Tech start-ups, they’re everywhere.
Anybody with a keyboard is now a nontrepreneur—an entrepreneur who needs nearly nothing, non-ness, to make an invisible product or intermediary service with questionable social welfare output.
Nontrepreneurs are intermediaries, connecting people, companies, or services that have already existed in markets deeply ingrained in our society for decades.
“In essence, software (which is at the heart of these startups) is eating away at the structures established in the analogue age. LinkedIn, a social network, for instance, has fundamentally changed the recruitment business. Airbnb, a website on which private owners offer rooms and flats for short-term rent, is disrupting the hotel industry. And Uber, a service that connects would-be passengers with drivers, is doing the same for the taxi business,” writes Ludwig Siegele for the print-edition of the Economist magazine’s article, A Cambrian moment.
Recruiters still exist, but with LinkedIn as a complementary asset. Gites and family-style B&Bs still thrive, but with a forum to post availability and through which customers can compare their quaintness.
What exactly is coming out of this tech-start-up boom? Is this another Silicon Valley boom, bubble, and bust?
Experts don’t think so, high-tech is here to stay. Although, they do blame the blase millennials, a lazy generation who do it themselves in order to delay what grandparents called paying-your-dues.
“A lot of millennials are not particularly keen on getting a ‘real’ job anyway. According to a recent survey of 12,000 people aged between 18 and 30 in 27 countries, more than two-thirds see opportunities in becoming an entrepreneur,” writes Siegele.
“That signals a cultural shift.”
Opportunities in nontrepreneurship have increased. Buzz words like “innovation” or “invention” abound.
So how will tomorrow’s economy accommodate so much creativity?
“The prevailing model will be platforms with small, innovative firms operating on top of them. This pattern is already emerging in such sectors as banking, telecommunications, electricity and even government,” continues Siegele.
Basically, people need a change. They want something new—a new lifestyle, a new product, a new way of working.
This cultural shift is a threat to the legal industry who prides itself on being old, established. Law firms project the image of being solid, like the granite walls of a courthouse or the mahogany legs of an office desk.
To survive in such a brave new world of tech start-ups, law firms must embrace the new in one of two ways:
- adopt innovative legal tools—software and alternative billing arrangements; or
- cater their old-style services to new-fangled sectors, like M&A, venture capital services, and entrepreneurial advising.
For instance, in London, JAG Shaw Baker is a leader of the pact in European law firms dedicated to venture capital and advising start-ups and investors in high growth industries.
“The fact it’s in London signals the fact that the ecosystem there is growing at a clip, and is rapidly acting as a hub for international startups,” writes Mike Butcher in 2013 for the TechCrunch article, A Rare Launch In Europe—Big New Law Firm Dedicated To Tech Startups.
So if your firm hasn’t already, it’s high time to develop a strategy for capturing high-tech industry market share. Whether it’s a new HR regime, new website for attracting clients, purchasing legal software, or providing new services to nontrepreneurs, law firms should embrace this tech boom or risk going bust.