Ask an Entrepreneur (01)
This kicks off our first “Ask an Entrepreneur” blog series in which we receive questions from our Legal Innovation Zone community members and an entrepreneur in our space answers the question. Our first question comes from Ryerson student Yuli Jadov. He asks: “Should law students be scared that there will be less jobs waiting for them after graduation specifically because of legal tech? Does legal tech affect prospects for more experienced lawyers?”
Yuli, “in olden times” (pre-2009 financial crisis) a lawyer could join a firm and float from practice group to practice group, and settle where that lawyer’s interest would lie. That luxury is still available to top summer students at law firms who are attempting to lock down long-term loyalty. Anecdotally, this luxury has migrated to some of the more innovative tech company organizations, such as Facebook. Receiving a job offer is a real accomplishment, but once recruited, the hiring managers will need to make presentations to the new crop of recruited candidates in order to entice them to join a specific team. The tables turn!
So – what will happen as automation and technology continue to grow? As we are seeing, AmazonGo eliminates the need for cashiers and reduces the cost of running a grocery store, drugstore, hardware store, or even coffee shop. The same can be said for technology and legal careers. In speaking with my colleagues who are new lawyers, the sentiment is that as legal tech continues to expand, lawyers will need to evolve their practice. Legal tech has its advantages for a legal practice. It encourages efficiency. Rather than focusing on tedious due diligence, lawyers can focus more on reviewing and strategizing.
Two of my earliest jobs were at a retail clothing store and then at a restaurant. The usual job progression was a promotion from dealing with stock, to the handling of cash, after which the next level up was supervisor/manager. It’s an uphill battle to become an expert in professional services, and may not be as easy or as straight of a career climb in the lawyer world.
For young lawyers, in the face of the present-day competitive landscape, my advice relating to this point has always been to stick with your passion. My thought is that as learning and research opportunities may soon be harder to come by, as those activities are replaced by machine-learning algorithms, students and new graduates should try to quickly find a specialization. The genuine passion of a junior researcher to analyze specific subject matter will shine through.
My junior lawyer colleagues remind me that, for the present, there is a long way to go before AI, machine learning and other systems technology will replace the warmth and comfort of human interaction. And although I’m convinced that is true, I do believe that technology efficiency will make self-learning and DIY legal more accessible and more adopted than ever. The opportunity for providing legal services will not be reduced but actually broadened because technology will open up access to customers who want to adopt the blended approach of technology tools and expert advice. There are many potential customers, roughly 50-90 per cent of customers who aren’t being serviced (depending on practice area) and that’s a heck of an untapped market if you can unlock it using technology.
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