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Address the tech skills divide, or ‘see a flood of talent leave your doors’

The disparity in proficiency with legal technology is a pertinent yet somewhat covert issue facing the legal profession. 

user iconJess Feyder 13 October 2022 Big Law
Address the tech skills divide, or ‘see a flood of talent leave your doors’
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On a recent episode of LawTech Talks, LexisNexis head of UX research (Asia-Pacific region) Chantelle Maree offered insight into this disparity, discussing the repercussions firms may face if they do not address it.

There may be up to five generations working in a single workplace, from the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers all the way through to Gen Zers; this massive divide in generational context often correlates with a divide in technology uptake, usage and capability, explained Ms Maree.

This issue is the technology skills divide, something that most, if not all, workplaces are having to deal with today, she said.


The Silent Generation and Baby Boomers are generally much more comfortable with face-to-face interactions, whereas Generation Zers and Millennials are typically “digital natives” — they are often more comfortable communicating and interacting with people online, Ms Maree explained. 

These broad generalisations are typically accurate, she noted; however, there are exceptions where older generations have made a conscious effort to get up to speed with technology.

The generalisation that every Millennial knows how to leverage technology also may not be true, she said, and largely relates to socioeconomic circumstances and access to technology. 

It is not only the capability someone has in using technology, she clarified; it’s also about preference in the workplace around communication. 

Some people have a strong preference for face-to-face meetings; they want to collaborate in a live environment because that is how they’re comfortable and effective. This can be opposed to how many Millennials feel, who may be more comfortable collaborating on a technology platform. 

In a workplace, this becomes massively important, she said, because you need to be able to cater to these different needs.

Technology is ever-changing, ever-adapting, and becoming increasingly integrated in workplaces, and while certain aspects of the profession will remain human-centred because the human element is integral to the work, Ms Maree outlined, it is also true that the legal industry will continue leveraging technology to work smarter and faster.

The issue became particularly pronounced throughout the pandemic as organisations geared up quickly to leverage and harness technology in their workforces, she said. 

It is very important to address the issue within firms, that some people are not able to adopt the technology as quickly as others due to their level of digital literacy, she argued.

“There is potential for the gap in communication and ability to grow broader and bigger. And as the gap broadens, people feel more insecure. 

“Their insecurity leads them to be less proactive in getting themselves up to speed, so the cycle becomes a perpetuating problem in an organisation — this can be very difficult to rectify if it’s not addressed early on,” she said. 

“There is concern for organisations when individuals within the workforce are feeling marginalised, excluded from conversation to the extent to which they are not using technology.

“Being able to close the divide is critically important where you are looking for a workforce that is cohesive, that is collaborative and can work together in a way that is good for the organisation’s growth.”

In responding to a question about the importance of employers investing in bridging the technological skills divide, Ms Maree answered: “It becomes critically important on a number of levels. Number one, you’re going to lose good people if you don’t invest.

“If there’s another organisation doing it better, you are going to see your flood of talent leaving your doors.

“The second consideration is that spending money on infrastructure, on technology that is not being fully adopted and fully utilised in your organisation is counterproductive.

“If you are not bringing your employees along for the ride, then you’re not getting the best out of the technology or out of your employees.”

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