• Friday, April 12, 2024
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How Technology Is Changing the Legal Sector- Part II

How Technology Is Changing the Legal Sector- Part II

“This article was sourced from Taylor & Francis Group, Informa PLC”.

The impact of new roles on training and recruitment

These roles reflect the centrality of technology to the future of the legal sector and demonstrate the need for legal professionals to have more numerous, and broader, functions going forward. This will ultimately lead to recruitment teams widening their search criteria and training encompassing more than just theoretical and practical law, which will be explored below.

Changes in recruitment

Technology has not yet fundamentally changed the recruitment processes of firms in the UK, but its exponential growth is expected to necessitate the transformation of the practice of law and thus the sector’s recruitment processes. First, firms will likely recruit from wider pools of talent. This may mean taking on individuals who have a lesser understanding of law, but instead have an innovative approach and an alternative educational background. Such flexibility would particularly suit roles such as the legal process analyst or legal data scientist, but could also be applied to the recruitment of more traditional solicitors – so long as they are legally qualified – in order to foster versatility.

On top of hiring from a broader talent pool, proactively recruiting more STEM students will become commonplace because of its advantages for firms. They can get ahead of their competitors by finding suitable candidates for contemporary roles such as the technological R&D worker. This supports the expectation that recruiters will expand their criteria to account for factors which may previously have been seen as redundant in the legal sector. Accordingly, written applications, online assessments, assessment centres, and interviews currently used by firms would need to be updated. Changes which could be implemented to this effect would be the widening of essential criteria on application forms or the abolishment of software scanning applications. Both of these adjustments would allow alternative skill sets, experience or qualifications (in some roles) to be equivalent to, or more valuable than, traditional requirements.

Lastly, changes may need to be made to recruitment teams themselves. It has been suggested that a new managerial role should be brought into firms to accompany the implementation of a new recruitment structure. Moreover, recruiters will need to take on training so as to develop skills relevant to carrying out new recruitment processes.

It has been recommended that all of the recruitment changes detailed be promptly adopted and regularly renewed so that firms gain commercial advantage over their competitors and mitigate any threats posed by technology.

Changes in training

The requirement for traditional trainee solicitors – and legal technologists, for example – to learn core legal topics will remain unchanged. However, other elements of training will need to be transformed in order to adequately prepare trainees for new legal roles.

In terms of academic training, students will need to study “current and future trends in legal services”. There are a variety of means by which this could be achieved. For example: computing skills could be incorporated into legal studies; legal informatics initiatives could be introduced; cyber clinics could be created. Providing pro bono advice via cyber clinics during university would prepare students for the changes in law invoked by technology. It would allow them to work closely with technology whilst developing greater client service skills, which are key to offering clients the human touch that technology cannot. Another suggestion for change in academic training has been to involve practising solicitors in the delivery of additional courses, as they could highlight to students which skills and roles are gaining prominence in the ever-changing legal sector.

It has, however, been argued by Susskind that the time for change in training is not during law school but rather during the vocational stage. This is likely because only a minority of students studying law go on to become legal professionals; a large proportion instead utilise their law degree to build a strong skill set for another career. Denvir has supported Susskind by offering amendments that should be made to vocational training in line with new legal roles. She states that divergent solution solving, often used in the world of software, should be employed as a regular activity during training for legal professionals. This would aid in the development of skills relevant to several new legal roles, such as the legal technologist and technological R&D worker. Denvir has also put forward the concept of “innovation hours”, during which time trainees could innovate technological solutions.

Although the planned annulment of the traditional training contract has been driven by making training more fair, it could also be key to some trainees developing skills relevant to a new legal role. This is because its replacement – qualifying work experience – can be completed in up to four firms and can account for other relevant experience. Another potential change could be the introduction of a compulsory seat in technology, or even business or tech-focused training contracts, to prepare trainees for alternative legal roles. This change has already been implemented by a small number of innovative UK firms, such as Clifford Chance with its IGNITE technological training programme, which unites traditional solicitors and technological advisers by offering the opportunity for applicants to qualify as a solicitor and work alongside the firm’s tech group.

Conclusion

This piece has looked at how technology is changing the legal field through the creation of new legal roles. These roles are emerging due to technology both changing the traditional organisation of firms and creating a demand for technologically competent professionals. As detailed, new legal roles are expected to implement vast changes in the training and recruitment of legal professionals – such changes being particularly prevalent in light of the current global pandemic and society’s increasing reliance on technology.