The Changing Legal Landscape: How Will It Affect Future Lawyers?

Former lawyer turned ULaw Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Crisp looks at some of the key issues affecting those looking to enter the legal profession, ahead of next week legal cheek-ULaw Summer Virtual Vacation Program

ULaw Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Crisp

Before next week legal cheek Summer 2022 Virtual Vacation Scheme, we caught up with the University of Law’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Crisp, to discuss the changing legal landscape and what advice he would give to those seeking the employment of their dreams.

The former lawyer has gone through many changes over the years. “When I went to law school, we were very much on our own – left to our own devices,” Crisp says. “Here and now, it is so important to equip students with additional skills, to strengthen their employability, to make them future well-rounded lawyers who can make a difference in a team from day one – start with a bang .”

Legal life after the pandemic

ULaw has kept its campuses open as much as possible during the pandemic. Everything is now “back to normal,” Crisp says. “Most students prefer to come in and be social.” Campuses fully reopened in September 2020. “We’ve prepared students to be work-ready for 2022 roles.”

And the prospects? Has the past two years led to market instability and uncertainty? Crisp says no; “The good news is that there are plenty of training contracts available – for aspiring solicitors the outlook is better than ever. We are under solicitor in the UK now.

What about compensation? “Even better,” Crisp tells us. “By paying the £150,000 of NQ, the bigger companies are driving up the pay scales. Regional companies are beginning to compete to attract and retain the best.

The bar has always been competitive and, says Crisp, is becoming even more specialized. According to figures from the Law Society, 3,301 candidates applied for just 246 positions through the pupillage gateway in 2021. “The vast majority of our students become lawyers,” says Crisp. “The bar has shrunk and the chambers have changed and are now largely mini-companies, with CEOs and marketing directors looking after over 150 members. But it’s a great job and the bar course is still very popular, especially with international students.

The recruiting process is still partially online, says Crisp. “Some companies have started bringing people into assessment centers again and I think that’s the preferred option for candidates as well. But everyone has gotten used to doing things remotely, and there’s environmental reasons why it’s always a good idea.

There are other positive changes. In the recent past, there was no point in applying to Corporate America or the Magic Circle if you hadn’t been to one of the top five Russell Group universities and earned a first degree. “That is no longer the case now. Even the biggest law firms have a much more diverse recruitment pool,” he explains.

Law firms are becoming much more flexible and aware of the demands of lifestyle and employee well-being. The former lawyer noticed a seismic change: “The profession is moving forward – the covid pandemic has pushed it. The appreciation of the pastoral and professional support of the next generation has been remarkable over the past two years.”

STARTS MONDAY: Secure your spot for The legal cheek Summer 2022 Virtual Vacation Program

New opportunities

New opportunities are emerging. The technological space, social media, data protection and climate issues are the new buzzwords. How do we hold on? Stand out in applications and during interviews?

“Traditional areas remain strong – corporate roles as well as larger roles that have more social impact – immigration and family for example,” says Crisp. “But there is no doubt that every future lawyer will need to master these emerging specialties.”

Can a computer write a contract? “Well, yes – but at what stage do you need a lawyer to get involved?”

Students should ensure they are involved in extracurricular events such as The legal cheek Summer 2022 Virtual Vacation Program. “They must demonstrate an understanding that technology allows lawyers to provide their services to their clients more efficiently, helping them manage risk, etc.,” the former tells us. lawyer.

Social and environmental governance (ESG) factors have quickly risen to the top of the boardroom agenda as companies and organizations increasingly realize that failure to address them can be detrimental to their activities, both financially and reputationally. Specialist media sources report that around $120bn (£99bn) is invested in sustainable investments alone. Crisp agrees that this is a priority for law firms and a practice area in itself.

He keeps on:

“It’s center stage. Law firms want to be seen as giving something back. Laura Yeates at Clifford Chance has set up a sustainable recruitment alliance which is a sort of charter for recruiting more sustainably, and many firms have signed up to it. The idea is to recruit without tons of goods and bits of paper, exploiting online if possible. Candidates and interviewees should be aware of ESG, understand what it represents and why it is important. »

commercial awareness

Business awareness is instilled in ULaw students from the start. “We have a business awareness competition – students become mini-entrepreneurs and have to pitch,” says Crisp. “It’s important to get them excited, because a law firm has to be profitable at the end of the day. Most clients are companies with no particular interest in the law – they want to know how their lawyer can help them achieve something or be advised on the risk of doing something else.

Prospective lawyers also need to know that they will usually be part of a larger team, not only made up of other lawyers, but also accountants, lawyers and other experts, says Crisp. “Candidates should be aware of how comprehensive customer service fits together.”

The winning formula

The outlook is far from bleak for law students. Crisp says “there are huge opportunities for future lawyers. Student applicants should be focused but flexible. Be authentic. Identify their skill set. Demonstrate their passion for the profession. Ask yourself: what kind of atmosphere do I want to work in? A big company is not for everyone: some prefer small, niche companies with a more human face and a lot of work for private clients. It’s never impossible to change lanes (companies and majors) along the way, but with student debt to consider, it’s a good idea to try to get it right in the first place.

Peter Crisp will speak at legal cheek Summer 2022 Virtual Vacation Scheme, run in partnership with the University of Law, taking place next week from Monday 4th July to Friday 8th July. You can apply to join the program, which is free now.

STARTS MONDAY: Secure your spot for The legal cheek Summer 2022 Virtual Vacation Program

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