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Legal Hybrid

The End of Lawyers? The Legal Hybrid is Already Here

February 17, 2009

Reading Richard Susskind’s book the End of Lawyers I identify myself as already being the sort of lawyer Susskind suggests will become increasingly multi-disciplinary in order to succeed.

Susskind describes us as ‘legal hybrids’ and quite different to the lawyers of today who already claim they are deeply steeped in neighbouring disciplines, as project managers, strategy and management consultants, market experts, deal-brokers, and more.  As Susskind puts it

“these forays into other fields are not strategically conceived, formally planned, or supported by rigorous training.  They are rather ad hoc and piecemeal initiatives.  In contrast, legal hybrids of the future will be superbly schooled and genuinely expert in these related disciplines and will be able to extend the range of the services they provide in a way that adds value for clients.”

The future is already here and I am one of the new breed of intellectual property and internet lawyer who is ‘superbly schooled and genuinely expert” in the related field in which I work, namely internet marketing and branding.

How did I get here?  I first became intensely interested in the internet when I was doing my Masters in law at Queen Mary and Westfield’s Commercial Law Unit.  There was such a buzz in the Technology course I was doing, and that is where I first heard about the internet.  That was 1996.  I immediately went home and told my husband about it (he has his own software consultancy business).  We downloaded software and were soon set up and able to surf on the web.

The internet has come a long way since those early days, and my interest in it has continued and grown.  The subject is also very relevant to the areas of the law in which I specialise because doing business online brings into question your trade mark, branding and domain names.  As with so many other areas of business, the internet introduces subtle differences to the advice you would offer to someone doing business offline, and so it is important for trade mark lawyers to extend their learning to encompass the differences that the internet necessarily introduces.

Having advised web designers on internet contracts, I have already acquired good general knowledge as an internet lawyer.  But the main way in which I claim to already be one of the ‘legal hybrids’ that Susskind describes is through what I have experienced and learned during the last 4 years of running my own business – Azrights – and its website, as well as through my intense interest in the internet.

I am now on my fourth website and naturally have learned a lot about websites and internet marketing along the way.  I have attended courses, read voraciously, and picked up a lot of knowledge about the internet.  What’s more I have made a strategic decision to provide internet services.  So, I fulfil all Susskind’s criteria for being the new breed of lawyer.  Over the next week I will be explaining why this matters, and what this new breed of lawyer can do for businesses going online.