Why Lawyers Of The Future Will Need To Wear “Hats”

There’s a strange thing going on between law firms and accounting firms which has led to some pretty unprecedented changes.

(Watch out because the landscape is changing!)

Law firms saw their moats disappear when the “Big Four”—KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY—set the crosshairs on the former’s client base and zone of influence.

In a typical merger & acquisition move, for example, these consulting firms would do just the financials, taxes and organizational matters. Now, they also want sole custody of all that legal work too, keeping established law firms completely out of the loop.

So, not wanting to be outdone, the big law firms are giving the new competition a taste of their own medicine, doing some encroaching of their own, extending the practice into fields like technology and energy. They are expanding into the Big Four’s zone of expertise—well beyond their traditional borders.

This, and similar moves, have resulted in a competitive landscape where age-old legal institutions are offering clients cutting-edge technical and technological consulting.

(MinterEllison’s acquisition of ITNewcom, an IT consulting company, is an intimation of things to come.)

What This All Means?  

It means that, soon, there won’t be much difference between law firms, technology consulting firms, accounting firms, and management consulting firms.

In their bids to be one-stop-shop agencies, industries that used to have very little to do with each other have become direct competitors.

This era of an agency wanting to be “everything” for all clients requires a new breed of leader and worker. To blossom in this age of “hypercompetition”, the individual, in the tradition much like their firms, needs to adapt and stretch his comfort zone.  

Profound changes are already well underway. For example, the routine jobs often assigned to very junior associates can now be automated or offshored to workers in other countries…who may actually have more expertise…at the fraction of the cost.

Software programs can now write legal documents, and even submit them to the courts. Predictive analytics can guide the practice and propose arguments for litigation—computing the probability of success. Machines can even adjudicate disputes in tax law and consumer law.

The issue here is not just staying ahead of the curve, it’s about getting a whole new paradigm. A lawyer for the future needs to adapt. And fast.

For a solid value proposition well into the future, here are three “hats” every future lawyer needs to try on.  

# 1 The Specialist Needs To Become A Generalist

Because firms are getting into areas they are not traditionally known for, individuals from these firms need to do a lot of “self-education.”

Continuous learning is required.

For example, a lawyer needs to go beyond writing legal briefs and dive into an intimate understanding of the business and commercial interests of his clients. He needs to closely grasp market forces, economic indicators and business trends.

Unfortunately, law schools are short on these subjects.

A legal consultant would then be not just looking at the lawfulness or permissibility of a corporate restructuring, but also on the potency of its benefits for the client, and its effects on the competition and industry as a whole. This blurs the line between a legal consultant and a business/management consultant.

Clients would want to hire somebody who can both whack the weeds down below (being a specialist), but also see the big picture—a 30,000 feet view.

Sure, in a team of consultants, there will always be specialists who know narrow-but-deep. But to make it in a world where clients expect more bang for their buck, a sharp legal mind with well-honed business instincts and accounting edge makes for a very compelling argument.

For competitive advantage and for future-proofing one’s career, a lawyer needs to beef up on a slew of competencies in non-legal fields—from engineering, business, psychology to economics.

#2 The Old Needs The New 

Imagine a lawyer who refuses to ride the elevator or use the ATM.

Or imagine a lawyer, perfectly versed on the intricacies of the law, but refusing to adapt to technology. What chance does he have against another who has a full team behind him, outsourcing the research work internationally and having all needed documents sent to his smartphone by the time he wakes up?

In the post-pandemic world, (where all this wrangling will play out), your clients will increasingly be represented by the millennials and digital natives of the world. And in that future, technology will not be the differentiating edge. It will be the standard. It will be the way things are done, routinely.

Technology has and will continually change the game. If you don’t adapt, or if you’re too slow to see those portentous clouds, you won’t be playing the game for long.

The successful lawyers of the future will be technologically proficient or, at least, responsive to new tools and methods.  

It’s a different mindset.

It used to be that displaying a wall of books was a badge of competence. That gesture will soon ring hollow with young clients who has only ever swiped a page left.

A lawyer once proudly showed his partner’s son a complete 32-volume collection of the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was all hardbound and displayed at a place of prominence in the lawyer’s study. The boy gawked at the wall of books, obviously impressed. He said, “Somebody actually printed the whole site?!”  

Imagine having that boy as a client.

#3 Collaboration. Collaboration! COLLABORATION!

Because consulting projects and cases become ever more complex, lawyers of the future will have to collaborate with a wide array of folks—from different fields, practices and geographies.

Gone is the vignette of the solitary lawyer reading and toiling away in the night. It will be a legit team effort composed of legal assistants, researchers and secretaries.

The individual able to tap other’s intellect, experience and expertise will go far in an environment of ultracomplex transactions. Being a generalist, knowing a broad range of stuff, won’t be enough. Collaboration is key and a multidisciplinary approach will be required for tomorrow’s problems.

Teams will be toiling in all hours of the day, from different countries, and using whatever gizmo is available to make the work more efficient, effective and potent. The team can be called and assembled at a moment’s notice and work immediately. They’ll be meeting virtually, escaping the inefficiencies of the daily commute or a cramped office.    

Assembling Your Team

At Kinetic Innovative Staffing, our mission is to help companies and organizations navigate the changes brought about by technology. We search the world over for talent and skill to help client organizations thrive regardless of what the future holds.

“A job well done” requires a village. To the lawyer or the law firm, it’s the full range of admin and staff who works behind the scenes.  

Technology has shaken things up a bit. The internet and the universal accessibility of data has allowed tasks that used to require a physical office or face-to-face interactions to be offshored to remote professionals in other countries.

Kinetic helps you hire remote professionals.

Kinetic holds a rich database of seasoned professionals from the Philippines—able to fill positions from legal assistants, researchers, to virtual secretaries. Should you or your firm require team members who bring expertise, professionalism and creativity to the table, we have brilliant remotely working professionals who can immediately add value to your practice.

But, why go far when there are legal assistants and staff available in your area? Well, because doing so involves serious cuts in labour costs (around 70%). All that, without any drop in the quality of work.

Kinetic takes all the guesswork from the hiring decision, making things straightforward and effortless. The future is already too complicated, let us make things more simple for you.  


Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.

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