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AUTHOR : Richard King

DATE : 25 February 2022


There is a point on which we no longer need to insist: the health crisis, from which we are still unfortunately struggling to emerge, has truly transformed and impacted the life of legal structures. If today, the legal industry is facing favourable economic prospects with good growth a key story in last year’s performance, structural changes are in progress and will continue to be factors in the coming year.

The first transformation is obviously the digital one. Indeed, while the health crisis has forced legal practices to adapt very quickly, it has also enabled them, thanks to technology, to improve the daily lives of employees and facilitate communication with their clients. This trend, amplified by the pandemic, is very unlikely to experience any major reversal even if the easing of the pandemic allows more normal working conditions to resume. The beginning of this year is therefore a good opportunity to take stock of the long-term changes to put in place. A recent survey by HSBC on investments by law firms in the United Kingdom shows that the management of firms put this subject at the top of their concerns and in particular the technologies allowing interaction with clients.

Another trend that management can no longer ignore at the start of the year is the question of the social responsibility of the legal profession, against the backdrop of striking the right balance between profitability and community commitment. Firms must ask themselves how they can support their clients in this area, but they must also ensure that their brand reflects this increasingly essential dimension as they look to mobilize their resources and promote the attractiveness of their firms.

A final trend concerns the management impact of increased home working. The traditional, hierarchical model of a law firm is now facing serious questions, and there is a strong case that it will need to evolve towards a much more collaborative structure. If firms fail to evolve, those stuck in their old patterns risk having a competitive disadvantage by depriving themselves of talent looking for new, more entrepreneurial ways of working. Leading a team remotely is everyday life for many professions, less so in legal circles. So another immediate priority is to review holistically the employee relationship and the employee value proposition, and to consider the implications of these developments for the way the whole business is organised and operates.