A law graduate (and businessman) has recently been in touch to ask the following question:
“What areas of law will be busy over the next 5-20 years in the light of trends such as Alternative Business Structures, Artificial Intelligence, etc.?”
The following advice is probably about as accurate as a prediction from a clairvoyant, but here goes!
I cannot see any particular area of law being busy or otherwise. Most commercial law arises out of either being involved in the regulation of an action, thing or substance or the contractual relationship between two parties. I know that a lot of law students get very excited when they hear the words “sports law” or “media law” but the reality is that even these somewhat exciting sounding areas of law are actually very droll and quite humdrum. Afterall, if you think it through, what is sports law going to be? Exciting? Fun? Nope. Its the contractual arrangement between sportsmen/women and their employers. You definitely will not be running round a football pitch being tackled by Wayne Rooney.
Artifical intelligence is rumoured to be taking over the world and provide everyone with cheaper options than humans. So anyone wanting to see a commercial solicitor could in future speak to a webcam, specify what advice was needed and a robot could put together a contract and email it out to them. No need for any human interaction and shedloads of cash to be made if you can get such a system to work.
Advances in the law do not necessarily mean that things change though. The deregulation of the legal profession hasn’t yet led to any mad rush for clients to ditch their solicitors and get advice from ABS businesses practising law. After all why would it? If I want to get quality advice on an issue that is important to me I am not going to be too keen to instruct the cheapest professionals, although I may be tempted if the price is ridiculously lower.
Commercial law is likely to develop in some new areas – I suspect there is going to be a huge shortage of solicitors with EU and competition law experience for at least the next 5-6 years. After this – who knows? Commercial property is very quiet at the moment, and we have heard rumours of city law firms trying to complete as many corporate deals as possible in case everything goes belly up.
So the short and long answer is – I haven’t really got a clue. I know this has taken a few paragraphs to get to the point, but without these I would not have had an article to post…
Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment.