The legal profession continues to go through waves of unprecedented upheaval. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen more disruption, more technology and more firms striving to go to greater heights.
The competition is hot, forcing lawyers, both in private practice and in-house, to adapt or risk being left behind.
The Lawyers Weekly Future Forum was back again this year, aiming to showcase the big issues likely to impact practitioners moving forward.
Held at Brisbane’s Sofitel on 17 October, Sydney’s Dockside Cockle Bay Wharf on 18 October and Melbourne’s Sheraton on 19 October, the event heard from a stellar line-up of expert speakers, who each provided insights into how the business of law is set to shift in the coming years — and what to do about it!
Speaker: Dr Bob Murray, Fortinberry Murray
A keynote speaker at this year’s event, Dr Bob Murray is well versed in the discussion about what tomorrow’s lawyer will look like.
Using his knowledge and experience in both the US and UK legal markets, Dr Murray shared with attendees how the future of practising law is set to play out in Australia.
He believes the future for lawyers will be quite different from the tech-driven world that is often imagined. During his session, the expert provided attendees with tips on how to reposition the way they lead as well as how to manage and market their firm and themselves in the digital age.
Panel: Is there a future for law firms?
Moderator: Dr Bob Murray, Fortinberry Murray
• Fiona Crawford, general manager of human resources, InfoTrack
• Tim Frost, partner, PwC
• Mark Gardiner, founder and legal director, Teddington Legal
• Beth Patterson, chief legal and technology services officer, Allens
There are a number of key challenges that are impacting the business of law as we know it.
This panel asked various questions, including but not limited to:
• Will all lawyers work for the big four accounting firms by 2030?
• Are law firms set to become digital enterprises?
• How do lawyers stay relevant in changing times?
• How can we foster a culture of engagement and retain top talent?
While our panelists had differing views, they all agreed that adapting to the changing legal market is no longer a choice but a must in order to survive and thrive.
TRACK SESSIONS – PATHWAYS TO INNOVATION
This year’s agenda gave attendees the opportunity to attend two separate track sessions. The first track session revolved around productivity and efficiency, while the second encouraged ideas about new ways of working.
TRACK SESSION 1: PRODUCTIVITY AND EFFICIENCY
Unlocking growth opportunities using intuitive technology
- Whit Lee, executive director of strategy and customer research, LexisNexis Asia-Pacific (Brisbane and Sydney events)
- Simon Wilkins, general manager, LexisNexis Australia (Melbourne event)
Offering key insights into the changing market and playing into the artificial intelligence (AI) technology debate, both Mr Lee and Mr Wilkins divulged the true growth opportunities available to practitioners in using intuitive technology within their legal practice.
The agile economy
- Frances Dunn, senior legal counsel, Netwealth Investments Ltd (Sydney and Melbourne events)
- Petra Stirling, head of legal capability and transformation, Gilbert + Tobin (Sydney event)
This session focused specifically on teams, both in-house and private practice, and shared how they started to use agile methodologies to improve workflow.
They discussed how agile working creates a culture of trust and furthers team bonding, makes lawyers more accountable and visible, and removes the hierarchical nature of law firms and organisations at large.
Invent and imagine: Embrace technology and realise your firm’s potential
Speaker: Brendan Smart, CEO, LEAP
The legal profession is embracing technology at a faster rate than ever, with clients demanding that their legal advisers keep up the pace.
In this session, CEO of our principal partner LEAP, Brendan Smart, discussed why client demand is as much of a driver of technological adoption within a firm as efficiency and profitability.
Mr Smart answered questions which revolved around: How the consumer-driven user experience is shaping the law tech scene; where the legal profession is in comparison with other industries in the adoption of digital disruption; what is around the corner for the future of law tech; and innovations in client service that every lawyer should be utilising.
The data-driven lawyer
Speaker: Cameron Payne, national sales and marketing senior director, FTI Consulting
Big data is another big buzzword in the legal profession. Mining this and using it effectively could be the difference in attracting and retaining key clientele.
In rounding off the first track session, speaker Cameron Payne discussed how legal practitioners can utilise data to increase productivity, and, in turn, profitability.
TRACK SESSION 2: NEW WAYS OF WORKING
Speaker: Mohan Koo, co-founder and CTO, Dtex Systems
Protecting data is a key priority in both private practice firms and corporate organisations.
Mr Koo’s session looked at the cyber attacks on law firms over the past 12 months, and how the culture around security and reputation must change in the legal profession in order to safeguard its future.
Panel: The gig economy and how it will impact the law
Moderator: David Bushby, managing director, Lexoo Australia
- Noga Edelstein, co-founder, UrbanYou (Sydney and Melbourne events)
- Michael Bromley, co-founder, Beyond Billables (Brisbane event)
- Maciek Motylinski, co-founder, Beyond Billables (Sydney event)
- Su-Ann Tan Burke, senior adviser, Proximity (Melbourne event)
- Tammy Mills, director, Orbit A Corrs Group Business (Sydney and Melbourne events)
The gig economy is becoming a big buzzword in the legal profession, with many firms set to be impacted by its growing prevalence in years to come.
This panel posed the prediction that 40 per cent of the professional workforce will be freelancers by the year 2025.
Our expert group of panelists in each state discussed how firms can adapt to this paradigm shift.
The power of partnerships
Speaker: Graeme Grovum, head of innovation, Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Incorporating innovation within law firms and in-house legal teams has become of paramount importance. Clients are no longer impressed with the traditional law firm offering and are demanding that lawyers offer an alternative edge.
The session, led by Corrs’ Graeme Grovum, played into this philosophy, sharing how working collaboratively with technological innovators can help unlock innovation in businesses.
Mr Grovum took to the stage to discuss how lawyers can go about accessing new opportunities, the benefits of collaboration, and used examples to describe what value partnerships have brought to Corrs in the pursuit of open innovation.
Talent retention and planning for the future
Speaker: Fiona Crawford, general manager of human resources, InfoTrack
Attracting and retaining talent have become a necessity in today’s hotly competitive legal market. So much so that firms have implemented new propositions to nab the talent coming out of university and lock down the best and brightest.
With junior lawyers given more choice by employers than ever before, it is crucial that firms prepare for what they’ll be choosing to offer tomorrow’s legal professionals.
InfoTrack’s Fiona Crawford provided pivotal insights into talent retention and how firms and legal teams can be planning for the years ahead.
Ms Crawford’s session answered questions high in the minds of many, including: How do we give a career to lawyers moving forward? How are we going to train the partners of the future? How will junior lawyers develop skills and who will pay for that?
The ethics of technology in law
Speaker: Fabian Horton, lecturer, College of Law
While it’s clear that technology has become a key driver in greater efficiency and productivity gains, it has not been without a cost.
In his session, Mr Horton discussed how ethics and technology are closely linked and how they can identify solutions to the new ethical problems technology can create.
Closing keynote: Winning the digital minds and analogue hearts of tomorrow’s client
Speaker: Anders Sorman-Nilsson, global futurist, speaker and author
As some organisations speed recklessly into the digital future; others are being left behind.
In his session, Andres Sorman-Nilsson taught attendees an appreciation for the parts of their businesses that simply cannot go digital.
He also gave attendees an understanding of how they can develop a digital story in a way that attracts business. He also revealed how and why customer service will never be replaced, but reborn in the “Digilogue”.