Well, at least six in-house counsel weigh in on the topic. Certainly the views expressed only touch upon some of the “key future trends” for the legal profession in the “brief advice” section of LexisNexis’ Spring issue of Counsel to Counsel.

The in-house counsel include:

  • Ryan A. Marrone, General Counsel, Heller Industrial Parks, Inc.
  • Jason M. Romrell, General Counsel, ITSOL, Inc.
  • Andrew Ong, Vice President, Markets, Legal, Nokia Corp.
  • Maciej Ozdowski, Legal Director, Colgate-Palmolive Company
  • Lori Varaich, General Counsel, LDR, Inc.
  • David R. Boyko, Legal Director, Office of General Counsel, Merck & Co., Inc.

I found the advice interesting, and a little bit surprising when it came to the emphasis by two each on the subjects of social media and alternative billing. Here are the five key trends gleaned from their brief comments:

  1. Outsourcing will be on the rise to avoid the “nickel-and-dime approach” of many firms, and a bonanza for global firms who are well-versed in American law and “amenable to a client’s needs;”
  2. Particularly in the current economic downturn, alternative fees “enables both law firm and client to better eliminate the uncertainty and unpredictability of legal costs based solely on the billable hour;”
  3. The use of social media will increase contact with clients, even though it has “its share of land mines, …it needs to be understood and properly embraced;”
  4. Using technology to optimize services, such as legal opinions, trademark advice, and reviewing documents by virtual law firms; and
  5. Providing free substantive (vs. “marketing puff”) Webinars for clients.

I’m not sure how representative these lawyers are as to future trends, but it seems that law firms that don’t pay attention to their comments, do so at their own peril. So, listen up!