Law students urged to adapt as sector moves online

Law students are being urged to keep up with the sector’s shift towards technology.

As tasks once assigned to trainees are now left to computers to complete, industry experts have highlighted the need for students to prove that their skills still have a place within the modern law firm.

Like most employment sectors, the legal world requires aspiring graduates to adapt to the changes of the market and differentiate themselves from peers. However, given the traditional nature of law, it may be legislation itself which is struggling to keep up. As the digital world evolves, as do the problems which occur within it – as some legislation was drafted over 200 years ago, it’s not surprising that certain issues are not encompassed by statute.

Whilst tackling this issue may seem somewhat Sisyphean, equipping new legal graduates with relevant skills surely goes some way to adapting to the changes within the legal sector. Given the dramatic rise in social media use and technology company growth, it’s recommended that students look beyond the traditional work experience routes when embellishing their CV. Looking into programmes with online companies was a suggestion given by Andrew Murray. The Professor of technology at the London School of Economics stated that alternative internship placements show “awareness of a developing client base”, and could set the student apart from peers.

Whilst the growth in the online world creates a need for the introduction of new laws, it is also causing a shift in the way in which everyday activities are conducted. Currently undergoing a digital overhaul, HM Land Registry (HMLR) has been a prominent player in the technological shift, aiming to utilise modern systems and adapt their processes to improve the user experience. This goes to the very core of the organisation, with the goal of becoming more data-driven; by digitising certain elements of their processes, they aim to adapt to changing consumer needs. An example of this is the push towards digital signatures, enabling borrowers to sign their property deed online. Much like the other processes that they aim to digitise, HMLR claim that this will improve security and speed up the current conveyancing process.

Although technology is improving many traditional systems within the legal world, it also brings with it new challenges. With data regularly being collected by firms on a large scale, it’s not surprising that they regularly become a target for criminals and fraudsters alike. Since the majority of information is not saved digitally, this made it even simpler for remote individuals to target legal practices to obtain sensitive information en masse.

The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation will go some way towards minimising this risk, but for how long it will be effective is yet to be seen, as technology in the sector continues to develop. Bearing these factors in mind, Ian Walden highlights that privacy is an area of a law which is unlikely to go away anytime soon. The professor of media law at Queen Mary University of London stated that students with an interest in emerging areas should take advantage of this, opting for modules around media and protection in cyberspace.

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