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Discipline, honor, tradition, and excellence—these could previously be described as the foundation of the legal profession. After decades of consistency, however, the field of law is experiencing an extensive transformation with far-reaching effects. For better or worse, much of this has been attributed to the millennial generation: those individuals born between the early 1980s and 2000.
In the TIME article titled: “The Me Me Me Generation,” Millennials are described in the following way:
“They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional. Those aren’t just unfounded negative stereotypes about 80 million Americans born roughly between 1980 and 2000. They’re backed up by a decade of sociological research.”
However, other research has suggested that this generation is responding to an evolving world defined in part by rapid technological changes. Millennials have become the largest generation wielding a projected spending power of $1.4 trillion by 2020. Attorneys and law firms that wish to succeed in the future should take note of these current trends, which are anticipated to continue.
How Have Millennials Changed the Legal Landscape?
There are many ways that this demographic has influenced changes in how most business is done. This includes business conducted within the legal profession. These changes are evident in response to millennial members of the legal profession, as well as clients of that age group.
First, perhaps above everything, Millennials appreciate the flexibility. They prefer using technology that allows them to work remotely and set their own hours. Billable hours, routine, and face-to-face interactions are less of a priority.
Second, members of this generation require frequent feedback. Whether as a client or a colleague, they prefer platforms where they can monitor progress. Associates also want a clear view of how they are performing in real time.
Third, Millennials value information. They are more likely to want to know the “big picture” rather than being satisfied to just follow protocol. They want to know “why” certain practices are in place. Additionally, they are likely to research employers, colleagues, and clients, etc. A quick google search helps them to determine which firm to hire or work for.
In What Ways Did the Information Age Change the Way Data is Managed?
Rather than file cabinets full of hard-copy documents, and legal teams scrambling to find them, today’s law offices depend more heavily on digital platforms. With the enormous volume of data in a variety of formats, it has become increasingly more important for law offices to take advantage of cutting-edge technology.
Contemporary online data management rooms handle PDFs of paper documents, electronic documents, emails, social-media postings, and text messages. Innovative technologies allow small firms to compete with larger companies like never before. A few of the most popular include the following:
- Artificial intelligence
- Cloud computing
- Predictive coding
This results in lower overhead and less expensive services for clients. What lawyers give up in billable hours, they make up in quantity.
Why Are Online Communities Being Created?
Attorneys have always depended on communities to mentor each other, share insights, make cross-referrals, and find clients. Today, lawyers who wish to succeed in the legal profession are building and/or joining communities online.
Communities like LawyerSmack—previously LawyerSlack—are increasingly becoming the go-to locations for brainstorming, mentoring, sharing files, and engaging in discussions with colleagues. Intended for use by individuals and teams, they can be used across a variety of platforms and devices.
LawyerSmack, in particular, can also be integrated with the following apps and services:
- Uber, etc.
Although social media venues like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter still have a place in legal marketing, communities like LawyerSmack provide much more.
How Is Virtual Reality Being Used in the Legal Sector?
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are among the most highly anticipated and intriguing technological advances. These will potentially find a place in the courtroom, as well. In recent years, evidentiary rules have begun to accommodate technology in a variety of ways. Examples include the introduction of DNA evidence and videotaped depositions being entered as evidence.
Additional ways VR and AR could be used in the legal sector are with the presentation of evidence. It would be possible for crime scenes to be virtually recreated and presented to jurors. Another method would be to use a drone with a small camera to show the crime scene and surrounding areas in real-time.
In the not-too-distant future, it is not unrealistic to envision trials occurring with the assistance of virtual reality technology. Jurors could remotely participate in a trial, and even deliberate with other members of the jury over an online platform.
The legal profession has a history of being rather conservative. Recent trends, however, indicate that is no longer practical. Online formats continue to alter how communities are built and data is managed and shared. VR and AR will become more prevalent in the courtroom. In fact, as technology becomes an inevitable tool in the modern law firm, it is increasingly important for attorneys to embrace it or risk being left behind.