Mid October, CSI participated for the 5th time VQ Forum in Stockholm. It was the last time VQ Forum was organized, but during the last ten years it has become an important legal tech event. This year, the main topic was “Law 2.0”, and the speakers covered e.g. digital transformation of the legal industry, current status of the digitalization process as well as the future of legal services.
How has the legal industry changed?
At the time of the first VQ Forum event, the economic downturn struck and raised various speculations about development of the legal industry - how technology would replace lawyers and the traditional business model with its hierarchy and assisting lawyers would disappear. As we now know, nothing radical happened. When looking back at the turnover and growth of established law firms, mergers, new entrants, and the number of assisting lawyers per partner, according to Christian Sandström, professor at Chalmers, the trend even seems the opposite. He pointed out that there are too many affecting factors to make a reliable forecast for the legal industry as a whole, but at least the change does not seem to happen at the speed we were thinking.
Listen to the customer
Friedrich Blase, an experienced lawyer and the founder of the "Un-Firm" concept, said that the legal industry has so far failed to seize opportunities to transform its core business. One of them was the recession which, however, resulted only in superficial changes. He advised not to wait for the next recession to get things going, but to take the next step now by actively thinking about new, customer-friendly models to provide legal services.
EQT’s Lena Almefelt who purchases legal services, also said in a panel discussion that law firms should evolve by learning to listen to their clients' needs. At the moment, she turns to different types of suppliers (traditional and non-traditional law firms and technology suppliers) based on where she gets the most efficient delivery. However, she would prefer to use only one vendor to solve things efficiently, for example, by utilizing technology for simple tasks.
Change as the default
Tobias Ahlin talked about the importance of staying out of your comfort zone and the mindset required to anticipate change. By staying unchanged for too long a law firm gives others an opportunity to bypass with their new ideas. Therefore, change should not be seen as a one-off phenomenon, but as a continuous process of systematically developing and testing new ideas. For example, the game industry is good at testing new things in a small group before spreading them to all customers. Thus, decisions made at the management team level are implemented in the way that has proven to be the best in the tests, resulting in more satisfied customers.
The lawyer of the future
Therese Järnankar, Norstedts Juridik, reported the results of a Future Lawyer Survey, which in 2019 involved over 3,500 lawyers in Sweden and Denmark. More than half of the respondents considered the industry to be conservative and saw the need to develop lawyer training to prepare students for the upcoming technological reality in working life. At the same time, it turned out that younger (aged 23-39) ambitious and hard-working lawyers are looking for a job that offers the opportunity to achieve a good work-life balance. These are signs that the industry will face certain changes as the next generation of lawyers enters the workforce.
These were just some of the insights we got at the VQ Forum. In a way, a lot has happened in the legal industry during the last years, and law firms are doing better than ever. New working methods have been adapted and digital tools acquired to support the work. At the same time, however, the traditional model of legal services remains unchanged - based on hourly rates and without efficiency development. Changing direction is not an instant matter, especially in the long-standing law firm. We are following the change and hope to be a part of it for our current and future clients.
On behalf of the entire CSI team, we would still like to thank Helena and Anna for the nice and informative events we have enjoyed over the years. This year's VQ Forum and its Gala Dinner will be remembered for a long time. We are also looking forward to the direction in which the event will develop next year under the leadership of Norstedt Juridik and wish the new organizers good luck.
Jannina (Janni) Fagerström
CSI Helsinki, Product Specialist
A language nerd who is motivated by helping others and working together towards a common goal. Gets inspired by social get-togethers, home decorating projects and food.