The other day, I wrote about how small law firms are beginning to recognize and value the technology management contributions of their attorneys. And, in many cases, that value is being attached to young lawyers. How this all shakes out in terms of job structure and compensation is anybody’s guess; but, one thing is clear: It makes more sense now, than ever before, for law students and young lawyers to be working on their soft skills, in particular their comfort levels and at-depth interactions with technology, including, especially, technology that is built specifically for law firms, of which there is more available now than at any previous time period.
Law schools have begun to recognize the value of technology competence and management training. They’re trying to produce a new type of lawyer; but, the more immediate question is how that new type of lawyer fits into existing law firm structures, while the change they hope to accelerate has not yet been effectuated.
While most law students and young lawyers view, or are asked to view, themselves as moldable clay, that’s not likely the best option in this case. While things like fitting a role, and taking constructive criticism have their places, young lawyers presented with the opportunity to affect the practice of law in new and exciting ways should approach that challenge with the gusto of a start-up businessperson. If you’re being asked to blaze a new trail, blaze the fucking trail. The legal industry is all about precedents; and, the chance to work without the past as a counterweight should be embraced.
When a law firms ask a new attorney to assist in developing a revised technology platform, there is probably no better place for that young lawyer to immediately affect the management of that law firm, and its bottom line. If said young lawyer has had the law school training, or the wherewithal to develop the skillset necessary to accomplish what she is being asked, it could be an entirely revised springboard for launching a legal career.
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