Summary of The Future of the Professions

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The Future of the Professions book summary

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Legal technology expert Richard Susskind OBE and his son, Oxford economics professor Daniel Susskind, offer a lucid discussion of how technology is transforming the professional disciplines. While some of their examples – such as Wikipedia or the Khan Academy – will be familiar, others are freshly intriguing. The Susskinds methodically discuss how the technological, social, economic, psychological, ethical and emotional aspects of the professions are changing under the impact of emerging technologies. getAbstract recommends their look ahead to anyone in a professional discipline and to anyone interested in how technology is changing society.

About the Authors

Legal technology expert Richard Susskind OBE also wrote Tomorrow’s Lawyers. Daniel Susskind, an economics lecturer at Balliol College, Oxford, was a Kennedy scholar at Harvard.


A Mutual Understanding

The professions are central to society and the economy. People trust professionals and expect them to behave ethically. Professional practitioners enjoy elevated social status, often earned through attendance at elite schools known for their quality and economic class associations.

Professional practitioners – like lawyers, doctors and members of the clergy – possess specialized knowledge. Their knowledge is both abstract (they know more about their topic) and applied (they can put it to use). They have formal credentials. Historically, professionals earned credentials by serving apprenticeships. Now, most professions require candidates to acquire a specified education and to take official examinations to gain entrance. Regulations give professionals a monopoly and govern their practices. The public expects professionals to follow specific codes of ethics and conduct.

Society enters into a “grand bargain” with professionals. It treats them as authorities and gives them license to do things that others cannot. For example, it allows only doctors to operate on people. Professionals practice in areas beyond the competence of those without...

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