By Emma Hatto, Head of Product for Legal and Professional Services at Legal Futures Associate Advanced
It’s no secret that law firms tend to push back against change, preferring the more traditional, tried-and-true method with the stability it brings. Over the course of Law 2.0, most firms, at 70%, were against implementing new technologies into their practices, but as we progress further into the digital age with the advent of Law 3.0, it is becoming more essential than ever to embrace the new way of working. The question now arises: what will law firms look like five years from now?
Legal technology will become the leader in staying competitive
In 2028, technology will continue to lead the way and will be used even more widely throughout the legal industry. With the rise of data analytics, case management software, and artificial intelligence (AI), there will be an increase in automation of mundane tasks such as document review. Law firms will invest in robust systems to streamline processes, allowing them to provide efficient and more affordable services. Technology will help law firms serve clients better and maximise productivity while reducing costs.
Hybrid working will not only be commonplace but expected
The COVID-19 pandemic made remote work the new normal, and an obvious prediction is that it will be adopted even more widely in the years to come. Law firms will adopt the concept of “smart working,” offering their employees a hybrid environment with set days in the office. They will use a blend of shared space and agile work policies to ensure that employees can work from anywhere. This flexible approach will help accommodate employees’ diverse work-life balance needs while also benefiting the firm by attracting a broader range of talent.
Lawyers will find technology indispensable to progress work
Technology is no longer a novelty but an indispensable tool that shapes day-to-day operations. From the moment lawyers step into their sustainably designed offices or log in from their remote workspaces, technology facilitates their tasks. Automation will streamline complex and repetitive processes, such as document review and contract management.
The hybrid environment, fostered by video conferencing tools and collaborative platforms, promotes flexibility and efficiency. In this new-age office, technology will take away the repetitiveness of tasks and the volume of administrative work while keeping teams connected. Legal professionals will have more time on their hands to get involved in the work they want to focus on, meaning we may even see more defined roles in firms.
Firms will have adapted to client calls to be ‘always-on’ and transparent
Clients appreciate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness brought about by automation and digital solutions. They value the convenience and transparency of interacting with their legal advisors through secure online platforms, irrespective of geographical boundaries.
Furthermore, they respect firms that exhibit a commitment to sustainability and diversity, seeing it as a reflection of their own values. So, law firms that are quick to adapt to technological advancements and uphold progressive practices are more likely to meet and exceed client expectations, fostering long-term relationships.
Firms will also need to show they are environmentally sustainable
Sustainability is increasingly becoming a priority for companies; and no doubt law firms will join the trend. The offices of the future will have environmentally friendly designs and prioritise saving energy, reducing carbon footprint and waste production.
Furthermore, they may actively engage their employees in sustainability initiatives, fostering a culture that promotes eco-conscious behaviours both inside and outside the workplace. By aligning their values with the global push for environmental responsibility, law firms can set an example for the legal industry and contribute meaningfully to a greener and more sustainable future.
Lawyers will reach a tipping point with their mental well-being, and firms will have to adapt to retain and attract talent
Inclusivity and diversity will continue to be essential in 2028, law firms will have to embrace both internal and external diversity. This means that they will need to recruit and retain a diverse team of lawyers who can cater to the diverse needs of clients.
Law firms will also deploy diversity and inclusivity initiatives to ensure that everyone is welcome and working together towards the same goals. By embracing both internal and external diversity, law firms in 2028 will not only be well-equipped to address the complex legal challenges of a diverse client base but also set a standard for inclusivity within the legal profession.
The future of law firm offices looks bright, with law firms embracing technological advancements like AI and data analytics and a shift towards flexible and diverse working environments. Law firms are gradually putting sustainability and inclusivity at the forefront of their design, leading to offices that cater to both the needs of employees and clients. With these changes, we expect law firms to be better positioned to adapt to new challenges and become more agile in the years to come.