Even before the advent of COVID-19, the legal workforce was on the verge of profound change. COVID-19 has accelerated the arrival of “the Workplace of the Future,” which is ushering in arguably the most impactful transformation of the legal profession since the introduction of computer technology a generation ago. To excel in this emerging age, in-house legal teams and law firms must first grasp the fundamentals of this shift and then adapt to it by re-evaluating what constitutes legal talent and then find new ways to identify the legal talent best suited for the Workplace of the Future.

The Workplace of the Future reflects three interrelated factors: technology, work, and skills. Technology has profoundly reshaped not only how work is done (e.g., the shift to work-from-home and video conferencing) but what legal professionals need to do in their jobs. Legal work increasingly involves more than just knowing the law and then applying it to solve a legal problem. Today’s lawyers must be able to use the law, along with technology, to address business problems and implement business strategy. This requires that legal professionals possess new skills, knowledge, and abilities.

The World Economic Forum recently confirmed the importance of new skill sets. In their Future of Jobs Report, the WEF reported that by 2025, 50% of employees will need reskilling due to the accelerating technology adoption. Critical thinking and problem-solving topped the list of skills that employers identified as likely to grow in prominence by 2025; for the near-term, employers emphasized the need for self-management skills such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility.

The particular needs of the legal industry make these skills even more critical. The trend in law departments is having to do more yet use smaller teams to do so. Law firms face increased client demands to complete matters more efficiently. This means that legal knowledge alone is no longer enough – lawyers and their colleagues must understand the strategic and tactical business context in in which their legal work occurs, and the tools and processes available to execute it effectively and efficiently (aka “legal operations”). Legal professionals must know how to add value, not merely how to practice law.

Taken together, these trends mean that law organizations must change their conception of what constitutes talent and then start looking for this new species of legal professionals. Fortunately, this does not require starting from ground zero to retool how a company or firm attracts and retains legal talent. The key is to look to existing sources of legal talent that have already made the shift to recruiting and developing legal professionals suited for the Workplace of the Future.

ElevateFlex made that shift well before COVID; from the outset, our approach has been to add value rather than merely supply staff. We have long understood that the value customers derive from our services requires that we select talent that is flexible, adept at using technology, and quick to grasp the business context of the work they are doing. This approach is self-reinforcing – our staffing model reinforces our talent’s flexibility and technological savvy, and, by exposing them to customers in many industries, with different business models and different approaches to legal operations, makes them innovative and able to deliver value beyond just legal knowledge. Our KnowledgeNetwork goes further; allowing talent to seamlessly tap into the global knowledge of Elevate’s experts, expanding still further their skills when and as they need to.

As author Cormac McCarthy wrote, “You can’t stop what’s coming.” Law organizations cannot stop the arrival of the Workplace of the Future – but they can adapt to it by leveraging talent that other organizations have pre-selected for compatibility with the needs of the Workplace of the Future. For ElevateFlex, the future has long been here, and we are ready today to help law organizations staff for now and beyond.