As I have posted about previously, I am reading "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman. One of the astute observations that I think Mr. Friedman makes is that the last 200 years has seen a shift in power from governments, then to corporations and now to individuals. In the age of government power, value was defined and allocated on a government basis across society. In the age of corporations, which is the one in which Mr. Friedman believes we are effectively concluding, value was provided, allocated and controlled on a corporate level. During the age of corporations, a customer or client looked to companies to provide products and services which brought the correct mix of quality, value and price.
As the barriers between corporations, countries and other entities begin to crumble, we are seeing a shift of power to where the best value proposition has always and will always reside, on an individual level. A person who is the best at what they do no longer has to exist within a company or corporate structure in order to offer that value to the market. In fact, a single person who is the best at what they do can offer that value, utilizing literally all of the same resources available to large corporations, from their home office. And, for services which require a large number of people, such as call centers, those call centers can be located halfway across the globe if people at that location can deliver more quality at a better price.
There are recent statistics that 85% of lawyers work in law firms with ten people or less. I truly do believe that we are seeing a shift of talent from big law to smaller firms and even to individual practitioners. An individual practitioner that provides value to their client will thrive because the market will react to that value proposition. The client that receives the value will tell their friends and the independent practitioners reputation will inevitably grow.
I believe that the truest form of value has always been at an individual level. But has historically be captured by large corporations and companies and effectively been held captive there. Because individuals could not afford the infrastructure to make offer their value to the market, companies had tremendous leverage over the individual worker. The availability of technology has decimated that premise. We are now entering the age of mankind where power will no longer be held by big fat cats whose historical value often times with little more than capturing or owning groups of talented individuals. It is those individuals who will rule the upcoming decades.
I used to feel bad because I knew I was at the dying end of the industrial age, which had bound up with it norms and precedents which held no rational basis in today's world. About five years ago, the light bulb came on for me. I realized that I was actually at the beginning of the information age, of the age of individuals. I look forward to watching the markets evolve and gravitate towards the value which an individual, with unique talents, can provide. I look forward to watching those individuals gravitate away from the fat cats who run large corporations. I look forward to the age of individual practitioners across legal and other professional markets.