Published in 2008, The End of Lawyers: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services by Richard Susskind explains how technology will likely erode the need for many traditional legal services. This was extremely prescient, given the ongoing downward pressure on law firms to create efficiencies by adopting Knowledge Management systems or by having less expensive personnel complete routinized tasks.
These downward pressures are efficiently enumerated today in the the Wall Street Journal article Law Firms Face Fresh Backlash over Fees.
According to this article, attorneys are not meant to profit from soft costs such as “photocopy paper, tuna fish sandwiches, computer time or messenger services.”
Included in this would be the cost incurred for legal research. In an effort to reduce costs for outside legal work, Johnson & Johnson now “maintains its own subscriptions to legal databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis[, asking] law firms to use its accounts when doing work for the company.”
HLS students have the luxury of learning efficient legal research methods. For more, contact the HLS library at http://asklib.law.harvard.edu/ or come to a research workshop: http://libcal.law.harvard.edu/