The workplace of 2025 will look very different to what we see today. As legal teams and corporates start to navigate the changes of the workplace, we are considering the lawyer’s role of 2025, and how the industry might be impacted overall.
As addressed previously by LexisNexis, advances in legal tech, automation and AI are likely to alter the work of a lawyer substantially—but not necessarily in a negative way.
In this article, we look at various other key components affecting the future of work.
Driven by the expectations and new ideals of up-and-coming generations, the concepts of flexible working, mobility and the ability to work anywhere, are here to stay.
This year, both The Guardian, and Legal Week, reported increased remote and home working in the industry. Legal Week stated that almost three quarters of lawyers at large UK firms work from home at least once a month:
A Legal Week survey of hundreds of U.K. lawyers found 72% of those at firms with more than 1,000 fee-earners spend some time working from home, with nearly half of those doing so three days a month or more.
Global mobility will grow in importance in the workplace of 2025, particularly for the larger firms with more than 100,000 employees.
Mobility will likely change the working practices of both companies and law firms, with the concept of cross-border commuters – people living and working in different countries – becoming more prominent.
Employees will also be more likely to become mobile between different companies. Organisations will increasingly sharing talent on a temporary basis and structuring their resourcing on shorter project-based work, rather than long-term projects and full-time employees.
It may become ‘normal’ for people to have more than one employer in the future workplace of 2025.
Either way, this is a hugely challenging shift for companies to navigate, and unequivocally disruptive for traditional business models in place.
How can small, and large businesses, and law firms keep up to date with legislation, maintain security, and collaboration? How do you navigate all of this in a fully digital workplace and increasingly mobile or remote employees?
Read our practice notes for tips, guidance and key legislation:
Internationally mobile employees
PwC has reported that nearly half of professionals expect 20% of their workforce to be contractors or temporary workers within a few years.
In 2019, we have seen the concept of the ‘flexi-lawyer’ take hold considerably, which underlines this trend.
In April, Linklaters were the first firm to implement a flexi-lawyering platform, Re:Link, which allows the firm to employ lawyers on an interim basis to work on specific projects.
Pinsent Masons has also launched its flexible legal services offering Vario in Germany—which offers freelance legal services and temporary legal resources for corporates and law firms. Could this perhaps be a trend that will impact in-house teams and legal ops?
Our current geopolitical climate and economic insecurity drives a huge amount of uncertainty across professions. 74% of CEOs[i] stated that geopolitical uncertainty is a major concern for them, with 50% being concerned about climate change.
Culturally, the legal profession has often come under fire for the importance of pastoral care of its workers.
Research reported by the FT found working in the legal profession to be “anxiety-inducing”, recommending that “wellbeing, mental health and anxiety should be seen as a core business issue for law firms”.
As we look to 2025, flexible working, stress management and culture are inevitable items for the agenda, and crucial in shaping corporate responsibility and employee care.
Businesses are becoming more and more impacted by the needs and expectations of millennials, Gen-Y and “Gen-Zers” – who are as funky as they sound. Their different and changing needs from their employers are shifting workplace cultures of today and will continue to do so in 2025.
Survey question: Assuming that companies will work more/exclusively within business networks in 2025, company culture will become
[Source: PwC, The way we work – in 2025 and beyond, 2017]
Factors such as increased focus on work life balance, mental health, agile working and the ability to work remotely, will all be key to a company’s future success.
Therefore, the future landscape could be one where businesses will need to compete more on company culture and environments that blend work and life seamlessly.
Hierarchical structures could also enter the spotlight, as companies and law firms look to change working practices from fewer employment-based projects, to more temporary, project-based ones. This would inevitably affect the traditional power-balanced organisations, and certainly the current workflows of legal ops, partners, and junior lawyers.
Millennials and Gen-Y or “Gen-Zers” are drawn to organisations that offer stimulating atmospheres and expect to work in communities of employees of mutual interest, not structured hierarchies. Inadvertently, these new ideals place new demands on employers.
For future and succession planning, therefore, the question is perhaps how companies and legal teams can manage workflows, resourcing, collaboration and keeping everyone up to date with the latest information. And how to do this in an environment where many of the employees are temporary or part-time.
Law firms, who base much of their business on client/employee relationships—may also want to think about how these structures will be impacted by a changing workforce.
See: Flying Solo Events
Legal Operations and Knowledge Manager roles continue to grow in prevalence, scope and stature as they take on increased importance across businesses of all sizes.
This is evidenced both by the growth in volume of those with a specific responsibility for legal operations and knowledge management, together with most of these roles reporting directly to the GC and with titles of increasing seniority.
On 12th December 2019 we had our first idea sharing workshop for Legal Ops professionals. Key questions to frame the discussed were:
- How do these roles compare across industries?
- How do you really drive value to your business in these roles?
- What support can you gain from like-minded colleagues?
In 2020 we will be running more, free to attend, best-practice sessions. Click here for more information on the event, and register your interest in attending, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Flying Solo is a forum created exclusively to support sole in-house lawyers and those in small teams. It is run by a committee of in-house lawyers and it’s facilitated and sponsored by LexisNexis and Radius Law. Join us at our next event on 25th March 2020.
You may also want to check out: Aspire events, specifically for junior lawyers.
Our practice notes provide practical tips, guidance and key legislation. You may find the following useful:
Managing personal responses to change
Business Development and Marketing plan workflow
Measuring the in-house legal team
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[i] PwC, The way we work – in 2025 and beyond, 2017
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Amy is an established writer and researcher, having contributed to publications, such as The Law Society, LPM, City A.M. and Financial IT. Her role at LexisNexis UK involved writing content and research reports, including "The Bellwether Report 2020, Covid-19: The next chapter" and "Are medium-sized firms the change-makers in legal?"
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