Over the past few years, there have been countless headlines and reports, including our own, on the changing legal landscape — one that required counsel to adapt or get left behind. Recently, Forbes published a solid opinion piece on how this seismic change has hewn a new position and new opportunities for both the recent law graduate and current lawyer alike.
In “The New Legal Career,” contributor Mark A. Cohen expertly presents the “unprecedented opportunities” for today’s lawyers in an increasingly “tech and process-enabled, diverse, client-centric corporatized delivery paradigm.”
Fading away in a majority of firms, says Cohen, is the “2000+ billable hours or out” mindset. In its place are “agile providers offering increased [work] flexibility,” which is highly attractive to incoming, technologically savvy millennials. Creativity, innovation, and courage are welcomed. It’s the “golden age of the legal entrepreneur.”
Cohen points out that the legal practice, once solely about legal expertise, is now centered on the delivery of legal services; “a three-legged stool supported by legal, technological, and process expertise.” Cohen adds:
“Legal services are optimally delivered when legal, technological, and process expertise are melded to tackle business challenges, not ‘legal’ ones.”
While law firms continue to adapt — some more than others — to the changing legal landscape, the best in-house departments have learned “to operate as integrated counselors/business partners of the companies they serve.”
Legal service providers are a model for incorporating technology and processes and being focused on innovation, collaboration, transparency, responsiveness, cost-effectiveness and more. Cohen predicts that the elite service providers, as well as the Big Four accounting firms and giant corporations, will be among the largest employers of lawyers in the future.
“Their holistic approach to client challenges — one where legal issues are part of a broader solution that involves technology, business, analytics, and process — will be the paradigm for the new legal career.”
As has also been discussed is the role of technology. Instead of being threatened by technology, top lawyers leverage it to their advantage. Per Cohen, intellectual, emotional and artificial intelligence (AI) are present in the legal marketplace. Again, it’s the top lawyers who possess both intellectual and emotional intelligence and welcomes AI.
“AI poses no threat for them; it is simply another tool that will enable them to focus on core tasks and to better leverage their expertise and time for the benefit of clients.”
So, for the lawyer who is well positioned for the continued changes taking place and who is client-focused, the future is very bright. It’s a new legal career and opportunities abound.
To learn more about recommended technology tools, read “The Lawyer’s Guide to Legal Technology in 2017.”