Owners of law firms, employees in the legal industry, and industry commentators all agree that following trends is a good thing. It will help them make informed decisions about the future of the practice. The patterns have not changed much in the last decade, but they have become more pronounced. The causative factors have a growing impact on the trends that affected the industry in the past. For example, social media was still disruptive five years ago. However, it is bringing new opportunities and challenges like never before. Below are some of the top trends that will shape the legal industry in 2020.
Before we do that, let’s think of why people hire lawyers. They hire a lawyer when they are arrested, sued, had an accident, or for other similar reasons. If you’re involved in a car accident, you can find help here, because lawyers who specialize in car accidents would definitely know how best to represent you in court. They will work hard to make sure that the at-fault driver takes responsibility for their reckless actions.
Now that you know why you would need to hire a lawyer, we can now discuss the latest trends that are influencing the legal industry.
1. Freelancing and Virtual Legal Services
It is much cheaper nowadays to host a teleconference call to a client in any part of the country, even globally. Firms that depended on offering local solutions to local firms now are exposed to competition, as new entrants can use technology to their advantage. They can talk to their clients using the available channels.
These conditions are perfect for the thriving new brand of virtual legal practitioners. They don’t need a fixed office to do their work, giving them an advantage over fixed law firms that have to pay fixed office leases. In the wake of new competition, established law firms are also getting into the bandwagon and creating virtual platforms.
This trend will continue to be a major competitive advantage as millennials get into management positions of major firms. This brings us to the next trend.
2. Retiring Generation
One of the most iconic generations is retiring—the baby boomers. They started retiring in 2011. Why is it a trend in 2020? Every year, more and more retire at a rumored rate of 10,000 a day. Their retirement creates vacuums in management and ownership positions in most companies. Their departure also coincides with their need to transfer their properties to their dependants.
All these tasks will require legal services that the legal industry has been anticipating over the years. The other challenge is that the wealthiest generation will also not have an active income, which will put pressure on the consumption and production levels. A shift in the market will also shape the legal practice significantly.
3. The Emergence of the Millennial Generation
Firms now have to get used to a new generation that has different needs. The generation prioritizes job satisfaction that security and remuneration. More and more millennials are choosing contractual and freelancing gigs at the expense of permanent and pensionable jobs.
More of them are also choosing non-traditional working arrangements, including co-working spaces and work tourism. Law firms have to find a way of tapping into this group. Most of them are changing their hiring model and processes to reflect the new reality. It also creates a generational dilemma. At least three generations are now coinciding with each other at the workplace.
4. Social Media
It started as a way for people to communicate informally, form social cliques, and generally chat. Today, it is one of the most powerful tools. It can make or break careers, it is defying marketing as we knew it, and it remains dynamic. How is it a trend? Its dynamism makes it unpredictable.
Lawyers and legal firms are leveraging their growing reputation to market and influence people. Others are using the platforms as free media where they can experiment, recruit participants, and drive debates. In the process, legal activism is moving away from the confines of the chambers.
5. Legal Processing Outsourcing
Some countries will continue to face shortages of qualified personnel. The most likely way out for most firms is to outsource. Outsourcing of legal processes is now a reality. In the US, it is an accepted fact. Outsourcing overseas is also gaining traction.
Lawyers also have to contend with the emerging self-service culture. An entrepreneur can now use self-help documents available online to prepare all legal documents required at registration and set up of his or her business.
The legal profession and industry at large are growing, forcing legal firms to adapt their management style and approaches. Its expansion is relying on technology as the key driver. Demographic dynamics are also playing a significant role. The exit of baby boomers ushers in new experiences and expectations from millennials who are tech-savvy.