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Survive or thrive? how to propel your legal career in 2020


2020 – it sounds futuristic, doesn’t it? While we might not quite be living like The Jetsons with flying cars and robotic maids, technology has evolved rapidly over the last 10 years. Especially in the legal sector. Now’s the perfect time to take stock of your skillset and where your legal career is going. While you already have excellent legal expertise, this will only get you so far in tomorrow’s legal world.

To be a successful legal services provider in 2020 and beyond, you need to understand the new technologies fundamentally changing the legal landscape.

Start by looking at where our industry is heading (not where it’s been)

New technologies are already reducing jobs in the legal services sector. And it’s only early days. Deloitte believes around 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036.

Fortunately, however, legal services will always need a human touch; new technologies only augment the work of the person using them. And new types of jobs are also being created, with emerging technologies taking out the tedious ‘grunt’ work.

Although many new technologies will change the legal landscape in coming years, there are three in particular that every lawyer must get their head around – artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud computing.

Here’s a quick rundown on each. 

Artificial intelligence (AI)

What is AI?

If you work in legal services, you’ve likely heard the hype around AI by now.

AI is a computing system that can take on tasks that have historically needed human intelligence to perform. It uses algorithms to process large amounts of data and provide insights, such as predictions.

Why do you need to learn about AI?

Incorporating AI makes sound financial sense for legal services. It can perform tasks, such as contract review and extraction, at a rapid speed and often more accurately than a human.

As AI becomes an increasingly larger part of a lawyer’s workflow, those in the legal services will need to understand how it works and its ramifications.

But AI will be important for lawyers beyond their own work. They will also have clients who are utilising AI. And these clients will need legal advice and guidance on the complex ethics surrounding it. 


What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a real-time ledger of anything that can be recorded, such as financial transactions. Documents on blockchain can be edited at the same time. All users can access and add to the ledger with records staying in sync.

Everyone accessing the file has a unique key that grants them access – which means every entry is immutably encrypted and time-stamped to the user. What’s more, users can only edit the content they have added. 

Why do you need to learn about blockchain?

The possibilities for blockchain within the legal profession are only beginning to be realised.

But the security of knowing documents can’t be tampered with will open countless doors for lawyers and their clients.

The growth of blockchain is predicted to be exponential from this point forward. So there’s no better time to learn how your legal practice or organisation can harness its potential. 

Cloud computing systems

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the process of storing and accessing data online, rather than on a server or your computer’s hard drive.

You likely already use cloud computing, since it’s been a large part of our digital lives for some time – from cloud storage service providers like Dropbox and Amazon Web Services to Gmail and Yahoo email servers.

Why do you need to learn about cloud computing?

There are many benefits to incorporating ‘the cloud’ into your service offering, including:

  • It provides a more robust back-up of your data with the capability to survive natural disasters and power failures
  • It allows staff to adopt flexible working arrangements
  • It provides data security that is often safer than a firm’s server

Take the first step towards propelling your career

A six-week course from The College of Law, Fundamental technologies shaping legal services: understand the technologies driving the business of law, delivers the technology skills needed by the future leaders of the legal services industry.

It will equip you with knowledge on the major technologies disrupting the way lawyers work, and the skills legal teams need to survive in our digital future.

The subject is part of the College’s newly formed Master of Legal Business, and is led by Teaching Fellow, Michelle Mahoney. Registrations close 13 February 2020 and spaces are limited – enrol today.