Technological transformations have expanded in law firms, innovation survey shows

This survey resulted in a report titled “Educating the Lawyers of the Present and the Future – Research and Practice Skills”, which set out an unprecedented map of skills and competencies that reflects the context of ongoing transformations in the legal profession.
法学
11 九月 2023
Technological transformations have expanded in law firms, innovation survey shows

A successful career at Brazil’s leading law firms requires technical and theoretical mastery of the law and staying up to date with the latest developments. However, the rapid process of digitalization in society, which has now reached legal practice itself, the implementation of Brazil’s General Data Protection Law and incentives provided by the 2015 Code of Civil Procedure to use extrajudicial methods of resolving disputes have increased the need to develop new skills, such as process management, technological knowledge, and social and emotional skills.

This is one of the findings presented by the Center for Education and Research in Innovation (CEPI) at the FGV Sao Paulo Law School, which recently surveyed 400 law firms of all sizes operating in different parts of Brazil to understand the latest impacts of technology on the legal market.

This survey resulted in a report titled “Educating the Lawyers of the Present and the Future – Research and Practice Skills,” which set out an unprecedented map of skills and competencies that reflects the context of ongoing transformations in the legal profession.

According to Ana Paula Camelo, a researcher at CEPI and the survey’s coordinator, “The map resulting from this research shows how various combinations of skills and competencies are necessary for the transformation of law firms in Brazil. However, these opportunities come up against training gaps and incompatibility with hiring practices.

Among other things, the respondents were asked to list, in order of priority, the most important skills out of the following: legal training, management knowledge, social and emotional skills, and technological skills.

Legal training was considered the most important skill by the most participants (39%), followed by management skills (26%), social and emotional skills (20%) and technological skills (15%). Added together, these non-legal skills account for 61% of high-priority skills for law firms.

Breaking down the skills that respondents consider to make a positive difference, only three legal skills appear in the top 10.

Creation of new areas

The survey also looked at the main areas of activity or functions created in law firms in the last five years. The top five were data protection (39%), marketing (35%), negotiation, mediation and conciliation (26%), knowledge management (26%), and innovation management (23%). (This question allowed for multiple answers.)

The survey found that at more than 90% of large law firms, these areas were created in the last five years. Data protection was the area most commonly created, presumably due to the implementation of the Brazilian General Data Protection Law (Law 13,709 of 2018), which imposed new requirements for protecting personal data.

Looking at the other responses to this question, 48% of law firms said they have not created any new areas in the last five years, while 33% said they created new areas due to demand from clients, while 17% said they did so at the initiative of their professionals. Furthermore, 30% of law firms said they created new areas in order to innovate in providing legal services, and 29% said they did so to implement or improve their technical infrastructure.

Creation of new areas

The survey also looked at the main areas of activity or functions created in law firms in the last five years. The top five were data protection (39%), marketing (35%), negotiation, mediation and conciliation (26%), knowledge management (26%), and innovation management (23%). (This question allowed for multiple answers.)

Creation of new areas in last five years

The survey found that at more than 90% of large law firms, these areas were created in the last five years. Data protection was the area most commonly created, presumably due to the implementation of the Brazilian General Data Protection Law (Law 13,709 of 2018), which imposed new requirements for protecting personal data.

Looking at the other responses to this question, 48% of law firms said they have not created any new areas in the last five years, while 33% said they created new areas due to demand from clients, while 17% said they did so at the initiative of their professionals. Furthermore, 30% of law firms said they created new areas in order to innovate in providing legal services, and 29% said they did so to implement or improve their technical infrastructure.

Hiring

The survey also looked at law firms’ stance with regard to hiring professionals.

In relation to the next five years, the vast majority completely or partly agreed that “technology will be a way for law firms to stand out” (93%) and that “the legal profession will be greatly impacted by technology and it will need to reinvent some practices” (92%). On the other hand, 38% of respondents agreed that “technology will have no impact on lawyers’ practice.”

Despite this prognosis, 25% of respondents said they had no strategy for dealing with gaps in their professionals’ training, 31% of firms fund courses only for specific lawyers, and 36% resort to in-house programs. In all, 41% of law firms said they fund courses for all interested lawyers.

When asked about the strategy adopted for hiring lawyers, 96% said they evaluate candidates’ resumes and education, and 95% use individual interviews to assess their behavior and knowledge. However, 90% of respondents also said they use referrals as a means of hiring.

“The impact of technology on the legal market goes beyond discussion of technology tools and it has increasingly driven the creation of new legal areas, functions and services, along with the creation of opportunities for new and different profiles of professionals,” sums up Ana Paula Camelo.

According to Adrián Fognini, managing director for Latin America at Thomson Reuters, a global content and technology company, which supported CEPI’s survey, “The legal segment is going through significant transformations that pose new challenges but also unprecedented opportunities for creating value. The aspects highlighted in the survey show that professionals are changing in the face of these new dynamics, demands and technologies, seeking to leverage their strategic role with their clients and society. Technological and management skills, interpersonal skills and up-to-date knowledge are crucial aspects for professionals who want to be reference points, both for their clients and for the legal sector as a whole.”

To see a presentation about the survey’s results, click here.

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