I’m breaking with tradition this year. I’m not doing the innovation and legaltech year in review reflection – we have a fabulous Future 50 Legalpreneurs Spotlight video/podcast publishing next week from Caryn Sandler, Graeme Grovum and Tessa van Duyn for you on that one. I’m going to focus on TWO THINGS, yes, just two things that resonated with me this year because I believe they have the power to shape (not just contribute) to sustained change in the legal ecosystem in 2023 and beyond…here goes…NewLaw careers and ChatGPT…
1. NewLaw Careers
In May 2022, we held the first ever virtual global NewLaw Careers (NLC) Summit. We were delighted and amazed by how enthusiastically it was received - 1,528 registrants from 57 countries. Two large groups of registrants emerged - law students approaching the end of their studies and lawyers with 10+ years-experience.
- The experienced lawyers tracked a career progression that founded many of these specialist roles i.e., lawyers who decided to leave practice and pursue a passion in another area like operations, technology, or data.
- The law student group reflected of a new law firm BAU – expansion of law firm services/products into business services and the consequent demand for talent, usually law grads with additional specialist training, to fill it.
Before the Summit and post, in our Legal Ops Clinic led by the amazing Mollie Tregillis and outside, we observed some more changes in the NLC space. Roles that had been around for a bit like legal operations:
- Expanded from their origins in legal departments to law firms
- Grew out of being classified as career-alternatives into career paths
- Demonstrated identifiable capabilities that tracked prerequisites in experience and proficiency with tasks from foundational through intermediate and advanced.
In 2023, assuming that predictions about tightening of budgets and economic woes emerge, legal ops professionals with their skills in project management, data analytics, tech, business, process improvement and relationship building, must continue to shine and many other NLCs will continue to be in high demand!
And now to ChatGPT launched in November 2022…Wikipedia describes it as “a prototype artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI which specializes in dialogue”- WOW! There’s plenty of media berating the wow factor. I get it but I also think it’s missing the point. We can’t look at ChatGPT JUST in terms of what it can or can’t do in the legal world today. It’s about what it can do tomorrow and how quickly tomorrow will arrive!
Just think about how the delivery of legal services/products will change when the data sets ChatGPT learns from are not just public but can be customised to an individual firm? How will it support and advance the world of document standardisation led by global initiatives like oneNDA and oneDPA? How much could it improve access to justice? There are also big issues to consider here like ethics and bias. These are conversations and deliberations that every lawyer should be engaged in and, where the legal voice needs to be heard! Do watch/listen to our Future 50 Legalpreneurs Spotlight with Uwais Iqbal when we publish it next week, his AI in Legal consultancy simplexico is producing great user friendly resources in this space.
So, looking ahead…not too far…ChatGPT has the potential to reinvent entire parts (and maybe all parts) of our ecosystem. Let’s take practical legal education as an example…How and what will assessments for law students look like when ChatGPT can find answers and create advice for every legal question or enquiry? Should we be training law students to use ChatGPT as a tool or penalising them for plagiarism? We want students to know how to use AI-based research and document drafting tools so, is ChatGPT that different? Legal educators will need to wrap their minds around how to redefine/assess competency and what they will actually be assessing!
It’s a brave new world. It’s still evolving. I’m excited about what has yet to come. We’ve been thinking a lot about how to prepare for a very different future and that’s why we’ve launched our Future Focussed Lab and will be chatting about Future Firm, Future Fit in Melbourne in February – we’ll be collaborating with you to find the solutions.
So, that a wrap for 2022, the Centre for Legal Innovation will be taking a break until 9 January when we’ll start rolling out a whole bunch of stuff you know and love (Roundtables, Incubators, Fellowships, Podcasts, Series) and loads of new stuff too (Women Legal Business Founders and Leaders, Legal Ops, Design Thinking, Tech, NewLaw Careers) - you’ll find a sneak peek here…we can’t wait to see you all then!
Thank you so much for making 2022 a huge and amazing year with us – we are grateful and we had a blast! Happy holidays…
About the Author
Terri Mottershead is the Executive Director of the Centre for Legal Innovation (Australia, New Zealand and Asia-Pacific) (CLI) at the College of Law. Terri works internationally with leaders of legal businesses supporting them in identifying trends, developing strategies, and transforming their capabilities and practices to deliver legal services/products in the new legal ecosystem. She is the “instigator, designer and developer in chief” of CLI’s global initiatives, networks and programs including the Legalpreneurs Lab, the Innovation Incubator Program, and its podcast series, The Legalpreneurs Sandbox. Prior to joining CLI, Terri was a practising lawyer, founded start-ups on three different continents, and established or led the in-house talent management departments for global firms and associations in Asia and the US including Lex Mundi, the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) and DLA Piper LLP (US).