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Innovation, talent attraction and retention and institutionalization, the new challenges in the legal profession

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The main challenges facing the legal market are encompassed by changes in the relationship with clients, the attraction and retention of talent, and innovation.

The legal profession has undergone substantial changes, which has given rise to a new breed of client who is empowered to set the terms and conditions in the procurement of legal services.

Todays young professionals have a different business mindset compared to that of traditional jurists. They see the execution of their functions and responsibilities not only within the legal context, but also in terms of what the industry and sector needs in which they work needs. In the same way, company’s today need lawyers not only to resolve legal issues but also to support their business development efforts, which demands, along with the standard deep level of legal knowledge, a jurist with the knowledge, training and tools in areas such as business, technology, project management or data analysis, among other soft skills. In this context, let us analyze the three main challenges the legal industry is currently facing.


Attracting and Retaining Talent, a key factor

The new generations have a different outlook on the legal profession. Their perpetual connectivity and technological know-how enables them to work in a nontraditional way, breaking away from the traditional model. At job interviews, candidates are interested in the culture of the law firm, whether it can meet their expectations, the flexibility of the work schedule, etc. Millennials work differently and must be motivated differently, one more reason for law firms to revise a number of policies and procedures to get the best results from them. Likewise, it is crucial to understand that today’s young lawyers from this new generation don’t want a boss; they prefer to have a leader that they not only will learn from but who will also be their mentor and friend.

Another aspect to consider is that the new professionals are accustomed to responsiveness, having a flow of information and getting instant gratification that does not necessarily have to be based on money. They want to have clear assignments and understand what is expected of them. This brings about the need to do periodic evaluations. Talent management needs to be sophisticated and its impact and the contribution of each team member must be measured differently.

Innovation should not be seen as a trend, but rather the result of a need that demands a revision of processes and policies in order to keep achieving goals and objectives and better serve the client.


The importance of innovation

Within the context of a firm, innovation should not be seen as a trend, but rather the result of a need that demands a revision of processes and policies in order to keep achieving goals and objectives and better serve the client. Innovation is the outcome of a demonstrated need and is not a matter of merely introducing a change, something that often finds resistance. Traditionally, lawyers are resistant to change; this reality is a constant in the profession. In addition to innovating based on needs, it must also be done while keeping in mind that the mission of innovation is to better serve the client.

As for artificial intelligence, the wisdom is not to compete against it, but rather with it. It is not intended to replace lawyers or launch robot lawyers to compete with humans. New technologies and metadata trends need to be seen as tools that can be used to empower and redistribute the necessary people, technology, and financial resources to do more with less, better serve clients and get lawyers to progressively focus more specifically on the areas in which deep knowledge of legal matters is truly required.


Institutionalization and Legacy

Institutionalization at a law firm means having the complete framework of governance, clear policies, a regulatory system for all aspects related to the operation and a compensation plan tailored to the needs and realities of the firm. In this regard, it is essential to have policies that help clarify the vision, mission, and culture of the firm, so that all of its professionals identify and work for the common goal of business development. A firm transcends the professionals comprising it; it has its own identity and develops its own brand. The firm must have the fundamental tools in order to prosper and for all members of the company to understand the business and identify with its philosophy, vision, mission, and culture. That makes it easier to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan.

Institutionalization is key for law firms seeking to transcend their current leaders and leave a legacy for new generations. Institutionalization is the only way to pass the baton to the new generations, and standardize without depersonalizing the service.


From the article at IE Insights  – Fernando Peláez-Pier, director of our Legal Management Programas: Lawyers Management Program and the Management de Firmas en Latinoamerica.

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