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Technology and the Distribution of Power in the Legal Industry

There is a general assumption, it seems to me, that the most financially successful big law firms have the best lawyers. While this assumption may be true in some cases, I do not believe that it is always true. At any rate, big law firms seem to attract the most lucrative contracts and control the legal market of major cities. Understandably, law students compete tirelessly among themselves to secure a job with a big law firm because that is one surest way of offsetting gargantuan student loans and establishing financial stability. With their history of financial success and their ability to attract the richest clients, it seems to me that big law firms have risen to the level of invincibility within the legal industry. And it is safe to conclude that they are keen on maintaining their dominance as long as they can.

Thus, unless the status quo is disrupted, law students will most likely continue to compete with each other to get jobs in big law firms. And since law firms can only absorb a minuscule of new lawyers, many new lawyers will have to find alternative ways of surviving in the legal industry without a big law firm job and even in competition with big law firms. Thus, if the status quo is maintained, big law firms will continue to take away most of the financial benefits of law practice, and the multitudes of lawyers will most likely fail to realize their financial potentials. The surest way of reversing this dominance of big law firms, I believe, is through the effective use of modern technology. Instead of waiting in line to obtain a big-law-firm job that may never exist, law students and new lawyers may find ways of circumventing the status quo by creating an effective online presence and reaching out to clients through creative social media outlets. I must assume that big law firms are also keen on maintaining strong online presence. Nonetheless, the open nature of the internet does not give big law firms unsurmountable leverage over small firms and solo practitioners as their financial superiority does. In fact, it is even likely that big law firms are complacent about online presence because of their historical success. Thus small law firms and solo practitioners might even have an advantage over big law firms with regards to establishing effective online presence. Technology, therefore, is likely the key to redistributing financial power within the legal industry.

-Musah Abubakar