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Regulators must promote “disruptive” innovations in legal services, OECD

18 May 2016 - By James Greenland

Governments and professional authorities should advocate for amendments to legal regulations that reflect current market realities and ensure market access for pro-competitive disruptive innovations, an issues paper by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development urges. 

"Despite traditional resistance to change in legal professions, pro-competitive "disruptive" innovations are beginning to transform legal services and the manner in which they are delivered," says the author of the paper, which was prepared for an OECD international Working Party on Competition and Regulation. Read it here.

New service models and products include the creation of online will-making, the outsourcing of litigation support tasks, "virtual" legal service delivery, automated legal document drafting, and more - including the increasing use in overseas jurisdictions.of non-lawyer advocates such as 'McKenzie friends'.

The paper identifies three "disruptive" trends that will continue to increasingly affect the way legal services are delivered, and calls for regulatory and productivity authorities to consider how best to regulate the "radical transformation" of legal service delivery.

Advances in communication technology, the "democratisation of knowledge" and fee pressure – clients demanding 'more for less' from lawyers – together have potential to make a significant "pro-competitive impact on legal services markets", the paper states.

"As a result of these innovations and the new competition they bring, the regulatory framework in which legal professionals operate is under pressure.

"The exclusivity enjoyed by legal professionals, and the precise scope of activities to which it applies, is becoming unclear as unlicensed entrants offer a widening range of services."

Last updated on the 18th May 2016