Post-Covid-19 practice for young lawyers: an entrepreneurial partner or a technological associate?
BLP, Costa Rica
Covid-19 has brought about a financial crisis and an employment crisis. According to Thomson Reuters, ‘law firm revenue will take a hit and layoffs are likely on the horizon, as demand for certain legal work drops and clients take longer to pay bills as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic’. As markets contract, law firms will need leaner structures and we might also see an increase in gig economy structures for legal services. This new reality will present, in my opinion, an excellent opportunity for young lawyers in law firms, as many of the required skills in this new reality have already been mastered by the digital generation.
As with any crisis, Covid-19 will make us re-evaluate our ways of working. Even after lockdown finishes, old behaviours will not return. Attorneys must understand that humans create value by solving problems. There will be new problems to solve and lawyers must focus on that in order to remain relevant in this new society. This entrepreneurial thinking is not something in which lawyers are traditionally trained, but those lawyers who understand this entrepreneurial mindset will surely succeed in this new reality. Law firms must start thinking like start ups again. Young lawyers have to understand that no idea is bad for reinventing a business and that this is also the time to be vocal about their ideas. The youth and minorities have a better understanding of many of the real-life problems that they have encountered across the world. Any young lawyers with ideas on how to reinvent the workplace, who feel comfortable being vocal in an assertive and constructive way about these ideas, will definitely be more visible for the partner positions that will be open in law firms.
Another crucial impact of this crisis is that technology will have a key role in the success of law firms. With just a few exceptions, millennials – who grew up with digital technology – feel more comfortable working remotely and adapting to new technology. Young lawyers who want to become partners of law firms should assume active roles in seeking the best technology available and helping less-technically able individuals adapt to the technology.
Additionally, senior lawyers and managing partners should be promoting innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and asking the whole organisation to provide ideas to renovate the legal workplace. This will generate a sense of belonging within the organisation, which is crucial during times of remote working.
For those practising lawyers who are not involved in law firms, there are promising opportunities in the gig economy solutions that the legal market will need. Anyone who develops a gig economy solution to the legal services will probably be very successful, as will be anyone who can adapt to this model of work.