Even though laws and regulations don’t seem to be able to keep up with the current fast pace of the world, the legal profession is not what it used to be a few decades ago. Modern lawmakers and law enforcers have to consider a wide range of new factors and variables (most influenced by and created to support emerging technologies and an evolving global economy).
We can safely say that the modern legal landscape comes with a set of complex challenges for future legal professionals. Therefore, everyone who is now preparing for the Bar examination or just took the exam will get to work with a new, more dynamic legal system.
Even more important, it’s important to understand that progress is mandatory. In today’s day and age, the legal system must keep up with the trends to protect citizens and companies and make sure rights and liberties are respected.
To give you an idea of the magnitude of change that’s already in motion, here are the top five trends that are now reshaping the legal profession.
#1: Work from Home (WFH) & Freelancing
The pandemic forced many Americans and people all over the world to work from home or turn to freelance (as a side job or as a full-time occupation). Now, that things seem to return to some type of normal, companies have to deal with employees who want to continue the WFH lifestyle.
This and the widespread popularity of freelancing (even in the legal industry), led to a new work system that needs the attention of legal professionals. Even more important, with remote work and freelancing, people can now collaborate with companies from all over the world, and the legal work structure needs to quickly adjust to this change.
#2: Legal Tech
Legal technology is an incredibly dynamic field, with new challenging solutions emerging from one month to another. Lawyers working in this field must be tech-savvy and stay up to date with the latest technological trends if they want to be competitive in a fast-changing market.
Also known as digital banking, the rise of FinTech is yet another trend that put lawmakers through a series of difficulties. Starting with companies like PayPal and continuing with online banking solutions, the FinTech sector is now working with intelligent chatbots and algorithms that help users take care of most of their banking needs. However, this trend also raised a wide array of legal issues related to confidential and sensitive data processing and privacy (among others). Lawyers who want to make a name for themselves in this industry have to be knowledgeable in three fields: legal, financial, and tech.
#4: Cyber Security
Cyberattacks, identity thefts, and data leaks are (sadly) quite common these days and lawmakers have a difficult time pinning down the ill-intended actors and helping the victims. Even more, we also need new regulations for cryptocurrencies and other technologies that help improve security (such as blockchain).
Lawyers working in this field also deal with e-commerce regulations, e-contracts, digital signatures, intellectual property rights, and more on the same note.
#5: Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)
Easy access to communication and the increase of tech tools that allow remote collaboration also helped reshape the traditional law firms and legal services. As a result, the trend of LPO or Legal Process Outsourcing is on the rise.
What does this mean?
In short, a law firm can now outsource its services overseas or towards domestic locations in order to cut down costs and increase productivity. This practice is entirely legal (as long as all security protocols are followed) and helps law firms in highly competitive markets stay afloat and even thrive.
The LPO trend is somehow fueled by the increasing number of freelance lawyers or law experts who offer their services online. It’s also a way to allow WFH legal specialists to continue enjoying their current lifestyle while big companies have access to more varied resources.
While we like to believe these trends are fueled by technological and economic development alone, the reality is that the new generation of professionals (yes, millennials) is behind most of these changes. Their reliance on technology and interest in a better work-life balance is the main driver for change in traditionally conservative fields like the legal industry. Of course, the young professionals today are only the starters, as the following generations have a completely different view of the world.