Updated: Jan 9, 2021
Rotary phones, VHS, DOS, encyclopedias, rabbit ears, 8-tracks, and Word Perfect are just some terms of technology past. Every profession has adapted and succeeded using the technology that benefits their industry. That is true for the practice of law, where attorneys for years have dealt with the impact of technology. The difference today is that technology is changing at an exponential rate.
With the help of transformational technologies, AI, and analytics, the future law firm will be more effective and efficient than ever before. According to The Future Ready Lawyer Survey, more than half (53%) of lawyers in the U.S and Europe expect their organization's tech investment to increase in the next three years. The law firm today will be unrecognizable in 5- 10 years with the advancement of these technologies. Litigating will be completely different with the introduction of predictive analytics, which use algorithms and machine learning to interpret data to understand a case and give logical predictions of possible outcomes. The law firm of the future will use AI to enhance the law firm, making it more efficient and accurate. The legal field will become more competitive; solo/small firms will be able to compete with larger law firms using technology to their advantage. Do younger attorneys, having grown up around technology, have an advantage? Are older attorneys resistant to technology? How can attorneys today use technology to improve their practices?
With one of the largest generations, baby boomers, aging, and millennial establishing their careers, there are discussions about how these two generations embrace and use technology to practice law. Caught in between is Generation X, a hybrid of sorts, which grew up before and during the technology boom. More than 74 percent of millennials believe new technology makes their lives easier, compared to 31 percent of Generation X and just 18 percent of baby boomers.1 These three generations, as part of the legal landscape, are all utilizing technology to advance their careers, the practice of law, and forge the future. Millennials are the first generation with the advantage of growing up in an online society. There is a base knowledge of technology with both hardware and software learned through formal education, observational learning, and hands-on usage. Millennial attorneys most likely applied for law school, internships, clerkships, and jobs online. They also grew up with digital tools that help most efforts in life, whether leisure or work activities. When it comes to learning new technology, it is likely easier for this generation because of a lifetime of use. Over 20% of millennials have an excellent understanding of how different technologies impact their work.2 The sandwich generation, Gen X, was caught between two worlds—a world where they learned to type on a typewriter but also needed to use those skills on a computer keyboard. Getting the latest gadget or learning the newest tools could be appealing or an afterthought for Gen X. They are likely in established careers, and technology is a necessity in their day to day work lives. The concepts are not foreign to them, and because of where they are in their careers, they need to be hands-on with technology.
Baby boomers were once the largest generation in the workforce. They are parents and grandparents. They witnessed the moon landing, the development and implementation of computers, a rollercoaster of economic climates, and of course, the dawn and day of the internet.
Learning the latest online tools may not be as intuitive to these generations as the others.
They hit the prime of their career while technology was ramping up and taking over and were decision-makers. They made decisions about technology and whether to get swept up in the tech wave or to stand on the shore.
Although there is varying knowledge within all generations, the generational gap isn't black-and- white with all folks from their generation. What is certain is that there are multiple tech tools and resources available to all attorneys. With the introduction of social media, networks are opening up for all professions but specifically for attorneys. Social media is a valuable source for an attorney. For example, LinkedIn is an excellent way to get referrals, visibility, and to build a reputation as a thought leader. The cloud is changing how attorneys conduct business and balance their lives; no longer confined to a single geographic area. The world is now your office.
Building on that is the on-the-go devices that are accessible to everyone. Smartphones are mini-computers that not only keep users connected, but are research machines. The world of apps has forever changed how we conduct business and our lives. Legal apps are revolutionizing processes from accounting, case management, referrals, and collaboration. LexDock, for instance, is a legal services platform for attorneys and clients that offers lead generation, rate negotiation, a secure discussion platform, file management, case management, and convenience. Portable hardware allows attorneys to scan, print, and create from anywhere. Email, texting, out of the box websites, and web ads make marketing more relaxed and more accessible than ever before. Online tools are even helping attorneys with how they bill clients, making legal services more affordable and accessible.
The newest generation to enter the legal arena is Generation Z. They are likely the first generation to expect more from technology. The 2019 law class was the first from their generation to enter the field, so there will be more to cover as they continue to develop their legal careers.
The future is now, with attorneys leveraging the current technology to meet their needs. Future generations of attorneys won't have the same learning curve as this current segment of working attorneys, so it is essential to remember the challenges our current generations face.
Cassady, Kim. "3 Ways Technology Influences Generational Divides at Work." Entrepreneur, March 29, 2017, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290763. Accessed 16 January 2020
"The Future Ready Lawyer: The Global Future of Law." 2019 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey Report, https://wolterskluwer.com/binaries/content/assets/wk/pdf/news/lr/wkfuture-fit-lawyer-lr-032019.pdf. Accessed 16 January 2020
Abeer Abu Judeh is the founder of LexDock. She has 15 years of legal practice experience holding various positions in private law firms, government, non-profit, solo practice and in-house counsel roles. She uses technology to solve problems for medium and small sized businesses. LexDock is the answer to helping businesses manage their legal affairs and get to business faster. For more information or to join the LexDock network go to www.lexdock.com or contact attorneys@LexDock.com.