The devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will have a ripple effect on the whole world and for the way people live their lives. Everything has changed not just for these few months but for the foreseeable future.
There are learning opportunities ahead. Many areas of law will see a significant increase - unfortunately, divorces are expected to rise in a similar way to the Christmas effect, we will change the way we work and what skills are considered desirable and we will also learn how to be more resilient in everything we do.
Certain areas of law will boom
The world has changed over the course of a few months and there’s no escaping that, with changes in the world come changes in law, specifically areas of law that are more important than ever.
The workplace has changed and so employment law will grow to include more cases such as workplace disputes over working from home capabilities, safe working environments back in the office and employer’s duty of care when it comes to potential second waves and future pandemics. There will also be new definitions on flexible working and how employers judge acceptable practice. Other areas of law that may see growth are legal tech with a new need to have digital solutions, litigation, with plenty of companies in disputes with customers over cancellations and delays, insolvency with the inevitable economic drop, mental health law and family law.
Divorce lawyers will be busy for the next year
It’s well known that divorce lawyers are usually pretty busy after Christmas but the lockdown we have all faced will create a super-charged Christmas effect when it comes to relationships. Divorces will rise, and the need for family law will grow giving way to more opportunities for future lawyers interested in Family Law.
Proceedings may take longer while social distancing measures are still in place, family run businesses may see a knock-on effect for many years and the number of care proceedings will continue to rise in family court after seeing an initial five-fold rise at the start of the crisis. Family lawyers will also have to take into account the stresses most people have been put under during this time and how that will affect settlements and outcomes.
A new style of working
It’ll be an exciting time to enter a law career. The industry is facing an overturn much like most of the world and law students will be a part of a new legal industry.
Law students lying in wait to become fully fledged lawyers won’t have the battle of trying to grapple with trying to change and adapt old behaviours, systems, traditional ways of working – instead they will likely be part of a new culture that can affect radical and positive change in the profession. Social distancing and remote working has created a new dynamic in the workplace. We are now seeing our colleagues at work in their home spaces with their pets and their partners and therefore the dividing line between our personal and work lives has become blurred. For future lawyers this means that law firm hierarchies will be more flexible.
There will be more focus on emotional intelligence, client/customer focus and the ability to flex and adapt to the raft of technological changes that will come while firms explore various platforms to meet the new demands of their clients. We’ll also see more firms endorse flexible working arrangements and work/life balance which is good news for future lawyers who will hopefully be able to balance their home life with work in a way that the legal industry has rarely seen.
Technological skills are more important than ever
In a post-pandemic world, we will rely more heavily on technology, which is where the next generation of legal professionals will excel.
Future lawyers will therefore need to demonstrate they can work with a multiple of software and hardware with flexibility and show their digital expertise from the application process onwards in order to contribute to a wider use of existing technology. They will also need to overcome potential challenges for firms in particular areas such as maintaining their brand profile and finding new ways to attract clients and build fruitful relationships without using traditional networking events/sponsorship/hospitality, as social distancing becomes more conventional. This will present early opportunities for junior lawyers to distinguish themselves technologically and entrepreneurially, through finding creative (and effective) solutions to this.
Studying through a pandemic shows resilience
Prior to lockdown, a common theme that law firms were wanting to explore was resilience, specifically how students with little life experience can be prepared for the workplace. The current situation with all its uncertainties gives the students of this generation time to utilise this as an opportunity to be more adaptable than ever before and prove their resilience to potential employers.
In these unprecedented times gaining work experience and networking has become difficult. Law students that still find a way to do this show future employers that they go beyond limitations and are able to quickly maximise effectiveness even during a pandemic.
John Watkins, Director of Employability at ULaw, said: ‘The challenge for the University of Law Employability Service is to prepare students for a very different workplace and influence employers to optimise their preparations to accommodate the next generation of talent.’
Read more about how our employability service is continuing to equip students for their careers throughout the coronavirus pandemic here.