Lawyer Monthly hears from Eleanor Weaver, CEO of Luminance, about how technology has become an integral part of finding top legal talent.
The reality is that when it comes to choosing a career path today, the best and brightest graduates have many options. While 30 years ago a career in a law firm or city bank was seen as the career choice to be sought, today’s graduating grades are dealing with a more diverse job market and less “traditional” career paths with the prospect of joining a young and fast one Tech startup, for example, might seem more attractive. Additionally, these younger cohorts, who grew up with technology at their fingertips, are tuned to the tools that are out there and can help them advance their careers.
Tanja Podinic, Global Director of Innovation Programs at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, recently told me that the firm has been asked by its junior attorneys, “What technology are you using? Are we going to be exposed to this? How often are we going to use it? ‘These increasingly tech-savvy incoming trainees expect some level of technological acceptance as the standard in their professional lives, as well as in their personal lives, and come to their potential companies who have an understanding of how these tools work in practice.
For example, just last year Luminance, in partnership with the Scottish law firm Burness Paull and the University of Glasgow, offered a hands-on legal technology course to give law students the opportunity to learn how to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to a real legal matter, all before anything You enter a law firm.
These increasingly tech-savvy trainees expect a certain level of technological acceptance as the standard in their professional lives
It has therefore become clear that the ability of companies to meet the expectations of the next generation and deliver the latest technology is an increasingly important part of attracting these top talent. But it also works in both directions. A recent study by management consultant Robert Half Legal found that more than three in five employers who fill vacancies say their hiring decisions are influenced by an applicant’s technical skills. Developing skills to deal with the latest technology is therefore just as important for aspiring lawyers looking for a competitive advantage.
But it’s not just about attracting these beaming young lawyers, it’s also about encouraging them to stay. The legal industry is no stranger to burnout and job dissatisfaction. A report by the Law Society’s Junior Law Division found that 93% of junior lawyers in England and Wales felt stressed in the month leading up to the survey. A fifth of respondents reportedly felt unable to cope with it on a regular basis.
One of the main causes of the stress observed was the high workload. Young lawyers have traditionally been limited to tedious and tedious tasks such as reading and analyzing hundreds – sometimes thousands – of documents to search for relevant clauses or unusual terms, leaving little time for the high-quality areas of critical thinking and analysis for that they have trained. In some cases, this was made worse by the pandemic, as the perks of most jobs – networking, socializing, and off-site days – were gone, leaving only a stripped-down version of young lawyers and their laptops at the kitchen table.
However, AI plays a huge role in improving junior lawyers’ workload and, in turn, helps keep tomorrow’s partners. By helping legal teams read, understand, and analyze large volumes of documentation, whether it’s during a criminal investigation or a corporate transaction, AI helps lawyers spend less time searching through documents and flagging key clauses, and instead focus more on it focus on understanding what the documents mean, gaining the most important insights and delivering valuable advice to the customer in a timely manner.
Crucially, over 70% of aspiring lawyers believe that legal technology allows them to focus on more demanding work. This comes from a report we did at Luminance last year and shows the importance of this type of technology to job satisfaction and work-life balance. Additionally, advanced collaboration tools are helping young lawyers achieve a closer feedback loop with older colleagues, which has become increasingly critical since the pandemic began.
Jan Smit, Innovation Manager at Slaughter & May recently said to me: “It is very important to us that we have the best legal technology in place to ensure that we attract the best talent and have it available to the younger generation, the Slaughter & Joins Festivities. “It is clear that with the right digital tools in place, companies are best placed to not only attract but retain the most talented young lawyers.