Faced with outdated methods within the profession and a lack of future focus at traditional law firms, the digital-ready legal talent pool is beginning to look elsewhere for work – either to only the most progressive firms, or to other professions entirely. 

Even the usual recruitment guarantee of cherry-picking thousands of competing law students each year is in doubt: research by Legal Cheek shows that four-fifths of law students reported being open to other career options like consulting and public sector work. 

Point is, it’s never been tougher to attract and keep talent and it’s not just salaries and benefits that drive those decisions but access to the latest in tech innovations that make work easier, faster and smarter but also make teams proud of where they work. 

The minority of pioneers within the sector are showing the rest how to keep young talent engaged. As the Financial Times recently reported, the most innovative European law firms now have what they often call “advanced” teams, which assemble the skills of legal engineers along with technologists, project managers and design thinkers. 

And many areas of legal practice now employ lawyers who are adept at tech: their clients are going digital, and so must they. Other firms and their C-Suites now need to follow suit by forming strategies that empower people with technology-driven strategies. By failing to focus on tech innovation, they risk losing credibility with existing and future talent.

Business leaders need to match the growing digital literacy and ambitions of young lawyers

Gartner explains how companies can move faster on digital transformation if all levels of the organisation share an understanding of the aims.  

But there is evidence of a growing divide between digitally hungry up-and-coming legal professionals and the more analogue business leaders at the helm of the industry.

Employees are increasingly eager to make a digital shift; CWJobs found that more than half of non-tech workers are contemplating a tech-based career change and almost one in 10 workers have already made the move. Meanwhile, the C-Suite are frequently found to be either unethusiastic or underinformed about tech. 

“Lawyers have to re-engineer themselves to deliver the outcomes that clients want”, writes Professor Richard Susskind OBE in Tomorrow’s Lawyers. But the onus is now on business leaders to ensure that the organisational frameworks are in place to allow lawyers to not just keep pace with, but propel technology-driven growth. 

What are you doing to attract digital talent? 

In the emerging talent war, your firm needs to turn the heads of the next cohort of legal innovators. But standing out from the crowd isn’t easy in an industry increasingly packed with disruptor firms and legaltech vendors. Here’s a look at a few of the people-focused tactics and strategies that could help secure a healthy flow of talent into your business.

  • Meet the flexibility demand
    The industry won’t simply spring back to normal after the pandemic; many workers want to retain their remote and flexible capabilities, and firms need to incorporate this into their employment models. The majority of lawyers agree that WFH capabilities are going to be a major factor in employer choice from now on; the sooner firms map out the security, compliance and communication issues of going remote, the faster they can meet this rising demand.Others have experienced the remote shift less enthusiastically; junior lawyers who ordinarily would be working closely with more experienced colleagues have lost valuable learning time. Mentorships and development programmes need to be rapidly modified to ensure that every employee is supported in their own career path.
  • Increase employee engagement
    A survey by Aon of 10,000 UK professionals working in the legal sector found that only around half are actually engaged by their role. This is more often than not down to the employer.Communication is a huge factor: Generation Z are often shown to value a culture of open and honest feedback in the world of work. Leaders need to take ownership of improving these lines of communication and keeping employees incentivized and engaged. Willis Towers Watson’s Artificial Intelligence and Digital Talent survey showed that 63% of organisations are already differentiating rewards, benefits or talent programmes for digital talent. Could your firm be doing more to lead the way?
  • Improve wellbeing across the board
    Digitalising your business means adopting new tools but this could also result in complication for staff. The Bellwether Report 2019 found two-thirds of solicitors experiencing high levels of stress – technology should reduce these levels rather than add to them. Handled with care, legal tech can help make workloads more manageable, create a more supportive culture, and potentially keep staff in better control of both caseloads and general wellbeing. Online tools such as case management systems need to be easy to navigate and intuitive to use; communications channel organised and de-cluttered. These are the often unsung elements of a business that keep brains from overloading and shave unproductive hours off the working week.
  • Commit to human-centric technology
    It can be hard to implement change when old habits are ingrained. According to a 2020 survey of over 100 UK legal professionals, a majority of legal teams fear their use of technology is not ‘fit for purpose’ to meet the demands of their business in 2025. Prospect’s ‘London Recharged’ report urges the industry to upskill legal practitioners to embrace digitised legal services as the status quo; this will soon become a pre-requisite in the race for talent.CIOs or Heads of Innovation will need to have the vision to secure partner buy-in and the execution to incorporate new tools into services that excite both employees and clients. Some of the most progressive firms and Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) are uniting a range of human skills to offer integrated services models that combine consulting, strategy, IT, project management and legal services. In the tradition-bound legal industry, a C-Suite that can set the tone for tech-driven and customisable flexibility will keep making waves with emerging talent. 

How can we help?

Our human-centric approach to tech consulting in the legal sector

We take a holistic view of our clients’ businesses and the opportunities for innovation, the barriers to change and the need for integrated, advanced technology solutions that maximise the employee experience.  

Empower your people to enact cultural change 

Legal professionals need to adapt to digital, and firms need to work out how to manage that shift. Our executive education programmes are designed to address these human and cultural aspects of profound transformation.  

Redefine your roadmap with bold strategy 

We help firms and their leaders prepare themselves for the future of the legal industry by evaluating the strategic role technology has now and in the future for their business, and the initiatives needed to deliver on that vision. 

Execute thoughtful technology adoption 

We give you the advanced technology roadmap to help you ensure that lawyers can focus more time and energy on higher value tasks and client care. And crucially, we will oversee the delivery of that roadmap via our trusted network of partners.

Head to our legal transformation services page for more about how we launch and sustain digital transformation for law firms. We can start you on a path to success. 

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