In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the hobbit Frodo Baggins receives a disconcerting glimpse into the future from a prescient elfin queen. As he peers into the queen’s silver basin, Frodo is told that the mirror “shows many things . . . things that were . . . things that are . . . and some things that have not yet come to pass.” At first, Frodo sees pleasant images from the past of he and his hobbit colleagues relaxing at a bar, perhaps during a hobbit happy hour. Soon, however, the mirror shows a far less hospitable world. In this glimpse of the near future, hobbits are forced to work in large sweatshops run by unfeeling Orcs who focus solely on the bottom line. The Orcs constantly pressure the hobbits to increase their productivity, on pain of permanent downsizing. After Frodo pulls away from this nightmarish vision, the elf queen warns him, “I know what it is you saw, for it is also in my mind. It is what will come to pass if you should fail.”
In The End of Lawyers, attorneys and law students receive similarly disconcerting warnings about the future of the legal world from noted author Richard Susskind. First published in 2008 and rereleased in 2010, The End of Lawyers predicts that the Internet will force lawyers to provide services far more efficiently and economically (read, cheaply), or else become casualties of disintermediation. Many of the book’s predications have already come to pass, and many of its observations seem almost trite today, at the end of 2012.