The legal sector has changed a lot in the past ten years. Advances in technology mean that it can be increasingly difficult to switch off – both metaphorically and literally – as our smartphones provide a constant point of contact through email and social media, even when we are away from our desks. New expectations for work flexibility mean that, in many cases, lawyers are able to work remotely and often do not have a fixed seat within the office. And the way legal recruitment and talent pipelining within the legal sector works is changing rapidly too.
A survey by Legal Week discovered that 95% of senior lawyers are regularly working at the weekend, whether in the office or remotely. The availability of technology allowing us to work wherever we are, on top of an increased desire for flexible working, can mean that legal professionals feel as though they must be on the end of their phones 24/7. A recent Bar Council report has also highlighted that 34% of lawyers feel as though their workload is unmanageable. But is being constantly contactable and having too much work just a vicious circle? And how can we address this problem?
It is undeniable that there is huge demand within the legal sector. But Mayer Brown, a London-based law firm, may have the answer. It has teamed up with the University of Law to offer an “articled apprenticeship” to school leavers who hope to leapfrog both university and law school. The first of its kind, the six-year programme will offer a four year, part-time LLB, a legal practice course and a professional skills course. This development has been described as “ground-breaking”, and offers an alternative way to pipeline future talent straight from school to ensure that the recruitment process includes all walks of life and that the legal market remains dynamic.
Have you witnessed any changes in your firm?