The 3 big changes affecting the legal industry today - an expert recruiter's perspective

by Jennifer Donnelly in Articles

DatePosted on March 15, 2019 at 05:52 PM
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Changing Times?

The legal industry has always been impacted by external factors such as the economy, market competitors, legislation and regulation, and clients themselves.  The bottom line - legal practitioners are experiencing a growing need to continually deliver more for less.

The world is changing faster than we think (Photo credit: Jens Johnsson)

As specialist legal recruiters, we also need to bear these factors in mind, especially in such a highly candidate-driven market with particular practice areas and specialist expertise in high demand.

During the past 5 to 10 years, economies worldwide have experienced enormous changes, influencing and reshaping the legal industry and how legal services are delivered to the market. The legal industry is traditionally slow in reacting to changes and it takes time for them to adapt and apply new systems to their business operations. I have worked closely with many international law firms, multi-national corporations and professional services firms in Hong Kong. Below are some of the key factors I have seen that have impacted the legal industry over the past several years. 

Economy

With a strong and active global economy, it's normal to see a steady growth in investment and M&A projects in the region, resulting in strong deal pipelines and a high demand for highly experienced corporate lawyers in the legal market. Businesses require corporate lawyers to advise on a broad range of legal matters related to these transactions from joint ventures, IPOs, private equity and venture capital investments, to mergers and acquisitions.

In addition, expertise in other areas such as taxation law, intellectual property and finance is also affected by this uptick in investment activity.  So, how about when the economy is experiencing a downturn?  In such circumstances, law firms are more likely to be building their teams in the commercial litigation, arbitration and other contentious practice areas to support a shift in market conditions, protect client interests and to settle disputes. 

Technology

Advancements in software and technology, and more recently – Artificial Intelligence (AI), cryptocurrencies and blockchains are definitely some of the most discussed topics in recent years! Advanced technology such as AI has been making its appearance in many businesses with the aim to ultimately improve efficiency and productivity. Although AI is not prevalent in many law firms yet, advances in CRM software and systems upgrades have enabled law firms to deliver their services to clients in a more interactive way.  Clients look for added value in the legal services they pay for, and law firms globally have adapted to such demands by implementing new and savvy systems, allowing for legal professionals to deliver a more streamlined work product, and giving clients ready access to information they require.

Regulations

As we all know, businesses are obligated to a vast array of regulatory and compliance requirements, and are required to demonstrate their policy of standard best-practice, monitoring and remedy procedures – and the legal industry is no exception.  Taking the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) as a recent and topical example, this new regulation has global implications – businesses worldwide are required to comply with the protection of personal data and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and Economic Area.  This translates into additional cost for many businesses who rely on legal advice to develop and assist in delivering compliance to this policy. 

Is the growth of technology creating a positive impact on the society? (Photo credit: Ilya Pavlov)

We have seen law firms and other organisations, unfortunately, experiencing a persistent stream of heavy cyber-attacks. This has resulted in an urgent need to invest in software and other technology that allows them greater control in protecting sensitive data from cyber hackers and those with malicious intent.  And this all demands professionals not just with strong legal and technical skills, but an additional tech-savvy mindset to navigate the technological advancements.

What else do you think is having an impact on the legal industry?

Let us know your thoughts!

 

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About the Author

Jennifer Donnelly

Jennifer is an Associate Director at Star Anise.  A seasoned legal recruiter and careers expert with over 12 years' knowledge of the Hong Kong legal recruitment industry, she has been at the forefront of many major lawyer moves in the city.  

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