The law may be a tale as old as time, but the business – yes, the business – of lawyering must change with the times. Read on to gain some perspective on the tidal wave of trends that’ll shake up the legal world.
First, back to business! If anybody ever told you that legal work and business go hand-in-hand they’re 100 percent on the money. Today’s clients may want truth, justice, and the American way, but what they crave is efficiency: a get-the-job-done-clean-and-quick mentality, if you will. With data analysis and the time-tested paperwork only growing with each year, law firms increasingly must develop into sophisticated data centers with top-notch organization. As the demand for streamlined, cost-effective solutions grows, outsourcing of work also becomes more of a norm. And with problem-solving and a collaborative leadership style as must-haves rather than niceties for lawyers who must balance personnel issues, bureaucracy, and client needs, investing in some business courses just might make all the difference.
Related to the business zeitgeist is the ever-reliable torch-bearer of cultural and professional transformation. Say it three times: technology, technology, and technology. In a world where AI and automation see to our simplest or our most complex tasks, the role of these tools in everything from contract review to evidence preservation cannot be understated. Also consider how many current and future cases hinge on the introduction of electronic data evidence, and technology’s hand in every lawyerly aspect should be apparent. Lawyers may even find themselves competing with technology for clients. Just ask the flourishing virtual law offices springing up around the globe or that old standby, Google, Attorney-at-Law. More tried-and-true traditionalists could give themselves a leg-up of leverage by investing in blogs or an active, professional social media presence.
And what is social media but an attempt to forge connections and foster communication across all barriers? Diversity – whether in characteristics or opinions – always begets change. Just think about the current workforce, which boasts as many as four generations all coexisting for better or worse underneath the same umbrella. Each generation will bring its own viewpoints about hot-button workplace issues like work-life balance, retirement plans, schedule arrangement, and much more. In a highly competitive field like law, which is packed with strong-minded individuals, those strong and often divergent opinions can create a workplace Hades or a haven of collaboration. The choice is ultimately ours. Entire fields such as green law have been driven by the injection of new viewpoints. Likewise, globalization and the diversity it brings has erased many of the borders for both law firms gone international and for domestic firms that merge talents from around the world.
Business, technology, and diversity: three not-so-fleeting trends changing the world, and changing the way that lawyers do business.