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13 Mar 2020

There are 3 types of people determining the future of law … which one are you?

The law industry and innovation

This is the final countdown. Legal tech innovator, Nick Abrahams shares with us three types of people, two common traits and one way to surge ahead in the law industry’s new era.

Technology is shifting the legal industry’s axis and is necessitating a change in approach and attitude for lawyers who want to continue to do great work. Nick Abrahams, global head of technology and innovation at Norton Rose Fulbright believes this is a profession that lends itself to such adaption because practitioners commonly possess two specific skills that facilitate it. (One of them, most would deny they have.)

Thriving in the new world

An aptitude for complex problem-solving is a huge advantage for navigating change. It’s no secret that lawyers have a talent for intricate thinking and analysis, and this is a huge advantage and vital for them moving forward.

“The world is getting more complex and lawyers thrive on complexity,” says Abrahams. He cites the comparable need for adaption in the financial services industry.

“We have seen that the more routine work that traditional accountants do has been massively impacted by machines literally in the last four years. But there are great opportunities for accountants who can provide further value beyond simple accounts and tax return preparation - witness the growth of the Big Four professional service firms in the last few years.”

With the emergence of big data analytics and artificial intelligence, Abrahams believes there is a lesson in this for lawyers.

“The machines will be able to do some of the more routine work. However, technically skilled lawyers will still thrive in the new world. The biggest opportunities are for lawyers who embrace the opportunities created by working with the machines.”

He stresses that this does not mean lawyers need to be coders. “It is rare to find a great coder who is also a great lawyer. Better to a be a great lawyer who is comfortable with using technology. Lawyers will be augmented by the machines.”

The X Factor

There is one other trait prevalent in the law community that will determine an individual’s propensity to adapt, transform and succeed.

Abrahams recently revealed in an episode of the Smart Dust podcast that many lawyers he speaks to don’t consider themselves to be creative.

He begs to differ.

“Most lawyers do not view what they do as creative and I think that is wrong. People limit the concept of creativity to things like film making or pottery. Yet what lawyers do is inherently creative - it is problem solving mixed with high degrees of empathy.”

Abrahams warns that embracing that creativity is crucial to maximising competitive edge in this age of digital disruption.

“It is not hard to change” says Abrahams. “How you view yourself and your world is completely controlled by you. It is a simple mindset shift - lawyers need to think ‘I am creative’ and it will be so. Just ask any cognitive behavioural therapist.”

3 types of people

He believes that there are three types of people when it comes to technology.

There are the Prayers.

“The prayers are generally over 50, and they're just praying that they get to retire before the machines take their jobs,” he says.

There are the Stayers.

“Stayers are people generally over the age of 30, and they’re not embracing technology, and that's a problem. They're looking at it from the point of view of,

‘If I do a good job, then I’ll get to keep my job’- which is just not true these days, so we've got to help those people.”

And finally; the Players.

“Then you've got your under-30s who are all mostly players, and they've embraced technology and they are using it to make them great at what they do and the services they provide to their clients.”

Is it too late to change?

Good news for the Players, but what if you are in one of the other two camps? What if you are not an early adopter or fast to adapt? Is it there any hope?

“Yes,” says Abrahams. “We all need to be Players and with the right mindset and the support of our organisations, we can all find prosperity in the new world.“

Hear more from Nick Abrahams at Legal Innovation & Tech Fest, 28-29 April, Sydney.

Nick will address the topic of the Future of Law and Lawyers - discussing the major trends driving the future of the law and importantly what lawyers need to do to ensure they thrive in this new world. The world is getting more complex and lawyers thrive on complexity. So, the future is bright for lawyers – but not all lawyers. Many lawyers will not make it across the chasm.  His presentation will include:

  • Understanding exponential growth in competitive threats
  • Leveraging exponential growth trends to maximise advantage
  • What are the tools to thrive?
  • Achieving genuine innovation in legal
  • Embracing creativity for lawyer


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