It will be no surprise to learn that many of us are by now tired of hearing about Brexit. I recently found out that a number of recruiters are also tired of reading applications discussing the same topic. Although it is a present-day issue which will definitely be affecting the legal industry, when you are applying for a training contract or being interviewed for new roles, it is always best to think outside the box. When it comes to commercial awareness questions, some law firms have started to explicitly state in the question that applicants should not provide any Brexit-related answers.
As aspiring lawyers, it is important to have an understanding of events happening within the United Kingdom and how the changing environment will affect the legal industry. However, due to the level of publicity that Brexit has received, it may at times seem like the easy way out when you are answering commercial questions. This is why I thought it would be helpful to focus this blog on a few current topics that may also be worth researching and discussing in applications.
Recently there has been a surge in the number of virtual banking platforms and millennials have really taken to this new banking phenomenon. The Royal Bank of Scotland recently invested £2 million in the fintech start-up Loot, with the aim of rivalling challenger banks such as Monzo and Starling. Monzo boasts 1.5 million current-account customers and is also reportedly making plans to move into the United States. With technology advancing at such an accelerated pace within the banking sector, it is worth asking whether the legal sector has caught up and if current banking legislation will prove adequate for these new banking methods.
Having been the main subject in a number of recent headlines, climate change was also the topic of conversation at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Across the world pressure is being placed on different countries to assist in preventing this foreseeable environmental disaster. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported that active steps must be taken before 2030 in order to keep global warming at a reasonable level. Some may argue that the global response to this issue remains sub-standard. However, how can the legal sector assist? It is worth asking what part the legal sector can play in order to encourage further progress in tackling environmental issues.
A large number of firms are now pushing to have increasingly tech-savvy offices and systems as they begin to understand the benefits of investing in technology. According to research conducted by CBRE, nearly 89% of London law firms are either already using artificial intelligence or are planning to do so in the future. It remains unclear how this will impact on employment, particularly at the more junior levels. Along with technology comes the change in office structure, with most firms now ditching the traditional layout in favour of a more open-plan look. As a new generation of lawyers enters the market, it is becoming apparent that changes will need to be made in order to accommodate different working styles.
The topics summarised above are just some of the areas which I believe will have a significant impact on the legal industry. It is vital to keep up to date with current affairs, as there will always be numerous topics to discuss besides the most obvious – stand out from the crowd.