A new career landscape

 

I recently had the pleasure in making a presentation at Taylor Wessing on ‘Alternative Legal Careers’. The talk was held at the firm’s London office to an internal audience of approximately 70 lawyers and business services professionals and was a great way to look at how far law firms like Taylor Wessing have evolved – and will continue to evolve – their career offerings.

The presentation covered the changing landscape including how competition, client expectations, cost, as well as generational shifts are impacting law firms and the way they deliver legal services. This has led to a dramatic rise in just a few years of business services functions, which have grown in size, sophistication and profile to meet the demands of the modern legal business. With this has come burgeoning career and job opportunities.

Specific changes include the following:

  • Traditional functions in Business Development & Marketing, HR, IT and Finance have all grown in terms of both size (often going global) and sophistication.
  • Different skills sets are needed to run modern law firms. Specialist roles in all functions are now common.
  • There are many new roles too – in Process and Project Management, Innovation, Knowledge Management, Change, Pricing, and Risk and Compliance.
  • Lines between functions are becoming more blurred too, with many jobs crossing several functions or plugging into all levels of the firms.
  • Senior roles are genuine leadership opportunities: Directors and ‘Head of’ functions sit on the board and manage ever broader, more strategic remits.
  • The Legal Services Act has allowed non lawyers to become partners. We are now seeing this in action.
  • Business professionals are far more involved with clients. In progressive firms, pitch teams may now consist of BD, finance and IT representation.
  • Junior functions too have multiplied. Law offers real career development to those starting out in their careers.

Creative thinking

 

With these developments, however, has come a challenge: the demand for good candidates outstrips the supply. Law firms are looking more broadly and thinking creatively to both attract and retain talent. This includes sourcing more candidates from outside the sector, training and promoting potential business leadership talent from within, as well as using the need for business capabilities to retain talented lawyers who want an alternative to traditional legal partnership.

We get a lot of calls from lawyers, who are disillusioned with practising law, but want to stay within the legal sector. The advice we give them is to try and identify what it is they enjoy and are good at, talk to their employers about their desire to do something other than law and to see if they can gain some experience within the relevant business services function. 

We know lawyers who have moved into a variety of business services roles, including project management, strategy and business innovation, pricing, client relationship management, diversity and CSR, and digital and emerging technologies. Of course, such shifts won’t be right for everyone, but it’s a good demonstration of a new way of thinking in what is sometimes still seen as a very traditional sector.

Those entering or already within law can now enjoy an ever-greater choice as to where they would like to take their careers. Becoming a lawyer is just one option for those interested in a successful career in law.

With huge thanks to Taylor Wessing for inviting us to share our experiences on the opportunities that come with change.

DG

Click here if you would like to see a PDF of the presentation from the day, which includes more details of the changing landscape and the evolving roles on offer in law today.

 

 

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