For lawyers, the holidays are the perfect opportunity to savor the intoxicating beverage of success while toasting clients and colleagues. Every year around this time, attorneys start planning-ahead based on the advice of legal industry insiders and economic trends. As 2020 plays out, law firms, corporate counsel departments, and legal recruiters will all be faced with fresh challenges that could be difference-makers by the time December finally rolls around again.
We’ve updated our popular list of trends from last year, and while some things return in this year’s list, we’re seeing several surprises as we look towards 2020, including: the explosion of online legal communities, shifts in generational power, integration of virtual (and augmented) reality in legal settings, and two familiar faces – legal process outsourcing and e-discovery. As you plan for next year, make sure to take these 5 legal trends into consideration.
Online Legal Communities
Lawyers have always depended upon community to survive, as it helps them share information, locate clients, mentor one another and make cross-referrals. But new digital attorney communities that exist outside of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are starting to pop up. One of the largest is called LawyerSmack, an online discussion forum with 100+ dedicated channels and hundreds of members that allows legal professionals to privately:
- Mentor and inspire fellow lawyers around the world
- Learn from other members
- Share common interests and job opportunities with colleagues
If you’re a legal professional who’s contemplating the future, these online legal communities have got to be on your radar screen.
There are an estimated 73 million Americans born between 1980 and 2000 who are members of the Millennial Generation. Based on sheer numbers and purchasing power, millennials have now become an even more influential group than baby boomers as a target audience for your firm’s marketing and hiring practices.
Here are some ways to attract millennials as 2020 plays out:
- Ensure that your digital footprint and Web presence is positive, because millennials will Google you.
- Provide them with regular feedback and constant access through online platforms.
- Accurately present your law firm’s mission on your website because millennials want to know the “why” behind what exactly it is that you do.
- Millennials despise rigid concepts like billable hours, so offer them more flexible options, like alternative billing methods, while showing them that your firm also embraces new technologies that give them instant access at all times.
Unless you’re an avid video gamer, you may not be familiar with virtual reality (VR) technologies. But as a lawyer, you may very soon find yourself participating in a trial where the attorneys, jurors, judge and witnesses all do so virtually. Today’s VR capabilities allow a participant to feel like they are sitting right there in the courtroom listening to a witness testify even though that witness is really located several hundred miles away.
However, full-blown VR courtroom proceedings may still be a few years away because of glitches like complying with all the standard rules of evidence. With respect to 2020, you may want to consider outsourcing some of your firm’s administrative duties as a cost-saving measure to virtual legal assistants like:
- Contract attorneys
- Virtual paralegals
- Freelancing law students
- Legal court reporters and transcriptionists
Legal Process Outsourcing
The use of legal process outsourcing, or LPO, actually began in the 1950’s. Driven by the Internet and globalization, LPO today is now a common practice that transfers some of the job responsibilities for attorneys, paralegals and other law professionals to outside sources in the U.S. or abroad. LPO service providers have become more prevalent the past few years because they allow firms to:
- Expand their in-house capabilities
- Improve the flexibility of personnel and resources
- Enjoy faster turnaround times
- Connect with outside talent
- Lower their operating expenses (Legal employees in overseas markets typically earn up to 70% less than their U.S. counterparts!)
Electronic discovery, or “e-discovery”, is an LPO process whereby firms hire outside professionals who use digital technologies to more quickly and efficiently find, manage and store legal data so it can be used to settle lawsuits. As an alternative to traditional “paper-shuffling” between litigants, e-discovery has become a more efficient way for attorneys to manage stacks of paper files by organizing the same information in click-accessible ones.
Legal Recruiters That Help You Anticipate Change
As you’ve seen, anticipating and planning for change in the legal profession can be challenging. Whether you’re a talented attorney who’s actively or passively seeking a career change, or the hiring KDM for a law firm or corporate counsel department, legal staffing agencies listed on the Legal Recruiter Directory understand legal trends and can help make the process more seamless and rewarding.
That’s because better legal recruiters and the recruiting firms they represent have the insider contacts, electronic screening capabilities and placement resources to confidentially locate and place attorney candidates with potential employers so that all parties involved benefit. To search now for a good legal placement firm in your zip code, please visit the Legal Recruiter Directory.