Faculty of Law

Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law

Law’93 grad’s new book helps lawyers build for ‘client-first’ future

(July 18, 2017)

Jordan Furlong, Law’93, has published his first book, Law Is a Buyer’s Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm.
Jordan Furlong, Law’93, has published his first book, Law Is a Buyer’s Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm.

“Lawyers are in the process of losing their monopoly on the provision of legal services,” states legal market analyst and forecaster Jordan Furlong, Law’93. His new book, Law Is a Buyer’s Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm, called “exceptionally clear” and “brimming with practical help” by Professor Richard Susskind OBE, will help lawyers compete in the new market by gearing their practices towards clients.

“I wrote this book because it was becoming clear to me that the market for legal services was experiencing a fundamental change,” Furlong explains. “The buyers of legal services, deeply dissatisfied for many years with their options for obtaining legal services, are taking advantage of shifts in buying power, technological advances, regulatory changes and new competition to do something about it. If lawyers want to continue to dominate the market for legal services, we'll have to do it on the merits. Most law firms are nowhere near ready to compete in that kind of environment. We need to get there, fast.

“I've yet to come across a single law firm anywhere that tracks and measures client satisfaction at the conclusion of each retainer,” he continues. “The most important message of the book is that lawyers and law firms need a brand new approach to the legal market – specifically, we need to be geared towards the interests of buyers (our clients) rather than sellers (ourselves).

“I like to say that I didn't choose this line of work so much as it chose me,” says Furlong about his career as a legal market analyst and forecaster. In the mid-90s, after practising law, Furlong became a legal journalist as a writer and editor of three weekly legal periodicals. In 2008, he started his blog, Law21.ca, about the shortcomings and failures of the old legal market and in 2010 he became a full-time consultant. “People became interested in what I was saying, which led to requests to speak to law firm retreats and legal organization annual meetings. I never imagined I'd be doing this for a living, but I also sometimes feel like this was an inevitable destination.”

Among the problems of traditional law practice that Furlong lists are unpredictable rates, indifferent communication with clients and measurement of productivity by lawyer time and effort rather than client satisfaction. “This is what happens to a group of service providers that enjoys the safety of a monopolized environment,” he says. “We need to do better – not just for business reasons but also for professional ones because law is a service profession that is supposed to place the interests of clients above the interest of lawyers.”

By Anthony Pugh