The Typewriter, The Phonograph Record, And The Practice And Business Of Law

Remember these?

Remember these?

At Bloomberg BNA, we often talk about how the Bloomberg Law platform enables our users to leverage technology, data and analytics, and AI to change the way they practice law and engage in the business of law. We are not alone. A number of companies innovating in the legal space are developing tools that they contend will alter in some fundamental ways how lawyers work.

As part of our rollout of a new Bloomberg Law search and interface this month, I’ve been speaking with a number of law firm leaders and their clients about how we are changing the way people work in the legal market. And as I say it more and more, I feel the need to hold myself accountable. It is a bold statement to say that your company and others are changing an industry for the better, and without specific examples, it sounds a bit grandiose and superficial. I wonder how such lofty phrasing sounds to attorneys who have been busy doing deals and litigating cases for the last 15 years. To someone so close to their work, change can be difficult to perceive. That’s true even when growth is happening fast. An analogy is an adolescent who doesn’t feel that much taller when her birthday comes around, but when her mom measures her against the kitchen wall, everyone can see the progress.

So for anyone inclined to dismiss folks like me who talk about the changing practice of law (I remember recording my time in a red, hardcover diary as a first-year associate, so I can always point to that), let’s get out a ruler and see where we’re at. Consider these five specific examples of how the practice and business of law have truly changed over the last 10 years:

  1. Selecting outside counsel: Once upon a time, corporate clients chose their counsel primarily on the basis of pre-existing relationships. If you were on the outside looking in, your firm might get lucky to participate in a beauty contest. And yes, a decade ago corporate clients had the guidance of Chambers and…

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