Future of lawyering I - Trends of law

International Edition 23'

Philosophy and Thought


Ziad Ali, Khaled El Khashab and Dina El Saiedi

Future of lawyering I - Trends of law:

A trend is the simplest expression of what demand looks like. Thousands, if not millions or billions of people, simply demand that something be maintained or taken down in a showdown of sheer power. This power of demand, if we may call it, does not differ much from the traditional definition of demand. It only has a very distinct aspect, the rapid shift of demand, which is the very essence of a trend.

The world came a very long way from the 2008 financial crisis, and the past 14 years were almost a critical reminder of how that financial crisis' origins were poorly formed. The 2008 financial crisis proved that focusing on traditional markets is not always a safe bid and if the housing market can crash and financial institutions cannot anticipate that, then nothing is safe. I would have said that the world learned its lesson but the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic came, and along with it the test of our fragile economies, finances, and markets.

Nevertheless, there was a light to the darkness, we have seen unprecedented evolution in how trends form. It used to take almost years for a trend in fashion, industries, markets, or pretty much any trends to fade out, and today trends can die in days. If anything can be made out of this rapid shift in trends, it is that diversity is the key to the future. Hence, the future of lawyering, by default, lies in the lawyers' ability to grasp new concepts following trends.

Saying that Lawyers must follow trends to distinguish themselves is putting it poorly. In law, trends are opportunities for lawyers to make their services more appealing to today's clients. Unlike other lines of services, the mere existence of trends does not constitute a legal trend, only further adaptation will allow for the development of legal trends. To put it simply, let us take a real-life example; in Egypt, the trend of investment in financial technology flourished as of 2019 and was at its peak in 2021. However, the legal trend tied to financial technology was transactional work. Some far-sighted law firms and legal practitioners started this trend in the mid 2010s as the indicators showed that financial technology was on the rise and transactions between investors, buyers, sellers, and startups were looming on the horizon. This simple anticipation has successfully let us see Egypt's biggest two public offerings take place less than a decade from each other. Hence, We can say that legal trends are a combination of adaptation and anticipation.

Of course, trends that allow for their legal counterparts may differ from one region to another, but the mixture never changes. In Egypt, for instance, there has been a remarkable surge in the digitization of governmental frameworks, development of infrastructure, media, and taxation. These trends came from the demand of service sectors for more convenience and transparency in dealing with sensitive daily aspects and regulatory bodies. Some even claim that the legal community was the main driver behind the push for the digitization of all things regulatory in Egypt. The result was the transactional and advisory works being the pinnacle of legal services on-demand with some firms venturing into more niche versions of them such as industry focus advisory works (i.e. fintech advisory and startups advisory). In the US, we saw the largest wave of Antitrust actions in line with the trending evolution of technology, data privacy, and artificial intelligence as seen with headliner cases and hearings against Google and Facebook (now Meta). In countries with rapid growth, such as the UAE, trends and demand could be rather extraordinary as it focuses on the basics. The UAE had its fair share of rapid legislative and market growth over the past 5 years. This led to high demand for basic legal services that are required to merely exist in the UAE with trending services in the UAE. This includes business in