In two-decades legal industry could change its face, not only because of technology. But, also, in the way the profession will be carried out. Considering current law students and youngest trainees as well as the constant evolution of the field, it is possible that law firms will be unrecognizable by 2040. Indeed, the change of the last decade would probably be nothing compared to what could happen in the next 20 years. This is a global trend, Switzerland included.
Habits and attitudes of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1997) and Gen-Z (born between 1997 and 2010) are transforming the profession. And even though it’s true that they differ, they both represent the next-gen of lawyers. In particular, for both categories the future key-words are customization and diversity. According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, which studies the differences between generations, 44% of Gen-Z respondents want a flexible work schedule and 57% list communication as the most important career skill. The figures translate in legal world in a profound turning point: the next-gen of lawyer will have a great adaptability and aims to a flexibility of roles and timetables.
This would probably lead to a scenario where the market will be dominated by few big firms and plenty of smaller firms. In effect, they will customize the work, which will include a diversity of fields and so not only related to the legal circle. Most likely, there will be joint-ventures with technology companies or other formulas which will loose strict rules of current law firm structures. It’s not a case if, as a Deloitte study points out, Swiss millennials see digital transformation more as a challenge than a threat. In particular, according to 2019’s results, they believe digital technologies and industry 4.0 are changing the nature of work.
Furthermore, 78% are confident they have all or some of the required skills and knowledge they will need for a world being shaped by industry 4.0. Like their peers in other countries, Swiss millennials value experiences more than starting a family or earning a high salary. “While 52 percent of global respondents are keen to earn a high salary and be wealthy, making this the second highest ambition in the ranking, only 42 percent of Swiss respondents express the same desire”, Deloitte’s report underlines.
Specifically, being already familiar with AI tools, the next lawyers will bring this experience to a new level. Two specific aspects will be crucial: data and topics. As for the first one, to help cut through complicated morass of international regulations on data and privacy, more and more new law firms will employ technology to ensure contracts across countries and languages are standardized, but still meet each jurisdiction’s particular rules. As for topics, some specific areas of work could rise: if we consider that among priorities of Swiss millennial there is climate change (40 percent of respondents are personally concerned about protecting the environment), it is not unlikely that environmental field will become one of major field in the legal sector.