What’s reshaping the legal profession in 2018?
Granted, we are only two months into the new year. While there aren’t specific shakeups that haven’t already been identified in 2017, this year will be marked by two key shifts: 1) Millennial Attorneys, 2) Digital Communities
Millennials (aka, individuals born between roughly 1980 and 2000) are literally taking over the world in 2018. They now makeup the largest generation — 92 million strong in the United States. Clients and colleagues are going to have to learn to live with them.
These legal professionals will be entering the workforce in their early to mid 20s through their early 30s. This new generation holds entry-level associate, paralegal, law clerk and legal support positions in law firms, corporate legal departments, the government and other practice environments. Despite the many negative stereotypes, law firm supervisors have found millennial attorneys to be smart, creative, optimistic, achievement-oriented and tech-savvy. Distinct from the Generation X attorneys, millennial attorneys are marked by a unique desire to seek supervisors and mentors to engage in their professional development. Key factors to consider:
- Millennials multi-task, communicate through email and text, and are accustomed to web-based delivery systems for CLEs and trainings.
- They will Google you, your clients…and everything. Pay attention to your digital footprint and digital presence.
- Millennials enter the legal practice anticipating demanding hours and billable hour quotas—what they expect that is different from previous generations of attorneys is a greater sense of flexibility and autonomy.
- They expect access and feedback—more than previous generations of attorneys, they want it more than just during their formal reviews and evaluations.
Digital Communities have opened entirely new networks for lawyers to engage with. Networks have always been critical for lawyers. Being connected with different communities help lawyers find clients, make referrals, share insights, seek mentors, and develop personally as professionals.
LinkedIn and other platforms (including platforms created by bar organizations) enable lawyers to not only look each other up, but to connect in new and meaningful ways.
Digital communities also mean that there are entire networks of valuable information, now stored online in various quantities and qualities. This explosion of information and data is a unique opportunity for savvy lawyers to take advantage of.
Data now includes paper documents, electronic documents, emails, text messages, and social-media postings—generating about 2.5 exabytes daily—much of which is now stored virtually. This means that understanding and leveraging technology to protect information, to go through the discovery process, secure information, or to communicate privately will all require a new approach. Lawyers willing to embrace the latest technologies and innovations may find new opportunities in eDiscovery.