3 Key Legal Work Trends Changing the Lives of Legal Professionals

Legal Workplace Trends

Legal work has changed dramatically in the past few years. Robert Half Legal’s Future Law Office research examines how client demands are affecting the delivery of legal services. Here are three tips for adapting to current legal workplace trends:

1. Adopt a business mindset

Corporate legal clients have seen an increase in choice of vendors and access to legal services, which has led them to seek added value from legal counsel. This trend has resulted in law firms developing a business-focused legal work mindset, including specializing their scope of work and creating dedicated legal teams for specific industries. Firms are also creating non-partnership-track positions and building new legal support staff teams. To keep operational costs low, more firms are offering alternative fee arrangements and utilizing cloud computing for some back-office functions. These changes allow firms to meet clients’ budget constraints while delivering high-quality services.

Corporate legal departments are also streamlining their legal work practices to consolidate the network of firms they have on retainer. This change can mean hiring legal professionals on a contract or project basis for specialized or short-term projects or hiring full-time lawyers to move matters in-house.

Read more about the new realities of today's business environment.

2. Bridge the gap between legal and IT

As the complexities of electronic data and cloud computing continue to grow and concerns about data privacy, security and compliance matters escalate, alignment between legal and IT professionals is essential. Eight in 10 lawyers surveyed for the Future Law Office project said their collaboration with IT specialists has increased during the past two years.

Managing eDiscovery requests, an area of overlapping responsibility for legal and IT, has become more complex with teams facing increased demands to collect relevant and responsive information. To reduce review time and to lower costs, legal teams are using predictive coding to sift through large data sets. They also are turning to data specialists and outside vendors to help boost relevancy and efficiency.

3. Make room for next-generation leaders

With baby boomers eyeing retirement, law firms have started to plan for the next generation of leaders. Workplace trends that can drive an effective succession plan for future legal work, include searching for staff diversity in terms of experience and viewpoint, locating potential leaders within the firm, and implementing professional development and mentoring programs.

Looking toward the future, the legal field will continue to be shaped by client demands for quality and value, technological innovations and a dynamic workplace. By monitoring emerging workplace trends, you can help your firm to adjust practice management strategies accordingly and remain competitive in a rapidly changing market.

For further insight into legal workplace trends, download the Future Law Office 2020 report now.