How Client Demands are Changing Technology & Hiring at Law Firms in 2021

A lot has been learned at law firms in the last year, perhaps the most important being that technology investment and information security are mandatory for keeping clients.

Client Demand

In the age of self-help and easy online access to everything from our bank accounts to our child’s daycare photos, law firms are moving swiftly to provide tools for their clients to efficiently and easily check the status of their case, pay their bills, and stay on top of case details online. Client expectations for these self-help services could now make the difference between securing or losing a prospective client. In response, law firms are making decisions to innovate and help their clients have better control over their legal matters, which in turn has impacted their legal technology hiring needs. Law firms are seeking developers with technical languages and skills that have rarely been needed in the legal niche before. Developers with Python and Tableau are being hired to create user-friendly dashboards and applications to serve the demands of the firm’s clients.

While these technology advancements are important and necessary for keeping clients satisfied with their law firm, they also create new risks and require new safeguards, increasing the need for risk assessment and security engineers. Clients, particularly those in sensitive information industries like healthcare, government, banking and finance, and insurance are demanding more security, information governance, and compliance protocols from their law firms. While this was handled by the CISO in the past, as these requirements grow in volume and complexity, so does the need for dedicated Information Governance Directors and other personnel to manage the information governance process for the firm.

Benefits to the Law Firm

Beyond securing and retaining the valuable business of clients, new technology implementations benefit law firms by giving valuable time back to their attorneys. New developers on law firm technology teams are creating digital dashboards to provide all of the data an attorney needs to speak intelligently with their client at the click of a button. Implementation of these business intelligence and artificial intelligence tools has also created an opening for data scientists to draw data from the firm’s various databases, synthesize, analyze, and then, most importantly, identify how the law firm can leverage it.

Adapting your Hiring Strategy

For many of these roles, hiring managers will need to look to the corporate world for recruitment, and may need to adapt their pay structure to meet candidate expectations. While sign-on bonuses are quite common in the corporate world, they are less common at the law firms we work with. Law firms may need to consider creating a sign-on bonus for these new legal technology roles or offer a slightly higher annual salary in order to attract the best candidates. As workplaces return to or find a new normal, law firms will also need to compete with the remote work-friendly policies and flexible work schedules being offered in the corporate world.

Law firms may also want to consider advancing the careers of their current Legal IT professionals by providing training opportunities. IT support staff could become valuable Business Analysts, using their knowledge and expertise with users to document and help developers successfully program accordingly. Legal IT professionals with backgrounds in information security could also be successful in the information governance field with the right training.  Investing in your current employees can be an excellent way to meet the talent gap for these new technology hiring needs, as well as retain valuable legal technology professionals.

Opportunities for IT Professionals

These changes at law firms also create opportunities for IT professionals to be on the cutting edge of technology in the legal industry. Law firms are looking for:

  • Web and Applications Developers to develop custom in-house software solutions.
  • Business Analysts to design and build sophisticated queries and prediction models and support firm-wide data analytics.
  • Information Security Analysts to ensure security requirements are included in technology-driven projects.
  • Applications Architects to create and implement new portals or to design and develop custom applications.
  • Security Compliance Managers to coordinate vulnerability assessments, penetration tests, and associated remediation activities.
  • Enterprise Applications Engineers to research, develop, implement, and maintain global software solutions.
  • Business Intelligence Analysts to plan, design, install, and configure flexible and reusable data systems or to implement data reporting, data, visualizations, or research projects.

While technologists who have worked outside of the legal niche may have years of experience with the work described above in the corporate world, it’s still relatively new in legal and it’s growing fast. Current legal niche technology professionals also have the opportunity to grow their skillset by pursuing certifications or training based on their law firm’s new staffing needs. These exciting changes at law firms create the opportunity to be one of the leading innovators in legal IT, which can then give you tremendous opportunity for advancing your career.

Technology is always changing, which creates new client expectations, and the need for law firms to adapt accordingly. When it comes to implementing new technologies and innovating to meet your clients’ needs, having the right people on your legal technology team makes all the difference.

If you’re looking to hire IT professionals to meet the demands of your clients, or you’re looking for a technology role in the legal space, contact us today.

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