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Legal trends to be aware of in 2022

Legal trends to be aware of in 2022

Bethany Barrett


Reading time: four minutes

Applications for vacation schemes and training contracts are currently being processed by law firms across the globe and, as video interviews and psychometric testing continue, many candidates are now being invited to assessment centres.

One of the key interview questions you can prepare for is about growing trends that will impact the firm as a business and its clients. This isn’t a strictly legal question, so it works well to be aware of both legal and non-legal issues. Here are some which I have been finding interesting recently.

  • Cyber threats to law firms

Cyber security is of growing concern to both businesses and individuals globally, and law firms and their employees are no different. The shift towards virtual working and an increased focus on digital delivery of legal services for clients has only escalated the issue. Incidents of phishing emails being sent to employees’ work email accounts are on the rise, and this is rightfully of huge concern to law firms given the sensitivity of client data their servers hold.

If you’re interested in reading more on this area, the Law Society’s pages on cybersecurity are especially useful.

  • Growth in demand for insolvency services

The covid-19 pandemic is continuing to make its mark on the business landscape. As financial aid packages from the government, such as the furlough scheme and cuts in business rates, continue to be wound down, more businesses are unfortunately going under. Sad for those businesses, but great for insolvency lawyers (admittedly a rather cold way of looking at things, but this is again a growing area of revenue for firms).

  • Sustainability practices

This is a trend both internally and externally for firms, and rightfully so. Internally, firms are placing increasing emphasis on cutting their carbon footprint through choosing green energy suppliers to power their offices and decreasing carbon-heavy activities, such as extensive foreign travel and paper usage.

However, this is a drop in the ocean of the efforts firms could be making, most of which are externally focused. Hearing law firms parade their internal efforts to slow climate change is more than a touch hypocritical when you examine the sorts of clients they may service. The growth in sustainable legal fields, such as green finance, as well as in the number of greener clients firms are servicing, speaks more highly of firms and should be a trend to focus on.

  • Alternative legal services providers

This trend has been slowly bubbling away for years now, and the pandemic has placed it on steroids. Not only has the pandemic resulted in more clients becoming open to less traditional ways of sourcing their legal services, it has also resulted in law firms facing the difficult issue of having their services homogenising with that of alternative legal service providers, which are more likely to be virtually based. With firms unable to ‘woo’ big clients with fancy offices and entertainment, they are having to re-evaluate the appeal of their offering.

A solution to this issue which many law firms are experimenting with is having a separate division of the firm modelled on a non-traditional format. Examples include Addleshaw Goddard’s ‘AG Integrate’, Pinsent Masons LLP’s ‘Vario’ and Evershed Sutherland (International) LLP’s ‘Konexco’; and this sector is only likely to continue growing in the future.

With all these trends, the key thing to remember when discussing them at interview is their application. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How might these trends impact the specific firm or the legal market generally?
  • What should be done to avoid its risks or capitalise on its opportunities?
  • Will different divisions of the firm be affected differently?
  • If so, what does this mean for the firm as a whole?

Being able to answer questions like these is vital. Anyone could talk about what they have read in the news or on the firm’s ‘insight’ pages recently, but in coming up with some original insight into what this all means you will set yourself apart from other candidates. 

For more advice on building your commercial awareness head to LCN’s Commercial awareness hub and read ‘Trending commercial issues to know about in 2022’.