Changing Trends in the Legal Profession
by kaeleigh17 on November 2, 2016 - 8:53pm
As time goes on, there are changing trends that are affecting the legal profession. There are some trends that are exclusive to the United States and its extensive law system and there are trends that are seen around the world as well. TheBalance, a financial website, writes about the trends that are “reshaping the legal industry” domestically. Chamber Student, a law research group based in England report on the changing trends in the United Kingdom as well as the European Union. Some major trends that these articles discuss in the legal profession include outsourcing, changes in the economics, and changes in technology.
Many other industries and professions weigh the benefits and drawbacks from outsourcing their work to foreign countries. However, the legal profession is one that you would initially think could not be outsourced. Legal Process Outsourcing, as TheBalance calls it, features the work of lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries and litigation support personnel being handled by places like India as opposed to workers here in the United States. Firms outsourcing some of the work save them money and makes the process quicker, but it hurts the job market for aspiring legal workers here in the United States. It also makes the work less personal, where, for some legal cases, the connection between the legal firm and the clients are important. On a global standpoint, it is providing work for those around the globe, especially in India where most Legal Process Outsourcing is done, according to TheBalance. For India, it is an opportunity to practice common law while gaining experience, and while they do not necessarily need a law degree to work, it may spur them to move to the United States, get certified, and work at firms locally, as seen in the medical field.
Economic changes bring new trends to the legal profession on a global scale as well. Chamber Student discusses the effect the Brexit had on the legal industry in the United Kingdom and Europe. Because of exiting the European Union, laws have changed for the United Kingdom which causes current and aspiring legal workers to adjust to the changing laws. Withdrawing from the European Union’s economy also has had an effect. Chamber Student says that some firms not adjusting to the times or not recovering from economic downturns have caused firms to combine, resulting in lower number of firms, but larger sizes of the ones that remain. The same can be said for the United States where a total of 91 firms combined in 2015, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.
Similar to other industries, technology is having an effect on the legal industry. Electronic discovery, which is the research of a person’s electronic history, such as text messages, call logs, etc. has become faster, easier, and more effective in court cases. Electronic filing has cut costs as well as allow for more information to be stored. Finally, “virtual law offices” have become more popular on the internet, where people can get legal advice from lawyers on the internet as opposed to walking in a firm and talking to those in the legal profession.
As the new trends in the legal profession take effect, it is vital for those currently in and aspiring to be in the legal profession to adjust to the changing technological and economical times. It is important to take into consideration, whether working locally or globally, the implications of the decrease in job opportunities due to outsourcing and the need to adequately use new, more convenient technological advancements.