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What Is a Lawyer in the Modern World?

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Being a lawyer is not what it used to be.

A generation ago, lawyers typically researched the law in a library and met clients in private offices. They drafted contracts or went to court. But all of that has changed.

Today, algorithms research the law and smart programs draft contracts. Attorneys meet clients in shared suites, virtual offices, coffee houses, and even over the internet. They still go to court, if that includes telephonic appearances.

But what is the modern lawyer really, and is that you?

New Skills

In the big law picture, everything has changed. Except for ornamental purposes, law books are basically gone. You do not want to be one of those.

To keep up, tech-savvy lawyers use programs and apps to suit their practice area. To be more effective, they employ interactive voice-enabled digital assistants.

And in the economic and technological evolution, the lawyer has become a different person. The best ones, J. Stephen Poor writes for BigLaw Business, focus on being human.

"(W)e must focus on the quintessentially human characteristics -- insight, relationships, empathy, the ability to see connections and on and on -- at the core of the profession.

Old Skills

Smart programs do legal research and review documents in nanoseconds. As they take those jobs from lawyers, legal service providers and their robots are closing in on human practitioners.

"In short, as we peel off tasks from lawyers, we need to look at the business problem from the clients' perspective -- not the firm's perspective -- and understand how to design solutions that solve those problems," Poor says.

A "lawyer" has to be a guide to alternatives in providing legal services. But the advocate still needs good human skills, like communication and leadership, to become even better in the future.

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