The legal world is changing. Economic forces, changing demographics and technology advancements are accelerating and shaping the global future of law. As we head into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, new technologies will disrupt entire industries but at the same time, create new opportunities.
Law will increasingly embrace technology. As more accessible and impactful technologies give legal professionals more flexibility and insight to respond to modern challenges, better outcome and higher value will be expected. Those who aren’t as future-ready will have to play catch up to stay relevant in this tech-focused, data-heavy world.
Only around one-third of lawyers are prepared to keep pace with the changes in the legal market, according to a survey of 700 professionals across Europe and the US in law firms, corporate legal departments and business services firms. Fewer than one-quarter said they understand the transformational technologies already here today, such as Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
“More than seven in 10 lawyers across Europe and the US say that both “Coping with increased volume and complexity of information” and an “Emphasis on improved productivity and efficiency” are top trends with impact, according to the Future Ready Lawyer Survey from Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory.
In both continents, lawyers agreed that the “two greatest areas of change” for firms and law departments will be related to “greater use of technology and greater specialisation”.
But good business skills are just as vital to success. In The Bellwether Report Series 2019, nine in ten solicitors agree that good business skills and good human skills are “of increasing importance” if lawyers are to be successful. Empathy, willingness to listen and speaking plainly are the top three perceived skills gaps in the profession.
“Our respondents make it clear that solicitors are not unaware of the vital role business skills play in today’s marketplace. But then again, as the overwhelming evidence of their optimism shows, the profession is comfortable at the moment. It may be that it’s easier to adhere to the status quo – the comfortable mindset of the trusted adviser who solves problems on behalf of their clients,” notes the report.
Are you team status quo or team future-ready? If you’re the latter, get a head-start with one of the best law schools in the world in preparing graduates for the future:
FRIBOURG LAW INTERNATIONAL POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMS – SWITZERLAND
At Fribourg Law School, international postgraduate programmes in Compliance, International Contracts & Arbitration, Commodity Trading Law and International Business Law are designed to advance your career as a legal or compliance professional in a rapidly changing world.
All programmes are recognised nationally and internationally for their high academic standards and demanding curricula. The University of Fribourg ranks among the top 250 universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019. Coupled with state-of-the-art facilities, distinguished faculty and a job-oriented curriculum, Fribourg Law School ensures each student reaches their full intellectual potential.
Located an hour and a half from both Geneva and Zurich, Fribourg is in the center of an important financial and business hub where thousands of large multinational companies, as well as international organisations and sports associations, have their headquarters. This prime location allows Fribourg Law School to integrate key industry figures into its teaching staff, as well as offer invaluable internships, networking opportunities, field trips, conferences and career events.
This picturesque medieval city promises a truly unique living and learning experience, thanks to a significant and lively student population. Surrounded by unspoiled nature, here, there’s a plethora of outdoor activities to choose from in one of Europe’s most exclusive mountain sports locations.
MUNICH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW CENTER (MIPLC) – GERMANY
Founded in 2003, the MIPLC offers the fully-accredited LLM programme “Intellectual Property and Competition Law” taught in English by leading professors and practitioners from all over the world. MIPLC students become true experts in patents, trademarks, copyrights, and competition law, some of the fastest-growing branches of the legal profession.
Classes at the MIPLC are small and very international. A typical set-up involves 38 students from around 20 nations in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia. Both students with a law background and students with a science degree are accepted into the programme, invigorating class discussions and letting people from different backgrounds learn from each other’s experience.
With its location in Munich, also known as Europe’s IP capital, home to the European Patent Office, the German Patent and Trademark Office and the German Federal Patent Court, students will have a wide range of practical learning opportunities at their doorstep. Add to that the many intellectual property law firms based here, as well as such big names as Siemens and BMW, so MIPLC students will see intellectual property law in action.
Motivated and interested students can also broaden their knowledge of specific issues in IP law and network with notable industry figures via the MIPLC Lecture Series, which invites renowned scholars and practitioners from all over the world to give presentations on current issues of intellectual property law.
COLLEGE OF LAW, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY (ANU) – AUSTRALIA
At one of Australia’s best law schools, the ANU College of Law is where you can enjoy an innovative, forward-thinking approach to law. Faculty here mix academic rigour with theoretical and practical expertise in their teaching. Meanwhile, class sizes are small so there are more opportunities to interact with academic staff and visiting guest speakers. Emphasis is placed on personalised learning, allowing students to tailor their studies according to their interests and goals.
Considering all the above, it’s no surprise that ANU has been named one of Australia’s best law schools in the QS World University Rankings 2018/19 and the highest level of graduate employability of any Australian university. But it’s not just learning that takes place within lecture halls and classrooms that make it stand out.
Its Law Reform and Social Justice Programme is where students can access opportunities to “explore and interrogate the complex role of law in society, and the part that lawyers play in promoting both change and stability”. It also holds regular events, facilitates a wide range of student projects and produces a guide to legal volunteering.
Adding to this is the ANU College of Law alumni network, which consists of more than 20,000 graduates worldwide, making meaningful connections with potential future partners and employers possible.
LAW SCHOOL, SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY – USA
This Boston law school is educating the lawyers of tomorrow. Recognised by National Jurist as the best law school for legal technology, Suffolk Law is home to many courses and initiatives focused on legal technology. It pioneered a concentration that helps students learn how to deliver legal services more effectively using technology and innovation.
Meanwhile, the Institute on Legal Innovation and Technology was set up in 2013 to oversee programmes, projects and new courses with a student-centered approach, using technology to deliver law-related services in innovative ways. As part of the Institute, the Legal Innovation & Technology (LIT Lab) is where students get to work as part of a consultancy and research and development (R&D) shop focused on legal tech and data science work.
Other tech initiatives to emerge from Suffolk include access to justice game, selected as one of the most powerful, game-changing projects at the World Justice Project in The Hague, and an app for judges and lawyers that helps juveniles avoid jail.
Graduate students can apply for the Global Law and Technology programme, the first of its kind in the US. Offering several specialisations in one programme, this LLM lets students specialise in one area that will help them meet the challenges of and prepare for the future practice of law.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International