400 years from e-discovery and litigation energy analytics to artificial intelligence and machine learning. There has never been a more exciting and dynamic time to become a member of the legal profession. Law school will provide them knowledge about their respective fields, but it will also introduce them to the lifelong study of practising life. It will introduce them to constantly evolving complexity of the modern world, teach them holistic, comprehensive and malleable solution to problem-solving.
What can we predict for the legal function in the future?
When in 2020, the pandemic struck, we found it difficult to connect to people around us. During that time, technology came to rescue. But, by 2025, the regulatory environment is going to be far more complex. Pressure to cut costs is going to be at all- time highs. While standardization and automation will create routes, new routes to efficiency and insights, we can still keep the door wide open, regarding COVID-19 not going to be wished away. All these circumstances will ramp up all these challenges even more.
The role of in-house legal teams will change quickly. Businesses which they support are already going digital. What can expect from it in long-term? How will the forces shape the legal function of tomorrow? And what should the clients expect? We can affirm that half of the legal team will not be lawyers. The traditional legal function hierarchy will likely be morphed into a more agile and cost-effective structure. Even though we still use chat boxes or other automated solutions, this will increase in future, along with other forms of productized legal services.
Contract lifestyle management will become the central source of truth for all contracts. Organizations have already done the work to centralize their finance and resource related activities within single systems, as well as the customer relationships and sales. Centralizing how they manage contracts, from negotiation, to execution, and afterwards to termination is the key forward. Here, the key is the organization's ability to reduce costs, manage risk, and improve performance.
Managing culture and shifting mindsets will become essential. Cultural aspects of law schools or law firms will undergo tremendous change. Firms will need to arm themselves with new skills, and their leaders will need to demonstrate their commitment to realise transformation benefits.
It will now become more important for firms and institutions to develop the skills of their aspirants so as to develop better lawyers. Students pursuing law, or those who aspire to become a lawyer should focus on building their skills. To name a few,
Learning how to nurture creativity
Learning how to listen
Learning to manage personal finances
Learning time management
Moreover, students will need to realise that law is not like any other desk job, but a unique and ethical profession, where they will play an essential role in shaping the society. They should be sure about the field they plan to major in, and hence grasp good subjects. Law firms can play an essential role in helping lawyers achieve this. Somewhere down the lane students still perceive law firms as competitive corporate jobs that come with its benefits. This perception results in them merely preparing to get placed and they do not aspire to achieve something bigger. To resolve this issue, firms should help students see the bigger picture of the twin role law firms serve, as economic and service institutions. Once students realize the service provided by firms add significant value to the growth of the society at large, the perception of their own careers will change.
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