From new technology and rising new areas of practice to an increase in competition for talent and the concept of outside-ownership for law firms, there are various major trends currently impacting the legal profession.
If you’re a legal professional, you need to stay up-to-date about the latest trends. You can then prepare for the future.
Competition for Talent
A recent trend has been for the biggest law firms to spread their operations to lower-cost cities.
That’s good news for lawyers and other professionals working in the legal sector, as there will be many more positions available. However, it also means midsize law firms will find it hard to compete for the best talent.
Although bar rules have always prohibited it, the possibility that non-attorneys could own law firms is starting to generate a lot of interest, and the matter is being much debated.
Indeed, it is so widely debated that it could well become a reality in the near future. Several states have been heading in that direction for years.
In 2019, California made a proposal for non-attorneys to own law firms. The proposal grew from a report that stated the costs of legal services are increasing for everyday clients.
Practitioners greeted the proposal unfavorably. But pressure for change is growing.
Arizona, Illinois, and New Mexico have all made gestures towards liberalizing their bar rules as well. And Utah has adopted a plan to enable accounting firms to provide legal services in conjunction with their accounting services.
So, future owners of law firms may not need to spend months preparing for the LSAT to pass the rigorous exam and get into law school.
More law firms are starting to shift to agile working. With the advent of cloud solutions, more and more legal professionals are working remotely.
The cloud also enables legal professionals to access and update tasks and information on a mobile device at any time and any place.
There are other benefits of using cloud solutions too. For instance, the cloud and mobile devices have helped virtual law firms to gain popularity. Many law firms now operate 100% virtually, thanks to cloud-based technology.
There are many benefits of going virtual. For example, legal professionals can eliminate travel time and costs. In turn, that means they can offer legal services at lower prices.
Data-driven Law Firms
As all lawyers know, collecting and storing large amounts of data can be challenging if you don’t have the right tools. The trend of data-driven law firms is increasing in popularity, and with good reason.
Thanks to AI and machine learning, the complexity of converting collected sets of data into valuable insights has been reduced dramatically.
Also, AI and machine learning technologies enable legal professionals to make better decisions, as those decisions will be based on relevant information rather than personal or intuitive experience.
Read also: How to Start a Legal Blog (and Turn it into Your Career)
New Practice Areas
With various changes happening in the world, new legal practice areas are emerging. Technological innovations are at the forefront of new practice areas.
For instance, legal issues around drones and autonomous vehicles are continuing to expand. Also, sadly, the impacts of climate change are expected to generate diverse lines of new work for law firms in the near future.
Another growing sector that will lead to new legal practice areas is the regulation and legislation of licensed cannabis in the US and some other countries. The cannabis sector is fraught with legal uncertainty and regulation questions, so lawyers should pick up lots of work with regard to those issues.