By Legal Futures Associate Flex Legal
Working in law no longer just means being a solicitor or barrister. The legal field has evolved considerably in recent years, and now technology is playing a more important role than ever. This is a trend that is only going to accelerate from here on out. As the industry becomes ever more reliant on technology, and more and more roles outside of a traditional legal route appear within firms, having a good grasp on the latest legal technology is going to become an absolute requirement.
Fortunately, we addressed the new skills that anyone interested in a long-term legal career would need in our latest Junior Lawyer’s Lunch with the help of Christopher Tart-Roberts – Head of Lawtech, at Macfarlanes. Christopher witnessed firsthand how legal technology was becoming increasingly popular throughout his years as a Banking Lawyer, before deciding to pursue legal tech full time. Here’s what he covered in the event:
What does it mean to be a Legal Technologist?
Throughout the legal profession, we have seen a number of new and innovative ways of tackling client problems. These have come from people who have combined law with technology to facilitate better functioning workflows.
Also referred to as; Legal Operations Analysts or Legal Engineers, they work with clients to develop technological solutions to legal issues. Specifically offering advice, services and products that deliver quick and cost-effective resolutions.
Though we mustn’t forget that the law remains at the heart of everything Legal Technologists do. It is still a very much client-centric role that compliments the law with wider skills and expertise.
What does ‘different roles and wider skillsets’ mean in law?
It is important to bring into organisations a more diverse range of professionals, as they will provide a more holistic service to clients. These can involve operational skills, data science, data architecture, product development, product management and many more.
What languages do you know? French, Spanish, Excel? When applying to organisations, this question has most likely appeared in a lot of the applications. We believe it extends far beyond impressive language skills, and rather tests your knowledge of different technical skills. According to Chris, there is an increasing need for digital literacy, which is becoming a part of the base skillset.
What experience do legal tech teams require from us?
Firstly, understanding how a business operates shows you know how a team usually caters for their clients.
Secondly, similarly to the typical training contract route, commercial awareness and general technical skills will help identify new advancements in the field which will add a lot of value to your clients.
And last, but definitely not least, genuine enthusiasm goes a very long way!
The aim of a legal technologist is to be best able to understand a client’s processes and pain points. The role would generally suit those who are inquisitive and creative, drawing on different perspectives and experiences to find solutions.
How can you get more involved with legal technology?
We are seeing larger law firms and organisations incorporating this element within their internal teams, and many are encouraging their employees to join tech communities such as Legal Geek to network, understand the latest products and develop their technical skills.
The variety of routes available in law firms as a result of the introduction of legal tech is becoming easier to break into. If you are interested in pursuing a non-traditional pathway into law, there are many options you can look into:
- Macfarlanes has introduced a two-year graduate scheme for those who want to become legal technologists, where you’ll be working alongside Chris and qualify as a legal tech expert!
- If you are keen on qualifying as a solicitor and equally keen on legal operations, Macfarlanes also offers a trainee seat in their legal tech team as part of the traditional training contract route.
- Eversheds Sutherland also offers the opportunity to qualify as a Legal Technologist within their team.
- Legal In-house teams such as Deloitte have also opened their Legal Technologist Programme.
The diversity of routes within the law is continuing to expand and it has already proven to create individuals that have driven a positive change in this so-called archaic industry, and introducing digital natives into organisations will help future-proof legal careers and the profession as a whole.