LYLG x The Lawyer Blog Competition
We recently held a blog competition with The Lawyer which invited entries to answer the following question:
‘What are the most important skills for lawyers of the future?’
The winning blog by Nouf Abdulrahman will be published on The Lawyer’s website.
We are also pleased to share our second and third place blogs with you.
Second Place – Charlene Hamilton
What are the most important skills for lawyers of the future?
Strong academics, attention to detail, exceptional communication – check. These are undoubtedly some of the traditional components in the making of a good lawyer.
Fast forward to 2020 however, and the skills we usually associate with lawyers are seemingly subject to change. In a fiercely competitive and endlessly evolving legal sector, budding lawyers now need to possess not only the classic competencies, but also a much more diverse set of skills to make sure they are always bringing their legal A game.
But what ‘diverse skills’ does a future lawyer need exactly to ensure they are the first pick on an employer’s team? Introducing the three A’s – a summary of the most important skills for lawyers of the future.
If the events of 2020 have taught us anything so far, it’s that future lawyers will need to be continual chameleons throughout their careers.
Having the ability to adapt quickly and positively to change is a crucial skill for future lawyers that will benefit both them and their employers.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has been the ultimate example of lawyer’s adaptability skills being put to the test. Individuals have been subject to new ways of working and technology they previously may not have been familiar with. Employers have needed lawyers to be open to the changes and willing to embrace them. Future lawyers should see the response of the legal sector to COVID-19 as a true lesson in adaptability.
The ability to demonstrate acumen – the business kind – is fast becoming more and more desirable among future lawyers. That’s not to say that employers expect lawyers to become the next Lord Alan Sugar overnight but having an entrepreneurial flare and a good understanding of the inner workings of business will not go a miss.
The legal sector has experienced significant developments and periods of uncertainty in recent years, ranging from the rise of alternative providers of legal services to the saga of Brexit. It is inevitable that role of future lawyers will develop too and go beyond just providing legal advice.
Employers will want to be able to call upon future lawyers to contribute creative, fresh ideas to tackle business problems and revitalise strategies.
If future lawyers are able to show that they can combine entrepreneurial skills and a business mindset with their legal thinking there is no doubt that employers will be saying ‘You’re hired’ in no time.
- The Art of Collaboration
Not quite an ‘A’, but we needed to get this one in there. Lawyers are pitted against each other from the outset of their careers so they can be forgiven for thinking collaboration is an abstract concept. For the future lawyer however, collaboration will need to become second nature.
In a study by Oxford Economics in 2012, collaboration was deemed to be a skill that would be in high demand over the next five to ten years. When considering the increased demand from clients to receive value for money, the need for lawyers to be able to work alongside others collaboratively on projects in multidisciplinary law firms is clear.
The need to have collaborate skills also extends well beyond the realm of the law firm. Being able to also effectively build and create networks with clients and third parties is paramount in the legal industry. No man, or woman, is an island and a lawyer’s ability to establish professional relationships will decide whether they sink or swim in this game.
The three A’s are by no means the only skills future lawyers will need. If you are however well on the way to developing these skills, you can guarantee you will always be bringing your legal A game.
Third Place – Kathleen Teo
What are the most important skills for lawyers of the future?
This was not the first-year university experience I envisioned when I entered law school in September 2019.
Upon starting university, I had a clear plan to achieve my goal of becoming a lawyer. I needed to do well in my first-year exams to put me in good stead for vacation scheme applications in my second-year. I was then going to enter final year with a training contract and study as hard as I could to get that 1:1.
But Corona decided to lay this plan to rest. Not Corona Beer, but COVID-19, though Corona Beer could do the same if I over-indulged in it.
The way COVID-19 has affected our lives has proved that the future is anything but certain.
Rather than to plan precisely future for the future, I now believe that aspiring lawyers should focus on developing the following skillset:
– Being commercially-minded
All future lawyers must be adaptable, as clients’ needs are always subject to changes. For instance, the outbreak has caused many businesses to go insolvent. Consequently, law firms have to make preparations to ensure that its lawyers are best positioned to serve its
clients. For example, many global law firms are now training its lawyers in quieter departments to be redeployed into restructuring and insolvency work. Thus, future lawyers should be open-minded and willing to transition into other work to suit business needs. Since
the bedrock of a successful lawyer-client relationship involves understanding clients’ evolving needs in a fast-changing world, future lawyers must be adaptable to change.
Additionally, future lawyers should be adaptable to embrace new ways of working. During this pandemic, law firms have been forced to shift to remote working. Accordingly, lawyers have had to adapt to working from home whilst striving to maintain their work productivity.
When clients seek legal advice, clients are ultimately seeking commercially viable solutions for their business. Thus, it is key for future lawyers to understand that in addition to having strong technical legal knowledge, it is imperative for them to be commercial-minded.
How then can future lawyers build their commercial awareness? There are numerous opportunities for future lawyers to leverage on.
For example, through attending transactional case study presentations, future lawyers can develop an appreciation for the commercial drivers behind deal-making. In the current climate where the lines between commercial and legal issues are increasingly blurred,
lawyers must be able to wear multiple hats and provide advice beyond a purely legal spectrum to be effective advisers.
Future lawyers who have a good understanding of their clients’ commercial motivations will not only be able to advise clients on more nuanced points that may otherwise be overlooked, but also add value to their client relationships and stand out in the competitive legal market.
Let’s face it; the idea of networking has terrified us at some point, especially for those that are new to it (me!)
Jokes aside, future lawyers must continue to hone our networking skills once we enter the workplace. In particular, we must use them to establish a strong and supportive network between our colleagues and clients right from the very start, as these people may become
important contacts overtime.
The expansion of US firms in the UK has caused competition for clients in the legal market to increase ten-fold. We must, therefore, exercise our networking skills to secure a strong client base for us to count on as our career progresses.
In essence, we won’t know what the future will be like. However, these skills will stand the test of time by helping us cope with unprecedented changes and to make us better lawyers in the long-run.
Thank you to all of you who entered, and well done to our winners!
Legal Cheek Article: Meet the Insta-influencers combining fitness with law
Our very own LYLG Ambassador and founder of LegallyRun, Sophie Warren, has been featured in Legal Cheek’s blog post: ‘Meet the Insta-influencers combining fitness with law’.
Sophie discusses her passions for the law, fitness, and for managing her highly-successful Instagram account. She demonstrates how focusing on her interests outside of work has enabled her to develop a well-rounded skillset.
“I’ve acquired communication, marketing and entrepreneurial thinking skills that can be discussed on application”
You can read the full blog post here.
Blog : Taking Charge of Your Career
Featured in Lifting the Law blog post ‘Taking Charge of Your Career’.
Jasmin speaks about the best ways to create opportunities for yourself, such as networking, researching effectively and using social media in a productive way.
‘Social media connected me to London Young Lawyers, Legal Check and various legal podcasts that have invited me to events, enhanced my commercial awareness and shared multiple opportunities that are available to me.’
You can read the full blog post here.
Legal Cheek Podcast: Junior City lawyers chat about big firm life
Our Chair Olly Haddock and employment lawyer Kayleigh Leonie have a chat with Eloise Skinner on the Legal Cheek Podcast ‘Junior City lawyers chat about big firm life‘.
The podcast covers a variety of topics such as City law life, reasons for pursuing a career in law and practical tips for the modern lawyer.
Mental health wellbeing and mindfulness
The trio also discuss the importance of mental health and wellbeing for junior lawyers at work. In 2017 and 2019 Kayleigh Leonie created two surveys that were sent out by the Law Society to junior lawyers. These surveys aimed to gather information on the impact of stress on individuals within the legal profession. The 2019 survey revealed that:
“One in 15 junior lawyers said that they experienced suicidal thoughts as a direct result of experiencing stress at work”.
Olly Haddock provides helpful and practical steps to reduce such stress and to take control of wellbeing at work. Olly describes mindfulness as having an “element of self-awareness” which requires people to “really think and reflect on what it is that makes you feel good”. Simple steps such as reducing your caffeine intake can be really effective to help improve your wellbeing.
Listen below to hear the full podcast which includes more helpful tips as well as insights into a career in the law (and to find out Olly’s hidden talent!).
Olly Haddock, Kayleigh Leonie and Legal Cheek Podcast host, Eloise Skinner, pictured above.
You can access the full Legal Cheek article accompanying the podcast here.
Legally Speaking Podcast: Legally Connected
Check out our Chair Nicola Rubbert and Vice-Chair Olly Haddock being interviewed on podcast Legally Speaking, their episode is called Legally Connected and they talk about their love for legal networking and the London Young Lawyers Group.
Nicola Rubbert and Olly Haddock with Legally Speaking host, Rob Hanna, pictured above.