University of Fribourg, Institute of International Business Law The legal world is changing. Economic forces, changing demographics and technology advancements are accelerating and shaping the global future of law. As we head into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, new technologies will disrupt entire industries but at the same time, create new opportunities.

Law will increasingly embrace technology. As more accessible and impactful technologies give legal professionals more flexibility and insight to respond to modern challenges, better outcome and higher value will be expected. Those who aren’t as future-ready will have to play catch up to stay relevant in this tech-focused, data-heavy world.

Only around one-third of lawyers are prepared to keep pace with the changes in the legal market, according to a survey of 700 professionals across Europe and the US in law firms, corporate legal departments and business services firms. Fewer than one-quarter said they understand the transformational technologies already here today, such as Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“More than seven in 10 lawyers across Europe and the US say that both “Coping with increased volume and complexity of information” and an “Emphasis on improved productivity and efficiency” are top trends with impact, according to the Future Ready Lawyer Survey from Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory.

In both continents, lawyers agreed that the “two greatest areas of change” for firms and law departments will be related to “greater use of technology and greater specialisation”.

But good business skills are just as vital to success. In The Bellwether Report Series 2019, nine in ten solicitors agree that good business skills and good human skills are “of increasing importance” if lawyers are to be successful. Empathy, willingness to listen and speaking plainly are the top three perceived skills gaps in the profession.

“Our respondents make it clear that solicitors are not unaware of the vital role business skills play in today’s marketplace. But then again, as the overwhelming evidence of their optimism shows, the profession is comfortable at the moment. It may be that it’s easier to adhere to the status quo – the comfortable mindset of the trusted adviser who solves problems […]

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