Skills for lawyers in the digital age - how to future-proof your practice

The CrowdJustice Team

posted on 11 Jun 2019

What are the key skills to future-proof your legal practice? Automation, changing client demands and new generations of workplace tech are poised to significantly alter the type of talent required by law firms and in-house legal departments, according to the Law Society’s report: Future Skills for Law.

We’re living through an exciting time of technological change which is presenting countless opportunities to innovate in ways which benefit both your clients and the wider legal profession. 

Here are the top skills that we think are a must-have for any lawyers navigating this brave new world.


Tech-savvy, human focused

“For a long time, simply ‘knowing the law’ was the sole requirement for lawyers to deliver legal services. Those days are over.”

Professor Mark A. Cohen, CEO of Legalmosaic, recognises how technology stands to disrupt legal services. 

For today’s tech generation, he actually highlights emotional intelligence (EQ) as a key skill to complement the technological, problem-solving and data analysis elements which are fast becoming core component of every job in the legal sector (and beyond!)

As technology becomes widely adopted in law firms, a “back to basics” focus on relationship building and good advice will be the go-to behaviours of the digital lawyer. Supporting this approach, automation of administrative, repetitive and time consuming tasks will liberate lawyers to focus on better serving clients.

Fostering innovation

“Lawyers and innovators are both problem-solvers at heart. Lawyers are trained to find problems, but might not be equipped to solve them in the easiest way. Entrepreneurs learn to find the quickest viable solutions and help lawyers automate tasks which solve clients’ problems.”

An innovation mindset is a core skill for both lawyers and start-up founders. Our CEO here at CrowdJustice, Julia Salasky, can certainly attest to that - having worked both in legal practice and the legal tech innovation space. 

The law is often characterised as an entrenched and non-technical industry. Firms and fee-earners alike tend to default to tried-and-tested methods where opportunities to streamline processes and leverage innovation might exist. 

Building out your team with solutions-oriented and open minded lawyers has been proven to unearth new opportunities, tools and working styles. We’ve seen first hand how these have had a marked difference on the firm’s ability to serve their clients - and it makes lawyers’ lives easier too!

Driving the technology agenda

“If you don’t have a group of leaders within your business supportive of technology and you’re sitting there as a junior lawyer with all sorts of ideas for rethinking legal services… you’re probably not in the right business...”

Professor Richard Susskind, IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice and co-author of ‘The Future of the Professions’, believes that innovation in law firms often comes from forward-looking leadership. Firms that don’t support new ideas become less attractive prospects for the modern workforce.

In other words, willingness to embrace innovative solutions and driving a technology-focused agenda set firms and individuals apart in the competitive legal market.

While law firms and in-house legal teams are busy building innovation expertise, those falling behind the times will fail to attract the best talent, fail to get the most from their fee earners, and risk missing out on massive chunks of the market. On the other hand, those agile enough to bring their practice into the digital age stand to generate the most revenue and do the best work for their clients.

Blending business and technology

"If we think about the skill set required, it is much more about a depth of understanding of business and the technological solutions available. That’s not necessarily to say that all lawyers will need to be coders, but we will need to understand how the algorithms have come up with the solutions."

Combining business insight with an understanding of technology enables lawyers to get ahead and provide real value to clients, says Christina Blacklaws, President of the Law Society and Chair of the Ministry of Justice's Law Tech delivery panel.

Tech is the most prominent disruptive force in the legal industry - its impact has barely been felt so far. By prioritising the adoption of new technologies in the legal sector, the Law Society demonstrates its commitment to LawTech as a driving force for the future of legal work.

Firms and individuals embracing this aspect of commerciality will provide the best service to their clients. The most talented will not only have honed their research and advisory skills, but they'll have made the commercial and legal tech world their comfort zone.


Future-proofing legal skills

The future of legal work and the professional workforce faces dramatic change driven by technology, and an accompanying change in mindset. The core skills required for lawyers to be market-ready are already shifting to align with the tech-savvy needs of tomorrow.

Why wait to up-skill your practice? In the competitive legal market, the future is now.

Find out how we’re helping firms leverage technology to fund legal work:

Download our Lawyer Guide

Questions? Contact us: [email protected].

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