The legal profession and legal services market nationally and internationally is being re-shaped by a number of significant trends: the internationalisation of legal services; organisational, technological and regulatory innovation and disruption; the persistence of a ‘buyers’ market’ for commercial legal services, and an increasing crisis in individual access to justice. In this context there is a critical need for high quality data and research into the impacts of change on the legal sector, including:
- the provision of moderately big data on the performance of the Australian legal services market;
- understanding the drivers of and barriers to innovation in legal services delivery;
- exploring the changing relationship between lawyers and clients in different sub-sectors of the market;
- enhancing access to justice through institutional and process re-design of legal service delivery, dispute resolution procedures and mechanisms.
Regulating Automated Legal Services
Julian Webb, Rachelle Bosua, Tim Miller (both Computing and Information Systems, Melbourne), Adam Lodders (MNSI) and Scott Chamberlain (ANU College of Law).
This one-year project is funded by the Melbourne Networked Society Institute (MNSI). The project will examine, through desk-based and qualitative research, the technical and regulatory barriers confronting the delivery of automated online legal services and will seek to inform the development of appropriate policy, regulation and practice settings in respect of these developments. Findings from this project will inform policy makers, regulators and practitioners about the impact and effective management of automated online legal services and how best to increase access to delivery of legal advice within an increasingly networked society. It will also provide a foundation for further projects by the research team.
Benchmarking Legal Services in Australia
Julian Webb, Andrew Godwin, Angela Melville (Flinders Law School) and James McGarvie (JD Research Assistant)
Existing data sources provide some information on demographic and market trends in the Australian legal services sector, particularly at the level of States and Territories. However, the data gathered to date has been, for the most part, relatively limited and unsophisticated, and does not provide a national picture of the state of the market. The aim of this project is to develop and test a sophisticated ‘market segmentation framework’ which will enable us to identify both broad trends and sub-sector variations in the structure and performance of the legal services market; to trace impacts of regulatory reform, and, by standardising descriptors, facilitate consistent data collection and comparison over time. The dataset created, over time, will be of increasing value to policy-makers, academics and the profession.
The key research questions for the project are both methodological and empirical:
- What key indicators should be adopted to benchmark trends in the legal services sector in Australia?
- What data already exist in respect of those indicators?
- Which gaps in the data can be filled through this research, and which should be?
- What are the key changes currently being experienced by the Australian legal professions? (The main research question, which will be the subject of the empirical research)
- Reflecting on the research, whether any of the chosen indicators in fact have limited value, and whether there are additional indicators which have/are likely to have significantly greater predictive value in identifying future trends?