Why it’s such an exciting time to be a young lawyer

07 June 2020 By Jerome Doraisamy
Sam Burrett

COVID-19 has, justifiably, given rise to fears about job security and vocational direction. But, according to one practitioner, pandemic-inspired opportunities are there for the taking.

Speaking recently on The Lawyers Weekly Show, Plexus associate commercial director Sam Burrett argued that, despite the economic downturn and subsequent professional turbulence, the age of coronavirus is actually a “really exciting time to be a lawyer, especially a young lawyer”.

“I know there’s a lot of uncertainty from the young lawyers Ive spoken to who have recently graduated from law, and theyre looking down the barrel of a much less clear career path than in the past. But I think out of uncertainty generally comes really exciting things as well,” he submitted.

“Trends are actually being accelerated, and those trends are towards legal transformation with lawyers adopting more technology than ever before, more working from home and engaging with employees on a more human level, and we’re seeing the expansion of NewLaw and the mid-tier as lawyers move away from the dream of equity partner and look for other alternative career paths. 

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We’re also seeing the rise of ‘legalpreneurs’; that is, lawyers who are interested in starting their own business and legal technology or a different way of running a law firm. All of those trends are accelerated by the current climate.”

As a result of these trends, and broader marketplace shifts, not only are there new opportunities arising for the emerging generation of leaders in law, Mr Burrett mused, but those new roles will be the ones that can and may shape the direction of the legal profession moving forward.

“There [are] new roles for people who might have previously been called non-lawyers. There’ll be more of an emphasis on marketing and business development as law firms attempt to pick up new work in the recovery from the economic fallout of COVID-19. And so, there [are] definitely roles that non-lawyers will traditionally take up that young lawyers will look towards and that includes legal project management as well and other disciplines,” he said.

“But I think the really interesting development will be for those who want to practice law in a new way: the gig economy strikes fear in the heart of some lawyers who are resistant to change and who are worried about what’s happened with Uber, and I think those fears are definitely justified and we should be cautious and make sure that lawyers who pursue freelance work are supported, but I also think we should have a healthy dose of optimism and look forward to the new ways of practicing law that enable young lawyers and entrepreneurs and people with diverse interests to do meaningful, interesting legal work, but also pursue hobbies or side hustles or other interests.”

Moreover, there’s no reason why more senior lawyers can’t help facilitate the mainstreaming of new-age legal roles, or even assume such roles themselves, Mr Burrett insisted.

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“In fact, I think it’s probably professionals at the more senior end who can be the most useful when they go on secondment or take a more flexible approach to law,” he posited.

“That experience that you build up, five to 10 years in the law, allows you to jump in or parachute in to a new project or a new environment, and really quickly add value to an organisation. At the same time, you’re also more confident in your [skill set], which means that you are able to give enough energy to your work and give enough energy to your hobbies or your side hustle which keeps you happy and balanced in life.”

To listen to the full conversation with Sam Burrett, click below:

Why it’s such an exciting time to be a young lawyer
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