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Technology will have a huge impact on lawyers’ skills and legal practice

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The legal profession faces tremendous challenges over the next decade in recruiting people who can exercise their skills in a context of evolving technology and its expanded deployment while meeting changing client requirements.

The commercial climate will be characterised by new (and sometimes conflicting) legislation and regulation. Law firms will have to pay increasing attention to finding and developing skills and to managing employment levels, security and cyber risk, in an increasingly international context.

Thushani Lawson, who heads Deloitte’s research on the professional services sector, highlighted these factors at a recent London Shipping Law Centre seminar, held at HFW’s London offices.

Deloitte’s had worked closely with the Law Society and some academics in researching factors affecting the flow of future talent for law firms. They had utilised a review of legal literature, consultations and analysed various scenario.

Over the next ten years, there will be a greater range and deployment of technology. Challenges will include globalisation, legislation and regulation—-and the ever more demanding requirement to provide client firms with value for money.

At present, law firms are still able currently to select the best talent. However, over 60 per cent of law graduates do not enter the legal profession. There is a clear need to persuade more to do so, especially as an extra 25,000 workers would be needed for legal work before 2020.

By 2025, 75% of the global workforce would be of the millennial generation. They  would be more concerned than their predecessors with aligning earning a living with their social values and aspirations. Employment turnover was likely to be greater. However, only one third of companies had programmes focused on millennials.

So far, technological change has mainly affected the more routine functions. However, automation is likely to impinge increasingly on some of the work carried out by barristers, solicitors and other legal professionals and secretaries. All will have to become au fait with technological developments.

Many legal practitioners would have to develop new business models to meet changing client requirements. This would affect the profile of people joining law firms and their career expectations. Some firms would venture into new markets along a spectrum from cautious adjustment to radical transformation. Some would try to stick with what they know, perhaps limiting their services or geographical range.

Ms Lawson had no doubt that maritime law firms would have to re-examine their culture and requirements and the roles of everyone involved—-partners, leaders, fee earners, project managers, sales executives, data specialists and others.

They would need to ask themselves if they have the right people for the future of their businesses. What sort of leaders will be needed in the near future? Will diversity be an important consideration? What about succession plans? What sort of careers experience will employers want? What coaching, mentoring and management skills will be required?

The disruptive nature of such changes would not be welcome to all practitioners. “Nevertheless, the challenges have to be faced.”


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