By Chris Fong, KorumLegal

Our time is unprecedented. During these short few years, the world has undoubtedly experienced a lot. We are being hit by the current pandemic which is severely affecting businesses and taking precious lives all around the globe. The superpowers have found their unique battlefield for the “New Cold War”. Brexit has finally been historically settled, or has at least proceeded to the next stage. The world seems to have moved away from elitism and leaned more towards populism. Hong Kong is seeing the greatest civil unrest ever since the Handover and its impact would inevitably be much greater than the historic Occupy Central Movement. Geopolitics and climatic determinism suggest our world would no longer be the one we have known for centuries. Then, why should legal education be the same? Or maybe one should really ask, how could legal education remain unchanged over dynamic decades of fluctuations? To a certain extent, is our “modern” system practised in a parallel universe?

Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy: A Polemic Against the System by THE Professor Duncan Kennedy is frequently found on the compulsory reading list for first year law students. His article heavily criticises legal education as essentially a tool to reproduce the legal hierarchy. Its first sentence reads, “Law schools are intensely political places despite the fact that the modern law school seems intellectually unpretentious, barren of theoretical ambition or practical vision of what social life might be.” After almost 4 decades since its publication, these seem to still hold today. Law students are taught to challenge the status quo and push for legal reforms. We are taught to think as legalists, the progressivists of civilisation. We shall, surely, fight for access to justice, fairness and equality. (Some of the phrases used by Kennedy include “socially constructive”, “progressive force”, “help the oppressed” and “transform society”). Therefore, your top priority at University should be to outperform your classmates, so you can get good internships in the prestigious international firms and, hopefully, secure a training contract. We are essentially taught that the hierarchy our modern legal education reproduces equates professionalism. When you have your place in the hierarchy, you talk about justice, that is if you still remember…

This legal hierarchy comes with expensive costs and highly complicated language, to demonstrate lawyers’ professionalism and superiority, and in turn to justify the well-earned bills. Consequently, law schools, while preaching on the contrary, reproduce the ancient hierarchy that secures justice inaccessibility. However, this does not necessarily mean the world has to adopt it. In fact, such a model is proved to be more and more unrealistic in the mind of businesses. Customers focus on value instead of the hours engaged by lawyers. There will always be, at least in the foreseeable future, cases that require specialised litigants and counsels for complex technical legal issues. On the other hand, there are also matters that are less risky or are highly repetitive in nature. Accessibility could only be truly understood when we put ourselves into the customer’s perspective. When struggling (or any really) businesses could not engage with traditional law firms, it does not mean they could not comply with the law, with the help from innovative technology, flexible pricing and targeted services.

After the Global Financial Crisis, we could see an upward trend for businesses looking for alternative legal services providers in oppose to traditional law firms. This is expected to be compounded as operation revives after the current pandemic. Concepts such as NewLaw, which is a term hardly heard in law schools, resonate well with these customers. NewLaw companies streamline the process in providing legal services to promote efficiency and cost-savings. Among other tools and software, technology (like artificial Intelligence) are also used. Such revolution, with real progress, may be the viable alternative for us to move away from the normative legal hierarchy towards legal accessibility.

W: https://www.korumlegal.com

Related Articles by Firm
"You can’t manage what you don’t measure"
….so said a General Counsel in a recent discussion we had about the use of data in their legal department.
More for less, more for less, read all about it!
A summary of some of the actions GCs are taking in order to turn their challenges into opportunities ...
Diversity in the workplace
Make 2020 the year of real change.
The hidden benefit of using your inbox for legal project management
How to keep the flexibility of inbox management while getting rid of the poor visibility and control.
Is it time for a leadership check?
Covid-19 is making us re-evaluate the tools we use, the way we lead and is bringing our truest values to the forefront.
Resilience and opportunity – Your survival mindset
Covid-19 is going to force change upon all of us, acting as a catalyst for adjustments to our personal and professional lives.
Use the "crisis cycle" of coronavirus to pivot your legal practice for the better
We can take this opportunity to embrace and drive change.
Contracts – Why can't we make this process more efficient?
Contracts have been around for centuries. So, why is it that it remains a long, protracted, tedious and inefficient process?
The legal operating model – five key insights
Examining the combination of roles, skills, structures, processes, assets and technologies that allow an organisation to deliver on its strategy.
Three “must have” legal solutions to reduce costs and increase value
External forces are requiring business leaders to consider political, social and environmental impacts.
Adding value – A consultant's perspective
Adapting to the client's changing needs is at the core of the role.
Navigating a looming recession: Five strategies to prepare you for the storm clouds
The most common risk-mitigation strategies that legal teams take when facing a downturn in the market.
Investing in uncertain times is not a paradox, it is a solution
Redesigning legal processes can deliver efficiency gains of between 15% and 50%.
Three key skills I wish I'd been taught in my law degree
Legal educators must arm graduates with the tools needed to embark on their legal journey.
Are you optimising project management skills in your legal department?
Because you should! We all need to upscale our skillset in areas of people, process and technology.
NewLaw takes-off in Southeast Asia
Rob Shakespeare of KorumLegal discusses the market for flexible and innovative legal solutions in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions ...
Don’t suffer FOMO* for Southeast Asia LegalTech!
Avoid the 'fear of missing out' by embracing the incredible opportunities technology offers.
Accessing new markets in APAC – Essential questions you must ask!
New market opportunities in this region are immense, but there are challenges.
How technology drives managed legal services
Managed legal services are an increasing area of focus for consumers and are starting to make significant inroads into Asia and APAC.
Creating value in law. Is it time to Stop, Collaborate and Listen?
To ensure that we’re creating excellence, we need to think, without distraction, of the bigger picture.
Payments regulatory landscape in APAC: Six things to be aware of
Important considerations for payment service providers operating in Asia Pacific.
A journey from traditional working practices to a flexible workplace
Policies that let employees work remotely can improve productivity and reduce staff turnover.
Innovation in legal services: What it is and how we do it
To begin the innovation journey, we should first understand what we are talking about.
Managed legal services: part of a new paradigm for the legal solutions market
The emergence of alternative legal solutions is giving clients a lot more choice.
Your first 10 days as a legal consultant
The challenges facing legal consultants are unique and require a different set of skills to other employees.
Nobody's got time for that! General counsel and legaltech
How to overcome the lack of time, resources and knowhow needed to implement technology solutions.
Law as a process
How process design defines value, delivers efficiency and drives business strategy.
Lifting the veil on payments
Payments companies need to understand and comply with many complex laws and regulations.
Do you have what it takes? Successful, flexible careers for lawyers
KorumLegal takes a look at the type of lawyers and consultants it works with and the appeal of NewLaw.
Related Articles
Data collection and early case assessment for investigations
Data collection and analysis for investigations is very different to collection for discovery or review. This article discusses the differences; how Early Case Assessment (ECA) can assist and the benefits of using review technology ...
Breakthroughs in Vietnam’s securities market
Since the first promulgation of the law on securities in 2006, Vietnam’s securities market has experienced dramatical growth (roughly twentyfold in market capitalisation) ...
The rooster is on the run
The pursuit of happiness has been an inalienable right, at least in the United States, since July 4, 1776 when it originated as an “unalienable” right in the Declaration of Independence ...
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Latest Articles
Data Privacy in Malaysia
DFDL’s William Greenlee sets out the data protection regulatory framework in Malaysia and its recent developments ...
Cross-border transfer of personal financial information in China
Jingtian & Gongcheng partners Yuan Lizhi, Hu Ke and associate Wang Beining take us through the details of the regulatory framework ...
Amendments to three data privacy laws in Korea and the implications
By Kwang-Wook Lee, Helen H. Hwang, Chulgun Lim and Keun Woo Lee of Yoon & Yang ...