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The future of law firms in a tech-driven business environment

26 April 2017

There is no doubt among those in the legal industry that the traditional law firm model will eventually become a thing of the past. Digital and technological ‘disruption’ and innovation are responsible for unprecedented change across the professional services sector.

Law firms globally are trying to stay on top of change by investing in digital marketing, upgrading systems, incorporating legal apps, expanding legal outsourcing networks and getting up to speed with regulatory change. Prevailing in this environment, however, will not be easy according to Bob Murray, co-author of Leading the Future: The Human Science of Law Firm Strategy and Leadership.

“Many firms are trying to beat the disruption by racing to outdo each other in their technological proficiency and their expansion into non-traditional legal areas. This is a race to the bottom and I fear few will survive it” Murray says.

Legal disruptors and innovators

Prospective clients are gradually becoming aware of the range of benefits resulting from the deep changes affecting the legal services industry. New and emerging ‘legal disruptors’ are not only offering cheaper, faster and more accessible services, but also a much more personable approach to client relations.

Innovative law firms are demystifying the image of the stiff, grave and self-serving lawyer by adopting more practical services models focusing on ease of access, responsiveness, down-to-earth communication styles and lower fees.

The emergence of the ‘virtual and paperless’ niche-based law firms is also seriously challenging the grip traditional law firms have had on the market for decades. Operating mostly remotely and with minimal overheads, virtual law firms can provide a top-quality, fixed-fee service to clients beyond the firm’s geographical location.

This is good news for those looking for affordable and more accessible legal services. It is also good news for ‘Gen Y’ lawyers; inspired by tech-based work environments and managed by innovative business leaders, they strive to achieve a better work-life balance and a greater sense of social purpose.

Standing out from the crowd

Competition to prevail in the legal services industry is not just an issue for law firms. With a current employment market oversupplied with law graduates, breaking into the legal industry has become an uphill battle for many. Standing out from the crowd should be a top priority for anyone wanting to break into the legal industry.

Legal specialisation is one way to be noticed and make the cut for a job interview. A Master of Laws (LLM) from Southern Cross University Online offers an excellent pathway to secure employment as a legal specialist in a law firm or as in-house counsel. The fact is, legal competition is encouraging savvy clients to demand the highest possible level of knowledge, experience and service for their money. Generalist law firms will gradually become less attractive to clients looking for the type of legal solutions that only a specialist lawyer can provide.

As law firms ‘niche-up’ and strive for a piece of the market, they will be looking for lawyers that can immediately add value to their services. A Masters of Laws from Southern Cross University, with a specialisation in business law, is a qualification that gives the legal professional the type of marketable quality that clients, legal firms and corporate business look for to increase their competitive advantage in today’s business environment.

Learn more about your online postgraduate study options with Southern Cross University by speaking with a representative from our Student Enrolment team on 1300 589 882.