In the fourth of our podcast series on how to give your legal career the best start, David Pester (Managing Partner) and Ed Fiddick (Partner) consider how 21st century trends are impacting the industry and what it could look like in 2020 for trainees.
Hi, I’m David Pester, Managing Partner at TLT. There’s been a lot written, recently, about the legal sector, and there’s often a mistaken view, I think, that there hasn’t been much change, so, over the next few minutes I thought it would be interesting to talk about what is changing, and why it’s moving so fast.
So, picking up the theme, what are the trends that are significantly influencing and shaping the legal sector? Well, there’s a clearly, very significant change, in terms of technology. A lot’s been written about AI, but I think if you really focus on the legal sector, as a consulting industry, it’s about how they use the technology, and how they collaborate.
AI is going to have a major impact, but it’s difficult, at this stage, to gauge whether that’s going to be about new entrants, whether it’s going to be about the law firms, who really embrace technology, become market leaders, but ultimately, there is going to be so much that’s available, in terms of, plug and play, and the ability to work differently with clients, that the firms that ignore that will probably not survive.
Another major trend in the industry is buying behaviour. Clients, post 2008 and beyond, have recognised that they’ve subsidised inefficiency in legal practice for far too long. There’s a real advantage to being in a firm that gets that, the ability to think differently, collaborate with clients, and listen.
There’s much, often, written and said about the way clients buy, but time spent with clients, listening and exploring how you can work effectively with them, is going to be one of the continuing trends of firms that succeed, and any firm that exposes you to significant client facing work, is an important place to consider being at.
So, what direction do we think TLT’s moving in? Well, we’ve got a pretty clear vision about where we want to be. We think there’ll be fewer law firms, in the UK, long-term, and beyond. Ultimately, it’s about the firms that listen to their clients, invest in their platform, invest in their people.
We think technology will be very important. We also believe that it’s about deepening expertise, and making sure that the people in the firm feel engaged, involved, and understand what’s expected of them.
So, what sort of opportunities might you experience if you’re a trainee at TLT? Well, I suppose, I have quite a unique insight into that. Before TLT was created, the firms that became part of that business in 2000, I was a trainee, and I’ve gone right the way through the firm into becoming Managing Partner, and around me, there are quite a lot of partners who trained in the firm as well. I think that really demonstrates that there’s opportunity, if you have the potential, to continue to develop within the practice, notwithstanding that you’ve stayed within one firm.
Though beyond that, I think, it’s being in a firm where you’re given lots of exposure to clients, you get responsibility, but also, you’re properly supported. We invest a lot in the training and development of our people, to make sure that they feel that they’re well prepared, and know what’s expected of them.
So, if you’re interested in the legal sector, and TLT, I suggest you check us out on social media, #TLTUNPACKED. You can also find out more about us online, and ultimately, come to some of our future events if you really want to know more about what the firm is interested in doing, and what the opportunities are for you.
Ed Fiddick: Hi, I’m Ed Fiddick, and I’m a Partner at TLT, specialising in litigation and dispute resolution. When big trends impact an industry, it can sometimes feel quite distant from the reality of the everyday job, but the reality is these trends are already having an impact on the trainee experience.
So, what exciting opportunities can be found in the future of law for trainees who join TLT? Well, the answer is the opportunities are potentially unlimited. TLT is a firm in an industry going through significant developments, particularly in terms of technology and new ways of working, but also in terms of client demands. Trainees joining TLT will have the chance to play a key role in implementing new ideas and approaches. They’re going to receive high quality training and in a dynamic firm. They’re going to help us to confirm our reputation as innovators, and we think that’s going to happen in a number of ways.
Now, as David has commented, we’ve already seen an increase in automation of routine work, and we’ve built on our track record for service innovation by automating work, such as document management. So, just as we’ve moved on from faxes, and typewriters, last century, our work’s increasingly going to benefit now from the use of technology. Old trainee tasks, such as analysing and inputting data, reviewing references in a contract, and doing nothing more than passing it onto their supervisor, are going to disappear.
Trainees are going to need to expand their skills too, as a result of that. Trainees are no longer going to spend their time pouring over references in a contract, instead, they’re going to be asked to draft the contract. Rather than spending time preparing documents for a court hearing, they’re going to be asked to consider the substantive matters at stake at that hearing.
Now, this is going to create fantastic opportunities for trainees, particularly those working in a firm, such as TLT, which is focussed on innovation, and finding new ways of working. Indeed it’s the future trainees who are going to help us determine, exactly, what we can achieve with the new technology, and, exactly how we mould that to deliver the best possible services to our clients.
Those relationships with clients are absolutely fundamental to TLT. What we’re about is delivering cost efficient, high quality service to our clients, and all the processes that I’ve been discussing, in terms of incorporating technology in our work, involving our trainees, helping us to develop that, and to deliver cost effective solutions are, absolutely, crucial to the overall offering that TLT brings to the market, and we’re going to try and work that in a different way to other firms. We’re not going to simply adopt the same technologies, and deploy them in the same ways. We’re going to look for other ways of doing that, and using our trainees, and our junior solicitors, more generally, to help us work out how to deliver the best quality product to our clients, in the most efficient way.
What we currently do has already shown us adopting a number of technologies. That frees up our trainees to do other important roles in the course of a corporate transaction, for example. Now, we’ve also automated document management processes. Our trainees don’t spend time contacting the Land Registry, for example, to obtain office copy entries. We have a team that does that. Equally, our trainees don’t spend their time preparing bundles, if we can avoid it, we have a specialist team who manages documents, large disclosure exercises, and delivers a high-quality outcome solution for our clients, in the most efficient way possible.
That leaves trainees with time on their hands, and that’s time we want to use effectively to develop you, to increase the quality of the work that you’re doing from day one. You’re not just going to be a small part of a process, you’re going to take an increasingly big part, in terms of, the work we deliver, and that’s really exciting, that’s something that you’ve got to look forward to, and indeed I think, in general terms, at most firms, but particularly at TLT, it’s a really exciting time to be a trainee, and to come into the law.
So, if you want to test drive law, follow us on social media, and check us out online to find out more, and attend future events from TLT Unpacked.