As legal representatives position themselves to survive the turbulent days of the UK leaving the European Union, many different trends have started emerging that will also affect the way that the legal industry operates.
The majority of these legal industry trends are positive and will help businesses operate with more efficiency while other trends have come about as a result of changing attitudes and demographics.
- Social media networking
Like the majority of industries, social media continues to transform the business and practice of law and will do so for many years to come. Legal professionals within the UK have access to a growing number of social media networks and can perform a myriad of legal tasks by utilising them. Social media is changing the way legal professionals manage their careers, network, job search and in some cases, locate witnesses. These platforms also act as essential marketing tools. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are helping legal professionals reach broader audiences and accomplish brand development goals.
- Virtual legal companies
The advancement in technology particularly mobile devices now allows legal professionals to work remotely and virtually from anywhere. Virtual legal offices provide a very different alternative compared to a traditional corporate style office and offer a different way of practicing law together with better working hours and a work/life balance. Virtual working is allowing more and more legal professionals to serve their employers and client base while modifying their professional lives to fit their personal and family needs.
The competitive and growing global market is now seeing many different law films at breaking point with the workload. The pressure to do more work for the same money and with fewer resources is now forcing many employees to sacrifice their personal lives to work longer and harder. And, management is starting to recognise this even more and introducing many new workplace policies including compressed part-time work, flexi-time, and telecommuting.
- Working in a multi-generational industry
For the first time in the UK’s history, four different generations are collaborating and working alongside each other. Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and The Silent Generation, are now creating new workforce dynamics and culture. However, it does come with challenges as many companies especially those within the legal space are trying to balance a generation gap of more than 50 years between their youngest and oldest employees.
- New methods of legal service delivery
Solicitors are no longer the keyholders with the law. The legal environment is dramatically changing, and anyone can seek legal assistance from an ever-increasing number of non-solicitor professionals such as document writers, self-help sites, virtual assistants and even chatbots. These contemporary options are now bringing affordable services to the poorer populations and giving all citizens legal empowerment. As the cost of professional legal services continues to increase, these new methods of service delivery will become a lot more popular.
- The outsourcing of workloads
A business that does everything in-house have much higher research, development, marketing, and distribution expenses, all of which must be passed on to customers when selling their services.
The new methods of legal service delivery are also increasing the amount of work that law firms outsource to external legal vendors. This new method of outsourcing is causing a shift in the way businesses operate and transforming the way that they practice law. Outsourcing workloads is particularly beneficial for small companies who do not have the resources to hire internal professionals with the expertise that larger companies have.
However, while there are many viable and positive reasons why outsourcing can be useful there can also be some rather significant disadvantages and threats. These could include –
- Staff at the company may feel threatened and disposable.
- It could result in redundancies taking place.
- Risks of a data breach.
- Problems with communication if the outsourced company is located overseas.
- Little control over the procedure.
More and more companies are introducing eco-sustainability goals principles into their businesses, and they are doing so by pursuing goals that go far beyond. For example, saving money on energy, developing greener products, motivating employees, all of which help companies capture real value through growth and return on investment. And as more companies see going green as a priority, green law initiatives are affecting legal practices. In response to the various pressures surrounding global warming and the health of the planet, legal professionals are aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and promote social responsibility.
- Different ways of billing clients
Law firms are embracing new ways of alternative billing as a way to meet the needs of clients that are conscious of the rising costs of legal services. The traditional billing model within the legal industry has typically been billing by the hour whereas now more businesses are in favour of billing models such as fixed, flat, blended or capped fees.