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How to future-proof your legal career

25 Apr 2018

How can you prepare yourself for what the future will hold in the Legal market?

The past few years have seen unprecedented changes in the way that we do business. From the technology that we use to the politics that are shaping our economy, the market is constantly on the move- and this rapid pace of change is not going to slow down any time soon. 

This is especially true of the Legal sector. Though it’s often described as traditional, and slow to change, the future could see dramatic upheavals in the way that Legal firms operate, and even in the day-to-day jobs of many Lawyers. From increasingly smart AI systems, to the rise of new markets in places like the Middle East, 72% of firms say that change in the Legal profession will continue happening at a rapid pace in coming years.

With that in mind, how can Lawyers make sure that they stay ahead of the curve and develop skills that will serve them well in the changing economic climate? 

Here are our tips for future-proofing your Legal career.

Know how to adapt to the changing market

It’s no secret that technology is set to have a massive impact on the Legal industry. In recent years, 84% of Legal firms have indicated that IT and technology-based investment has moved up the strategic agenda, and with ever-more sophisticated software making its way into the workplace, it’s no surprise why. AI has the potential to revolutionise the way Legal firms work: it’s capable of doing the work traditionally allocated to junior Lawyers, or to Legal researchers, in the blink of an eye. With AI, firms can do huge amounts of work in the fraction of the time it would have taken beforehand, such as creating contracts and analysing big data.

Despite this, it’s worth remembering that technology likely will not affect the day-to-day role of many Lawyers. Though computers can take on work, the human element will remain vital to customers who pay for the years of experience that come with the service provided by many senior Lawyers. What technology will affect, however, is the way in which Lawyers win business. To provide their clients with an efficient, cost-effective services, Lawyers need to apply their knowledge of law to their clients’ needs. Today, the onus is increasingly falling upon the importance of customer services.

Keep up to date with customer services

The Legal market today is more arguably more competitive than ever before. With a spate of mergers and acquisitions taking place in the market- including the largest-ever Legal merger between Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang last year- Legal firms all over the world are facing increased competition for customers, and to attract the increasing number of online consumers who rely on the Internet to source and hire firms.   

Providing a good customer service is only going to become more important in coming years, as Lawyers fight to secure clients. After all, if you’re slow in delivering a service, or if you’re not opening Internet portals to increase your visibility online, there are 50 other competitors for your client to go to. In today’s market, the customer is king.  As a result, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with those customers, in a language that they understand, is a key skill for a successful Lawyer to master. This is especially true given that a computer cannot negotiate deals, mediate disputes or make ethical judgements.

Business is key

With a good service becoming a priority, and advances in technology taking on the workload of junior Lawyers, knowing how to communicate effectively with both colleagues and customers is a vital skill if you want to climb the ladder in your Legal career. Consequently, what is expected of senior partners and Legal associates is changing: today’s firms are looking for people who can win business, rather than those whose strengths lie solely in academia. 

In today’s competitive market, hiring people who have a capacity to help grow revenue, manage people, and teach the rest of their team how they can win business, is becoming the desired standard for many Legal firms. As this competition increases, the key to success lies with having the business acumen that will attract clients, as well as the drive to make new deals- which is being counted as equally important as any technical ability. 

A willingness to learn

Indeed, today’s Lawyers need to be prepared to invest more in their jobs than perhaps ever before. Though Lawyers in London currently work longer hours than their counterparts anywhere else in the UK, increased competition for business among city firms means that many will have to work even longer hours, and harder, to outcompete their fellow competitors. 

Alongside this need for drive and determination, many companies are starting to diversify their services to attract more business, and take advantage of the ever-expanding Legal market. Technology looks set to benefit law firms in more ways than one: alongside the faster, cheaper services presented by AI come new sources of business. Lawyers are starting to branch out into relatively new avenues of law like cybersecurity, Fintech and cryptocurrency, all of which are experiencing a recruitment boom which is only going to grow over the coming years- especially given that Fintech companies are expecting to see record-breaking investment this year, despite the political uncertainty caused by Brexit. 

These areas are growing in importance- and as they do, Lawyers need to be ready to learn about, and seize, new business opportunities.

Future-proof your Legal career with IDEX Consulting

From customer expectations to new avenues of business, Lawyers need to adapt to the way in which the world of law is changing. For more advice on how to do that, check out our blog for more insights, or start planning for your future with our range of Legal vacancies.

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