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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Innovation Insights

Create. Disrupt. Deliver.

TechLaw.Fest 2020: The future state of law and innovation

TechLaw.Fest 2020 featured more than 120 speakers at the cutting edge of legal tech including Singapore’s Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong, Alibaba’s Senior Advisor Tim Steinert and Google’s Mary Shen O’Carroll. 

Clifford Chance's incoming Asia Pacific Regional Managing Partner Connie Heng, as well as April Brousseau, Laura Collins Scott and Shanice Choo from our Innovation team also spoke and shared some of their insights on legal innovation, technology and the future of legal service delivery. Set out below are some of the observations we made:

The legal industry continues to evolve rapidly

Changing expectations from clients and our own teams combined with developments in technology and perspective is leading to rapid changes in how we deliver legal services.  This has impacted ways of working, career development and what the future of law might look like.

New ways of working are expected

It is no secret that the legal industry has been slow to take full advantage of opportunities to work differently using technology. The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, accelerated the adoption of tech, where firms who were already investing in these areas certainly found the transition to working from home much easier. 

"Overnight, 6,000 staff from all over the world across our 36 offices transitioned to a Work-From-Home arrangement. Of that, 3,300 lawyers had to deliver legal services and close transactions at the same speed."  Connie Heng

That said, working from home with technology is only one of many ways in which we can be doing things differently and we need to keep exploring these opportunities actively. It is no longer an option but an expectation.

Legal career paths will look different

The traditional career path of a lawyer was once quite predictable starting with traineeship and moving hopefully to the coveted position of partner or general counsel. Exploration of alternative options was not something that was typically encouraged or widely explored. In the current environment however, creative ways of delivering legal services also requires a more creative career path. Professional careers in law will include not just traditional legal expertise but also more holistic skillsets which include project management, commercial awareness, and a basic proficiency in technology.

At Clifford Chance we are investing in our people by providing skills development training in a variety of ways including through our Automation Academy in Singapore, as well as our Clifford Chance Academy, Ignite training contracts and LIFT internships. We also leverage our innovation lab, Create+65, to harness some of this multi-disciplinary expertise to help solve client problems and create opportunities for lawyers of the future.

The future

It is impossible to predict the exact future of legal services. The point is not to be right or wrong about it; it's to be thinking about it at all. We need to not only be prepared for change, but be actively engaged in driving and shaping it.