Times have changed and are still changing rapidly in legal services. In the Google era, where information is readily accessible and with new technologies encroaching on every aspect of professional services, a new set of skills is needed for the modern legal professional to remain competitive. Beyond the technology, there are also soft skills that are now expected from lawyers that in the old days were simply not considered important. So, what do you need these days to be a competitive legal professional?
In the age of information and communication, lawyers are under pressure to deliver more for their buck. As we embark on 2017, whilst there are no flying cars hovering over the streets, there are arguably equally innovative new technologies in the business world that really impact on professional services, particularly for lawyers.
Not so long ago lawyers could make do not knowing their Excel spreadsheet from their elbow but it pays today to have a lawyer that is well versed in everything from social media to CRM systems.
Bright young Millennials know their technology intuitively and are capable of navigating a wide range of business software as a standard skill. This makes the new, rising generation of lawyers more adept, more efficient at processes and it means that lawyers in general are squeezed to do more for their time and cost.
So what IT skills does the modern lawyer need?
Let’s start with the examples mentioned previously, social media and CRMs. Social media is not something many lawyers might want or see as necessary to embrace. However, with the fact that referral and selling services is prolific on social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook, the difference to being hired or not may one day count on the social media page or profile when potential clients are checking services out.
Another technology, CRMs or Customer Relationship Management systems makes the process of keeping and managing clients easier and there is also financial software for managing the billing. All these things used to be the reserve of other departments or people but today, increasingly easy to run software is there to drive efficiencies in processes, therefore relying on the lawyer to do the work – selling services, managing clients’ time and processing invoices.
The Era of the Super Lawyer
It’s no longer safe to cosy up in a specialism. Looking to wider contexts and business is something the modern lawyer should do. It’s about being flexible, to keep learning and keep up with the ever shifting environments of business and trade. This is especially relevant in times of massive change, such as with Brexit.
It’s important for lawyers to understand business, to have business acumen. They must focus on the Service part of Legal Service, to understand how legal skills will profit and protect a client’s business in the best way. Once this is understood, commercial lawyers can end up sitting on the board of companies as key advisors.
An emphasis these days is less on IQ but rather EI, which stands for Emotional Intelligence. For those that do not want their positions to be upstaged by automation and technology, knowing the intricacies of EI – the awareness of how others perceive and feel – will serve well and can set a lawyer apart as a proficient leader. We hear that AI, Artificial Intelligence, is the new star in legal services but replacing Emotional Intelligence will be a lot harder for machines.
At all times, the modern commercial lawyer needs to project themselves as a leader, a capable orator and be well versed in various aspects of life, technology and business. This way the profession will never be side-lined and slip into extinction, it will remain as it should, as the key player in any commercial situation.