The heads of 4 leading New South Wales law schools and other prominent experts have come together to offer future proofing advice aimed at helping legal graduates and young lawyers keep up with the times to survive and thrive.
The experts have outlined 4 key actions/considerations:
1. Keep tabs on where the profession is moving digitally/technologically.
2. Think about law from a global perspective. What trends can you see? What is happening in law across the world and how does it (or, could it) affect you as practicing lawyer in Australia?
3. Think beyond the law and consider what other avenues are open to you to progress your career.
4. Never lose sight of the core principles which form the foundation of law practise.
Digital disruption has taken over much of the legal grunt-work and according to Tom Bathurst, NSW Chief Justice: "The reality is that technology, either directly or indirectly, will cut into many areas of barristers' work."
Dean of Law at UTS, Lesley Hitchens believes legal graduates shouldn’t view change negatively as technology offers many opportunities and benefits to lawyers such as making working remotely, dealing with clients and digital communication across borders all much easier.
"Any lawyer that has a technology background is going to be far more beneficial [in the workplaces of the future],” says Dominic Woolrych, Lawpath legal product manager, an Australian online provider.
The Global Landscape
With technology making it much easier to connect with people and businesses across the world. Law educators advise budding lawyers prepare themselves well to compete in a borderless world.
Many international law firms are entering the Australian marketplace and others are forming mergers with big law firms.
What does this mean for Australian lawyers?
According to the Dean of Law at Macquarie University, Natalie Klein, there is an “increasing need for Australian lawyers to handle matters that have international dimensions & the need to work with local counsel in other countries, & the use of offshore firms for some core paralegal activities.”
So what should young lawyers focus on to remain in the game?
"It's going to be a world where you still really need to concentrate on your core skills & then be prepared for a whole new range of possibilities. Internationally, globally, the walls are breaking down. You've got to be competitive internationally - you do that by understanding the principles of good lawyering,” informed Sydney Law School Pro Dean, Cameron Stewart.
Learning the law of your jurisdiction and being able to adapt it for other jurisdictions remains vital.
Set Your Sights Beyond Law
Law can be undertaken with various careers in mind. Today it is seen as a degree which can form a part of a wider education, taking you down various professional paths.
"There's greater recognition today that a law degree is much more a qualification that sets you up for a range of career options,” pointed out Stephen Bottomley, ANU’s Dean of Law.
Don’t Forget The Principles
Don’t lose your focus when it comes to knowledge, principles and core skills
"If you're trying to keep up with everything that's just happened you miss the point. We're teaching them 'what are the themes? What are the principles?' Then they can deal with whatever happens," explained Cameron Stewart from Sydney Law School.