Campaign: 09.05.19


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Using innovation to attract graduates

There is a slow motion revolution happening to law firms. The use of innovation and lawtech. It’s affecting all areas. Traditional themes of attraction – such as early responsibility, quality clients, and international opportunities – now have a new partner: emerging technology. (Or, simply, tech.) Today, graduates are seizing the chance to embrace tech, upskill and enhance their legal careers. No law firm can fail to ignore this.

What’s happening in the market?

Legal innovation is hot. Hardly a day goes by without news of a law firm launching a fresh initiative or agreeing a technology joint venture. What’s more, with general counsel under increasing pressure to come up with smarter, quicker, cheaper and more flexible ways to buy legal services, the drive to innovate is only set to accelerate.

Firms have responded, some more than others. From Allen & Overy’s Advanced Delivery  to Linklaters’ Ai platform nakhoda, Create+65 (Clifford Chance’s innovation lab) to Bird & Bird’s contract lawyering solution, twoBirdsFlex. The trend to use technology, Ai and resourcing solutions is only set to grow.

What are the implications for graduates?

Even the most conservative members of Generation Z are technologically savvy and switched on, socially and globally. Not phased by technology, they instead seek opportunities to embrace and use it. Tech will be part of any lawyer’s future lifestyle and identikit. It will also offer non-lawyers new pathways in areas such as Ai, legal project management, legal technology, and legal process improvement. Firms including Allen & Overy, Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst and Clifford Chance have all responded with training programmes and opportunities for graduates, in-and-around tech.

Shaping tech to attract graduates

Ahead of the pack, Allen & Overy features legaltech in its current campaign. The firm challenges graduates to seek more from their careers by embracing technology and change. Linklaters is direct: ‘Great change is here. Are you ready?’ Clifford Chance promotes its innovative Ignite programme, while Reed Smith talks of its innovative hub. Others skirt around the tech theme. But in general, firms need to do more. Students are keen to evaluate their options and eager to build understanding. Messages about technology can become powerful differentiators.

Arguably it’s easier for bigger firms who have embraced tech to talk about the opportunities. For others, including London offices of US firms, it’s about digging deep. Even if a firm doesn’t yet have a tech training programme or module, there are still stories to tell. Few firms lack innovation, most are using some elements of tech to deliver legal services. Structure your narrative to draw out the knowledge and insights of using tech. How it will help enable trainees to become future lawyers, better equipped to engage with clients in all sorts of situations. Address the mindset too. Pushing boundaries, challenging, new ways of thinking, adapting to change, providing the skills and environment to be a successful lawyer in a disrupter-led, evolving global market.

Embrace the tech message. Tech won’t go away. It is part of the legal landscape. Most graduates are tech savvy and will be seeking firms where it is part and parcel of what we do and how we do it.

Five ideas for shaping your tech message

  • Develop a tech narrative. Add it to your bank of messages.
  • Give evidence. Without relevant proof points, claims of innovation around technology won’t cut it.
  • Make your trainees brand ambassadors for selling tech to students
  • Tone of voice is on your side. Tech is exciting and new, so your tone can be upbeat, positive and appealing (think jeans, sneakers and backpacks).
  • Use aspects of tech, digital and social to showcase your commitment, both in attracting students and in your application process.

For more information on how law firms are branding innovation and lawtech, read our new report From Confusion to clarity: How law firms brand innovation and lawtech.’

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