Claire Bibby, COO of Immediation
The way we communicate, interact socially and conduct our everyday lives at work and play is changing rapidly. Digital technologies are changing our behaviour, our needs and our wants and it’s crucial that those who recruit lawyers keeps up.
The digital revolution has changed consumer behaviour, and along with it, the expectations of the next generation of lawyers. As a result, the skills and interest in new technology from lawyers – and the industry as a whole – is growing. But are employers taking heed of these changes?
To ensure the next generation of lawyers is equipped to meet the needs of clients, there are several key areas we should be focusing on. Each will play a role in adding value and improving service efficiency within the legal industry.
- The individual
Tomorrow’s lawyers have grown up with digital technology and understand the potential of its application given its incorporation into their everyday lives. Ergo, they are open to the role technology can play in streamlining existing legal practices and roles.
It’s crucial as an industry – and in particular, as an industry whereby its people are the foundation – to nurture this innovation. Along with negotiation skills, advocacy and the ability to cultivate relationships with customers, the next generation of successful lawyers have a much wider lens and ability to see the bigger picture – and with that comes more innovative solutions.
Recognising the digital shift, law schools have already made changes to their underlying curriculums. They offer more electives in advocacy and legal practice management, along with courses on how to adapt to changing legal services and technology, driven by our changing times. Students are savvy about innovation and want to harness its benefits. Along with the traditional practices of law, they are now learning how to build and run innovative technological solutions – from AI to smart forms to contracts – they are seeking to improve access to the law and have day to day practice catch up.
However, education doesn’t stop at graduation and while it’s easy to accept tradition as the status quo, the ever-evolving nature of the digital world means that every lawyer must take it upon themselves to consider how we can better address the needs of consumers. We need to ensure knowledge and information is shared across the industry, in order to enable practitioners industry-wide are up to speed and have the ability and skills to adapt.
Its incumbent upon all of our profession to respond to change by adopting innovative entrepreneurial solutions or risk being left behind to gather dust. By being aware, through continuing education, of solutions available to meet those needs, we better service our clients and the lawyers of tomorrow. Gone are the days where, as attributed to Henry Ford “if I had asked people want they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Eric Vermeulen in his blog on ‘the rise of lawyers in a digital world’ speaks to the key skills a lawyer has that will be, in his opinion, key to a lawyer having an important role in a complex digital world. They include complex problem solving; persuasion (providing clarity for decision making), and legal reasoning that includes out-of-the-box thinking to meet the demand for innovative thinking.
Traditional legal and people skills remain essential elements for a successful career in law. However for today’s lawyers, and those still to come, this digital crossroad that we are now at signals opportunity. Even is some legal jobs may disappear, the adoption of new technologies – like artificial intelligence, cloud computing and technology platforms – have the potential to create new and innovative possibilities for the industry. Don’s risk the horse bolting or you’ll be left behind.
Read more about Claire on Immediation’s dispute resolution platform.