As general counsel move closer to the centre of power in Indian companies, their clout over law firms is increasing. What does this mean for the legal profession?Rebecca Abraham finds out

In 2008, in a book provocatively named The End of Lawyers?, Richard Susskind predicted a future populated by significantly fewer lawyers doing what lawyers traditionally do. Instead Susskind, a legal technology expert who is among other things IT adviser to England’s lord chief justice, prophesied “the birth of a new streamlined and technology-based generation of practising lawyers”, who would fulfil one or more of several less traditional roles including legal knowledge engineer, legal risk manager, and expert trusted adviser.

Susskind was writing about the legal market in developed jurisdictions where law firms were functioning in “the slipstream of the economic downturn”. The innovative changes he described were spurred by pressures on law firms from general counsel who wanted more for less, competitors that had “no nostalgic commitment” to the status quo, and “disruptive legal technologies” that challenged existing legal practices.

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