice of cherry-picking the most useful and experienced individual for their immediate needs.
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