Becoming a lawyer today and in the years ahead, requires a range of skills that the old guard of lawyers probably don’t possess. In an increasingly competitive field, new technology skills, enhanced communication skills and being familiar with everything from social media to modern project management software, counts toward being an effective lawyer for a firm.
Millennials and those just embarking on their first steps into legal qualifications will be a different breed of lawyer in terms of the world they grew up in and the way they use technology. For this reason, we should look at how the nature of law firms, or rather those who work in them, will evolve in accordance with the changes in our legal, business and technological environment.
The New Speed of Intelligence
There are predictions that AI will impact on professional services in terms of analysis capabilities, processing and qualifying information. Expert systems already exist in the form of Smart Apps today, for example. Smart Apps allow legal questions to be answered instantaneously. They decipher complex content, use algorithms and formulate an expert analysis in the blink of an eye.
If you want to ask a specific question about your legal position – the Smart App will tell you in moments. In a world where businesses face new regulatory restrictions and monitoring at every turn a Smart App is an efficient way to keep up to speed with laws without investing a lot of time and money. The new lawyers will be trained and savvy in these kinds of tools.
What’s startling to many lawyers today is the speed of change. We are in an era when innovation is ploughing through time at a rate that leaves popular software and tech redundant within months in some cases. Keeping aligned to this is wise for any professional service to remain relevant, so adapting continually to the online capabilities will be a big plus.
Any lawyer that ‘bawks’ at the mention of social media as an important professional tool is unaware of its tremendous business power. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more – are all powerhouses of connection. They are rife with activity when it comes to pitching, networking and getting business. What’s more, it’s changing all the time in the way it’s used and each social media appeals to a precise demographic. For a lawyer to reach out and target clients, social media is a must.
A competent legal advisor, working for companies, will need to be understandably able to have some acumen when it comes to business, from the operational processes to the survival needs and requirement for growth. Legal considerations are but one cog in the business machine. Understanding risk, financial implications and how the business is best served to move forward is all very important to comprehend when you are in their service to aid their success. Having an articulate individual explain all the considerations and consequences in a legal situation within a business context, will make lawyers highly valued as business advisors, as well as legal advisors.
Markets are so competitive these days that lawyers can play a part in that competitiveness if they have a deep understanding of business. Sometimes, learning a specialism will give the edge too, as opposed to being a generalist.
Emotional Intelligence or EI, today, has the same or more value than IQ in many situations. For one, EI is something humans have that machines cannot yet emulate intricately. As a leadership quality EI is now seen as one of the most important. For lawyers to lead in business situations they need to be aware, need to constructively communicate and work well with different clients and businesses. The modern lawyer benefits greatly from having the ability to work with different personalities, led by a developed EI. Not having EI means you may be perceived as arrogant, selfish and it’s possible it can destroy relationships that could otherwise work well.