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In 2016, disruption in the Australian legal services industry became a normal state of affairs.
Against a background of declining client demand, law firm growth and revenues, traditional business models and methodologies once underpinning the provision of legal services are under immense pressure to change.
Likewise, the preventative measures focused on identifying and interdicting terrorists and predicting targets routinely involve the combined efforts—information sharing, fusion centers, joint operations, terrorism task forces, and regional intelligence centers—of local and federal policing authorities. They have recognized and used the knowledge, skills, and abilities of reservists who also serve as police officers.
The practical knowledge of these dual-role subject matter experts gained from criminal investigations, gang suppression, crowd and riot control, narcotics enforcement, and nonlethal options has enabled capabilities and understanding not otherwise available in the armed forces.
All of the nearly 18,000 state and local agencies continually adapt to the values and priorities of the local community.
However, they are not immune to larger societal trends.
The New Law business model not only proliferated in 2016, it also impacted the way in which more traditionally structured large law firms do business.
Many of the most interesting recent developments in the New Law space involved Big Law firms recalibrating aspects of their business model or expanding their offerings by collaborating with New Law entrants.
American law enforcement agencies reflect the people they serve.
Despite the acknowledged cultural risks of lateral hiring, the practice and pace continued strongly in 2016, with whole teams – including partners, associates and support staff – willing to change firms on the right terms.
These top trends of 2016 indicate that change appears to be the only constant in the Australian market.
While it has dominated discussion in the financial services space in 2016, blockchain technology is becoming increasingly relevant to other legal disciplines such as intellectual property, real property, legal administration and identity verification.
Smart contracts – understood to mean complex programs stored and executed on a blockchain, as well as a way of using blockchain technology to complement existing legal contracts – was also another hot topic in 2016.