As is the case with every sector, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an avalanche of transformations in the hiring landscape. While the scourge of COVID-19 will pass, the important aspects to consider will be when and at what cost.
It has turbocharged the legal industry’s transformation. While digital transformation has been a C-suite priority for the past few years, the implementation has been relatively slow in the legal sector as opposed to other industries, such as finance, education, etc.
Almost overnight, there was a disruption in every element of the legal sphere — be it hearing sessions, dispute resolutions, client meetings, or legal guidance — all of it had to be shifted online.
The entire judicial ecosystem’s working has been changed with the pandemic inducing the swift, comprehensive, shift to digital mediums for day-to-day operations. With such large-scale changes, it’s only natural that the hiring aspect has also transformed.
Today, law firms are hiring candidates through virtual mediums, and given the ongoing pandemic and remote working that appears to become permanent, virtual hiring, too, is here to stay.
For aspiring lawyers and existing ones, it is integral to stay updated on the latest virtual hiring trends and upskilling themselves to increase their employability quotient and avoid becoming redundant.
That said, here are some virtual hiring trends that are expected to emerge or stay and how employees can upskill themselves.
Virtual hiring trends: A projection
2020’s adversities have indisputably reflected on the hiring trends. As organisations are testing the waters for a hybrid model of working, the hybrid model of hiring is also set to become a standard.
At large, job interviews will be conducted virtually and perhaps even with automation playing a key role. HR tech has evolved drastically over the past year, and AI assistants may well be conducting interviews and assessments while hiring candidates.
With remote working and virtual hiring transcending geographical barriers, allowing employers to hire better talent without the constraints of relocation, virtual hiring has certainly earned its place in the current talent acquisition strategies of firms.
For the lawyers looking to move to a different firm, it’s important to approach a virtual interview with the same dedication as one would a physical interview.
Thorough preparation involving in-depth research will help one ace the interview. Further, in today’s tech-driven world, lawyers also need to be digitally savvy and build technological versatility aside from possessing the core technical skills.
The upskilling checklist
In recent years, the legal sphere has evolved unimaginably with technology creating new unexplored possibilities that can only be realised by a workforce that possesses the required skill sets.
First and foremost, one needs to understand that the distinction between practising law and engaging in the delivery of legal services because, like several other industries, the legal landscape is undergoing a tectonic shift.
To crack the scrutiny of the new-age hiring process — which is short yet gruelling — degrees, certificates, and prestigious institutions will only help a candidate to a certain extent.
It’s ultimately the passion, discipline, and thirst for knowledge that will help lawyers thrive in the competitive market.
Interpersonal and networking skills
Often, law firms are the conjunction between lawyers who work as one organisation to serve clients, making interpersonal skills and communication skills critical. While lawyers may be working remotely, communicating with clients and fellow lawyers to build a good rapport forms a vital part of the legal career trajectory.
Besides strengthening existing client and colleague relationships, lawyers need to forge new connections by networking, particularly doing so through online workshops, panel discussions, seminars, forums, etc., and leverage their network when required.
This is perhaps a fundamental set of skills that lawyers, regardless of their specialisation, must possess. As the world gradually but permanently prepares to be powered by technology, digital skills, especially in the age of remote working and large-scale digital transformations, are an imperative part of the required skillsets for lawyers. Digitally savvy lawyers can efficiently navigate their way and thrive in the post-pandemic world.
Besides the aforementioned, new-age legal professionals also need to possess skills, including analytical thinking, problem-solving, adaptability, and presentation, among others, as they make a holistic legal professional.
It is also vital for lawyers to upskill periodically to stay updated with the latest trends and avoid becoming redundant in an increasingly competitive market.
The days when firms hired lawyers solely based on their experience or legal knowledge are long gone. Today, with every aspect of the sector transforming, employee upskilling might just be the most important term in the legal lexicon.
Technology has provided the industry with the opportunity to collaborate and hire top talent without the constraint of geographical barriers to address the gaps and adapt to the fast-changing scenario.
Acknowledging this and working towards upskilling themselves will be a step in the right direction for legal professionals to climb the ladder.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YS.)