A February 2016 “Insight Report” from Deloitte takes a close look at the future of the practice of law in the UK, and urges firms to make plans immediately to prepare for changes that are likely to upend the entire profession within a decade. “Indeed, by around 2020,” says the report, “we expect a tipping point for firms which will impact the competitive landscape and the role of talent in law firms.”
The report, entitled Developing Legal Talent: Stepping into the Future Law Firm, points to three key areas where change has already affected how law firms operate: “the quickening pace of technological development, shift in workforce demographics, and the need to offer clients more value for money.” Deloitte predicts that law firms that fail to move away from traditional models in order to address these and related issues could well be out of the competition by 2025. The risk is particularly high for mid-sized firms.
The authors of the Deloitte report recommend that law firms begin to develop appropriate business strategies to ensure their continued ability to serve clients in the legal areas of their choice and expertise. (Of course, firms first need to conduct a realistic evaluation of the odds of their preferred areas of practice remaining viable into the future, given evolving client needs and technological advancements.) Identification of clear business strategies will allow firms to develop complementary strategies for the hiring and the deployment of human resources (aka “talent”) to ensure that they can move toward their goals.
The Deloitte report goes on to predict that three “talent pools” will “form the structure of front-office employees within the law firm of the future”: 1) partners and leaders, 2) traditional, permanent staff, and 3) non-traditional and transient employees, including “project managers, sales executives, deal makers, data and technology experts as well as lawyers.”
The report is thorough, and I highly recommend you read it. A great introduction can be found at Legal Futures, where Nick Hilborn has written an intelligent overview of Deloitte’s findings and predictions in an article entitled, “Law firms that fail to change ‘no longer sustainable’ after 2020, report predicts.”
I am interested to know if your firm has taken steps to adapt to the disrupted future that is closer than most of us could have anticipated even a few years ago – and if so, what those changes are. Let me know your thoughts on this or any other matter, either in the comments section below or directly via email.