You may have caught sight of new TV show ‘Flash Forward’, one of the few programmes on Five which appeals to a general rather than niche audience. If you haven’t, let me briefly explain the premise. It’s a bit like Lost, but rather than having a plane crash and lots of unanswered questions, affecting only the hundred or so on the flight, this time the whole world loses consciousness at the same time. For two minutes and seventeen seconds. In that time, each person sees what he or she will be doing on 29 April 2010. In the UK this happens at 6.00 a.m. and it’s a Thursday. OK, so it is like Lost and the first episode even had aeroplanes crashing. There are no polar bears yet, but there are lots of dead crows.
I’ve checked my diary, which tells me 29 April is the last day to get bills done. That won’t be affecting me at that time in the morning though, I’ll hopefully be asleep. But will I be one of those people who see nothing? And if so, does that mean I am dead? And if it does, how do I die? Knowledge of the future can be a wonderful thing (see the lady who is giving birth). It can also be an incredible burden (see Joseph Fiennes trying to work it all out, back on the booze and with an adulterous wife).
Why is this relevant for us lawyers though? The legal connection is two-fold: (a) it’s got Miles from This Life in it, and; (b) what does the future hold?
Our ‘Flash Forward’ is the Legal Services Act. 6 months isn’t long enough for us to realise the implications of this Act. But what if we are to flash forward 5 years? 20 years? In my 2 minutes I might see myself at 6am working in a call centre selling Tesco Value Law or spending my salary of Clubcard points. Or might I be working for a large firm with people who were previously my opponents, now no longer able to afford indemnity insurance as individual firms? Will there still be a requirement for solicitors as specialist training makes the LPC and legal training redundant?
Unfortunately, no one knows. It will be a long time before we realise how ABSs, LDPs, MDPs, LLPs and Plcs change the legal landscape. But the people who do well will be those who predict the change rather than react to it. Good lawyers will always do well. They always have. But for anyone who is not committed to the profession, is inflexible or open to change, there are likely to be fewer opportunities to succeed.
What will your flash forward present you with? And what, if anything, can you do to change it?