Professional flexibility will be a top requirement for lawyers to be successful in the next several years, panelists at a Bloomberg Law conference for legal industry leaders said.
This means having a broader skill set and being able to work from anywhere, anytime, they said.
Attorneys have such a mobile life now and are able to work from numerous locations because of advances in technology, Greg Nitzkowski, managing partner at Paul Hastings, said.
Bye Bye Office?
Paul Hastings’s goal, therefore, is to eliminate offices for 10 percent of its attorneys over the next five years, Nitzkowski said.
Irell & Manella LLP doesn’t have a “face-time requirement,” Andrei Iancu, managing partner at the firm, said.
“The fact of the matter is that people work at different places at different times,” Iancu said.
This is a result of advances in technology and the influx of millennials in the workplace, he said.
Law firms shouldn’t fight these changes but “figure out how to use it for the best advantage to the client,” Iancu said.
For Paul Hastings, this means getting something done when it needs to be done—wherever an attorney may be—and then taking some time off, Nitzkowski said.
JD Not Enough.
Lawyers should have a flexible skills set, another panelist said.
Attorneys need to take a broader approach to work and be able to understand more than just the legal issues of a case, Lucy Endel Bassli, assistant general counsel for Microsoft Corporation, said.
“Companies will hire lawyers who can work with other professionals” because of their experience with non-legal issues, Bassli said.
In “the new legal world” companies are looking for “all kinds of professionals in all different areas,” she said.
The legal industry will see more jobs that are law-related, Nitzkowski said.
There will be “specialty” jobs, for instance, that require tech training and a legal background, he said.
Attorneys should have an “extra layer,” a global set of skills, Iancu said.
It’s not enough to understand the law; attorneys need to know “the business of the client,” for which business experience is a big plus, he said.
Some things never change, however.
It doesn’t appear that the number of associates who make partner—about 10 percent at Paul Hastings and Irell & Manella—will change in the near future, the panelists said.
The panelists spoke at Bloomberg Law’s Big Law Business Summit—West, held in Los Angeles Oct. 27.
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