The Impact of Technology on Legal Recruitment

Written By:

Armand Chateau

Analyst, Forte Markets

As technology is becoming more widely used in many segments of the law, one particular area of development of LegalTech is Legal Recruitment. In this article, we have a look at the key aspects of legal recruitment which are impacted by technology.

Data-driven decisions

One of the major trends in the legal sector is to develop data-driven recruitment strategies to ensure more strategic decision making. This innovation promises numerous benefits in the long run. Legal professionals are now able to analyse the vast quantities of legal data, in order to extract meaningful and valuable information from it. The information obtained from such analytics can not only empower customer service and support, as well as enable legal professionals to improve their work-related efficiency and performance, but also transform legal recruitment.

In particular, automation allows to save time (and money) by screening large quantity of application material, notably CVs, according to certain pre-defined criteria, instead of having to go manually through them all. While this certainly offers some advantages, concerns have also been raised about the ethics of this tool, notably in relation to systemic bias when the criteria are based on past data and records which often reflect inequalities in the legal profession. The danger is that automation would then serve to perpetuate the existing discrimination in the sector. For candidates, this will also mean paying extra attention to constructing job applications and CVs to ensure the right words are picked up by automated processes.

Virtual recruitment

Because of the pandemic, we have seen a much quicker turnaround time with recruitment over the last few months. Virtual recruitment, with interviews conducted over video calls, has also sped up the process for both clients and candidates. The expectation of video Zoom availability recalibrated what it meant to work from home and how casually people presented themselves to each other over Zoom versus how they would in an office. Suddenly, and perhaps wonderfully, interviews have become less about how you dress and all about how you express when an employer judges you exclusively through the lens of a camera. Interviewing, much like employment itself, will likely never go back to a 100% in-person process and it is highly probable that the expedience of using video interviewing as a legitimate means to conduct first-pass reviews of talent has definitely been adopted.

Obviously, there are many pros to hiring remotely: it is less time consuming than scheduling physical interviews, can help to condense the recruitment timeline, and there are no travel expenses involved. Yet, assessing potential employees does pose some challenges, notably in matching a firm’ culture or sensing a candidate’s energy and intercommunication skills.
It’s therefore possible that virtual recruitment will continue to be useful for some roles or be incorporated into the early stages of the process, supplemented by face-to-face meetings later on.

International opportunities

Technology and its use, driven by the pandemic, have allowed employers to now shop for talent in almost any geography. This has expanded the talent pool infinitely for most, but also increased competition. Job seekers in the future must consider that location will no longer dictate a culling of resumes the way it did in years past, and talent in lower-cost-of-living areas with equal or comparable skills to peers in big cities may find themselves having an advantage in 2021 because they require lower base compensation. This has also meant more opportunities for talents seeking to work in an international environment and looking to work for a firm abroad.

LegalTech awareness

While basic knowledge and awareness of legal technology is not yet a key determinant in legal recruitment, it may become a more sought-for feature in young lawyers and trainees, as technology will become more widely used for basic legal tasks. This also raises the potential to integrate technology to law schools’ curriculum. With the rise of technology in the legal profession, more bar associations are also making it mandatory for lawyers to have technology-based CLE programs. This means that older lawyers will have to learn how to use things like form documents, Westlaw, and how to browse the internet. This is a big step because there are many lawyers who still rely on paralegals to do the technical work and have little understanding of how far technology has come in the legal profession.

From data-driven recruitment decisions to virtual recruitment, enhanced international opportunities and the likely-to-increase importance of LegalTech awareness in future legal recruitment, technology has and will continue to have a major impact on the legal recruitment process.

For an overview of the current landscape of legal recruitment and the impact of technology, listen to the latest edition of our LegalTech podcast, the Forte Edge, featuring Jeremy Small, CEO of Jameson Legal.