Technology and Gen Z – Is your law firm getting left behind?
Thinking back to ten years ago, could you have predicted how your business would evolve over the next decade? And could you have predicted the change in workforce culture with the introduction of Generation Z (those born after 1995) to the workforce?
Ten years ago, many Gen Z’ers were still at school. In the age of technology, many students were already being introduced to iPads, Office 365 and a wealth of other productivity tools at school, each designed to boost efficiency and prepare students for the workplace of the future.
Due to the fast-paced nature of emerging technology and young people immersing themselves in technology quicker than ever before, schools have been under increased pressure to keep up with digital natives. The education sector has managed to successfully adopt modern ways of working to keep up, but many businesses have not been able to continue embracing digital and technology after these students leave school and enter the workforce.
So why can’t businesses keep up with the schools that typically have lesser budgets and lack of resources when compared to large-scale law firms?
Law Firm Culture
One of the major barriers to adopting technology and attracting young talent is culture and the traditional culture of longevity that is often found in law firms. The traditional partnership track of succession and progression in a law firm will seem too slow for Gen Z as they are a generation who has come to expect instant gratification – eight to ten years post-qualification is far too long to wait to apply to become a partner. Becoming a partner might not even be something that attracts Gen Z as valuing work-life balance is much higher on the agenda than a top salary and title.
Corporate cultures are not synonymous with the views of Gen Z and this makes it difficult for law firms to attract them in the first place, especially when historically, openness and transparency have not been at the top of the agenda for the legal profession. This is what needs to change. A younger workforce will expect true transparency and the opportunity to feel empowered enough to influence the decision-making process; this is where embracing technology can really help.
Technology in your Law Firm
When looking at your current technology stack, you might find that nothing has changed since 2010 and there are a variety of reasons for this; it might be cost related, or you might feel that your current systems are reliable enough for your firm at an operational level.
However, as we move through 2020 and beyond, we will start to see more and more issues with older systems and technologies. Firms will not only leave themselves open to security threats and lack of support from the providers who have since moved on but will also limit the talent of younger generations who have joined the workforce. In addition, businesses will start to hire employees from Generation Z who have more experience with the newest technologies than any other generation before them, which means you could gain a significant competitive advantage over those who are not embracing the latest technologies if you get on board first.
As your law firm starts to employ younger workers, you will find that there is an expectation for you to have up-to-date technology. This is what the younger generations are used to and have grown up with; after all, many of them can’t remember a time with no internet! Without the latest technology innovations in place, Millennials and Generation Z will find it hard to harness their talent and become more productive if they are using older legacy systems.
Deciding not to invest in technology will ultimately affect your firm’s ability to attract and retain young talent. The new generation of workers are more inclined to apply for roles that offer opportunities to work with the latest technology, within organisations that embrace modern workplace solutions such as remote working.
Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
Adopting modern workplace solutions will put you a step ahead of your competitors when it comes to talent retention and productivity; your fee earners will value the opportunity and freedom to work anywhere, using the latest technology. This will change how your business operates and evolves as new ways of working will not be held back by dated systems, hard repetitive tasks can easily be automated, and your staff’s talent can be completely utilised. Not only will this increase the appeal for younger workers to join your firm, but it will also give you the opportunity to focus on your business goals and importantly, meet them.
Embracing technology and adapting to more modern ways of working such as flexible working won’t just benefit your firm in terms of attracting a younger workforce, it will also benefit your current workforce and in particular, women who may want to work more flexibly to fit around the needs of their family. One law firm that has got on board with technology and remote working is Keystone Law. Sarah Needham, Commercial Contracts and IP Lawyer, had this to say:
“Lots of traditional law firms are constrained by legacy IT systems which are difficult to change. Having access to industry-leading technology that enables us to set up and invoice clients in a matter of minutes lets me focus on my core job and be as productive and efficient as possible for my clients.”
Start thinking about the future of your law firm today. Picture what you want your business to look like in ten years, or even the next two years, and see what you can do to take advantage of the drive, talent and knowledge of the next working generation. To plan strategically, you will need to incorporate the ideas from the new generation entering the workforce so that you can build your business into a new generation powerhouse.
Change is difficult for any business, but it’s essential for success in the modern workplace of the future. Ask yourself this – do you want your law firm to be stuck in 2010 as you go into 2030?