Law + tech: the next generation

16 July 2021

In April, we opened applications for our first ever lawtech graduate scheme - a two year programme offering exposure to legal technology in action. The quality of applications was outstanding and we’ve just had offers accepted by our first cohort.

Below are some thoughts on how law + tech is opening up new career options in law, what these new entrants bring to the profession and how the practice of law is continuously evolving.

Fresh perspectives

Two things struck me in particular from the applications we received and the assessment centres we ran for the scheme. Firstly, how fresh and diverse the candidates’ perspectives were - not being encumbered by the “usual way of doing things” allows them to be creative and to challenge, to see pain points and to spot opportunities that might not occur to those schooled in doing things a certain way. We can all benefit, and learn, from that. Secondly, how much commitment to, and excitement for, a long term career in legal tech there is out there. Law + tech is something these candidates are passionate about in its own right, not as a stepping stone to something else.

We were blown away by the number and calibre of applications we received. We had applications from candidates studying a broad range of subjects and from universities right across the UK and from overseas. During the interviews and presentations we had discussions on such varied topics as: 

  1. the importance of client-centricity; 
  2. the power of data; 
  3. automation, AI, machine learning and DLT; 
  4. interoperability; 
  5. risk and liability issues; 
  6. the billable hour model; 
  7. the role of legislators, regulators and industry bodies in the development of legal tech; and
  8. future skills.

It’s clear that there is significant knowledge and interest out there, and that brings with it diversity of insight and new perspectives.

Lawtech in practice

There’s no denying that emerging legal technologies, new tools and alternative approaches are driving significant change within the legal profession – allowing us to enhance and streamline the services we already provide to clients, as well as allowing us to go further and offer clients a whole new range of products and services which are enabled by those technologies. To fully capitalise on those opportunities though, it’s important for us to recognise that new capabilities and expertise are required. We need a range of business professionals, each contributing critical and complementary expertise, to succeed. That’s why we were really excited to launch the scheme and why we’re proud to be one of the few firms offering this sort of opportunity.

Recognising the value of further diversity and additional perspectives, we’ve also recently made the decision to build out the scheme further by adding an apprenticeship stream. We hope it’ll allow us to open up a career in law to candidates who might not have otherwise considered it.

As well as bringing in new expertise, diversifying the skillset of those performing longer-standing roles in firms mustn’t be overlooked. We’ve been offering a trainee seat in our lawtech group since 2020 and that’s allowed the trainees who’ve spent time with us to immerse themselves in the world of legal tech for six months, to get under the skin of the technologies we use and explore the potential. Those trainees have been able to think about client service and service delivery in a different way, get hands-on with building digital solutions for our clients, be involved in how we market those solutions and take part when we pitch them to clients. The experience, and the skills that our trainees get to develop during the seat, will be invaluable, wherever their career takes them on qualification. It’s an important part of equipping the next generation for the future of legal practice.

Continuous evolution

Looking at all these initiatives together, it really stands out to me how much the profession is continuously evolving. Clients’ needs and expectations are evolving, what we do for clients is evolving, and so the expertise we need is evolving. 

It’s important to take a moment every now and again to recognise that evolution and to celebrate the opportunities that offers, particularly for those who are just entering the profession.

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