Findings from The Human v Cloud: 2017 LexisNexis Roadshow Report show that Australian lawyers are increasingly integrating their work and personal lives as technology enables alternate career paths and a focus on personal fulfillment.
The report was created to collate insights garnered from a series of panel discussions with industry thought leaders, held across Australia by LexisNexis. The topics discussed were guided by findings from the 2017 Australian Legal Professional Survey of 508 legal practitioners.
The report shows that the legal industry continues to change significantly as mobile technologies, analytics and machine learning become increasingly prevalent.
Simon Wilkins, General Manager of LexisNexis Australia, said “We’re seeing the emergence of tech-collaborative lawyers – savvy professionals who are essentially partnering with technology to forge ahead with non-traditional career paths.”
This change in the way the industry undertakes legal work is marked by shifting attitudes in three main areas:
Whereas legal professionals previously sought to keep their work and personal lives separate, the report suggests that they are increasingly reaping the benefits of work-life integration, allowing them to get the best of both worlds on their own terms.
39% of survey respondents believed that ‘good work-life balance’ or ‘flexible working arrangements’ were key retention strategies for law firms.
Mr Wilkins said, “Mobile technology has removed the confines of traditional working hours, giving professionals flexibility in when, where, and how they want to work, particularly through tools such as business communication and time management software. “This is the kind of industry lawyers – particularly young lawyers – now expect to work in. One that empowers them to do their best work in a place and at a time that suits them.”
Redefining a successful legal career
Where once lawyers were driven to the profession by the lure of money and prestige, purpose and recognition are now the key drivers of success. ‘Peer recognition as an expert’ was selected as the top indicator of success in legal careers by survey respondents, followed by ‘attaining professional standing’ (25%) and ‘positive work-life balance’ (20%). Annual income sat in fourth place with only 10% selecting it as the key indicator of success. “The mindset of earning your stripes through long hours of research and data work is now gone. Legal professionals want technology to take care of the monotonous work while they spend time on the work they find most fulfilling.” said Mr Wilkins.
The role of the trusted advisor
Whilst speculation on the roles and disruption caused by AI continues, there is agreement across the board that robots will not be able to replace the role of the lawyer as the trusted advisor. “Law is a profession which at the bedrock is built on principle and integrity, and the public looks to the law and the lawyers that practice it to uphold this integrity,” continued Mr Wilkins. “The shift towards a collaborative people-tech paradigm provides lawyers with the opportunity to focus on the elements of legal work that deliver clients value – such as problem solving, offering strategic counsel, and improving access to legal remedy.”
In June 2017, LexisNexis surveyed 508 Australian legal professionals from firms, corporations, government agencies, and a range of other industries, as part of the 2017 Australian Legal Profession Survey. Based on this Survey, LexisNexis convened the Human v Cloud – computing the people factor of legal service event series with six panel discussions across Australia in August 2017, visiting Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney and attracting 250 attendees and 24 panellists, collectively. The results and findings are reflected throughout the Report. The panels brought together industry leaders to discuss the driving force of the legal profession – people. Discussions took place in the context of technology shaking up traditional roles, disrupting business models and propagating an always-on mindset, as well as opening new opportunities for business growth and access to a legal system that did not exist before.