Guest post by James Grice, head of legal service design at Eversheds Sutherland
In the past 12 months, generative AI and wider AI has become of global interest and created waves in the legal sector. Whilst the potential for these tools to revolutionise it cannot be underestimated, the creation of new roles and then the recruitment and development of people needed to make it work will be just as big.
Recently, I have seen roles like mine – and my legal service design team – become more commonplace. However, this recent acceleration of AI adoption is ever increasing their importance and providing new job opportunities.
This is an exciting development in itself, but the unique nature of this opportunity means that it won’t just be those with a legal background who can enter and contribute to the industry. These legal technology roles can be filled by a wide range of backgrounds, qualifications and thinking – a great advantage for the sector.
A different career path to legal
Looking at my own career path, it is somewhat different to the average legal professional.
I left the education system at the age of 18 after completing my college courses and went straight into work. My first job was with a local financial adviser, getting involved in many different roles across the four years I was there.
This gave me access to many different aspects of running a business. It also allowed me to work closely with high-value clients, learning how to communicate complex topics in an easy-to-understand way and developing my professional writing skills, amongst many other valuable life lessons.
My first step into IT was in the leisure and entertainment sector for the NEC Group. I held a number of roles as I developed my IT skills and leaned more towards business engagement roles rather than the more traditional technical route.
It was only in 2015 that I moved to the legal profession, having picked up a variety of skills on my journey there. This included change management, technical training, project management, solution design and more.
On reflection, this variety of customer-facing work was important because it prepared me for the development path and gave me a diversity of thought I may not have otherwise had.
Growing a legal service design team
Since I joined the legal service design team in 2020, it has grown in number and impact on the business, taking on increasingly strategic projects and sharing our legal service design framework.
This growth has been mirrored in some areas across the industry and we have noticed it more publicly with the rise of AI. The combination of legal expertise with solution design and technology experts has been, and will continue to be, key to delivering products that clients want, designed with them in mind and a clear focus on solving real-world problems.
Understanding and implementing the AI for a diverse range of clients and employees to use has required a diverse range of people in our teams. This requires diverse recruitment and development approaches.
We see that legal technologists come from varied backgrounds and this is something we are seeing more and more with our legal technology graduate scheme as it enters its third year.
An increase in legal tech roles for the future
In a world where so much of the legal process is coming under review and being considered for radical change, it is important to remember that our clients value the human elements of expertise.
As AI becomes an increasing part of the legal toolkit and something clients are frequently talking to us about, a human focus and roles such as mine are increasing in relevance and demand. In this climate, clients want assurances that subject-matter experts have been involved and reviewed any work completed by AI tools.
AI is here to stay and this is a good thing. To make the most of this technology revolution, we have to view how AI can augment humans, not replace them. And this change in how we work will need new skills, people and jobs to make sure that the evolution of law is carried out correctly.
The people required for these roles don’t just come from a legal background, but a hugely diverse range of backgrounds that will not only change the shape of the legal industry workforce, but the way it thinks, solves problems and even interacts with its clients.