Cultural shifts are common in the legal landscape. These shifts have been occurring in law offices around the world almost since the legal profession began. A law firm that functions precisely the same way it did 50 years ago may lose exceptional talent due to its culture. It may also struggle to compete with law firms that have adjusted their approaches to suit modern times.

But adapting to cultural shifts doesn’t mean you have to surrender what makes your law firm unique. It just means you have to acknowledge these shifts and find effective ways to integrate those changes into the culture of your particular law firm. Take a closer look at common modern cultural shifts found in the legal landscape.

Technology Changes

As a rule, certain professions are slower to keep up with technological changes than others. Fifty years ago, virtually every law firm had libraries filled to the ceiling with law books. Since then, many of those libraries have shrunk, as Wex Law provided lawyers with a way of searching law libraries online.

However, in our experience, even if you convert your entire law library from books to online resources, you still may not have shifted enough to keep up with the times. Today’s clients often want attorneys who are comfortable with modern technology as well.

One good way to do this is to adapt your law firm to communicate with clients on their terms. For example, make sure your employees are comfortable communicating with a client through Zoom, text messaging, or social media channels. 

Additionally, consider equipping every member of your legal team with a tablet. In the modern world, many clients consider it more professional to take notes on a tablet rather than in a notebook or on a tape recorder.

Hybrid Workforces

For some clients, face-to-face meetings still have value, but increasingly little legal work needs to be done in person. Even some court cases may be handled virtually, depending on the circumstances of the case and the presiding judge.

Insisting that your workforce comes into the office every day may result in good talent going elsewhere. Instead, consider maintaining a primarily virtual workforce, especially for paralegals who are chiefly focused on research and writing briefs.

The legal profession has never truly been a 40-hour, 9-5 job. Often, attorneys must meet with clients at unusual hours or on the weekends. Asking for employees to come into the office during traditional office hours just means they typically aren’t available during those situations.

Allowing workers to have flexible schedules — whether that means working virtually or hybrid — can improve morale and may be essential for recruiting some top talent. At the same time, it makes it easier for you to have employees available during those unusual times of the day or on weekends. Workers who are trusted with flexible schedules may be more likely to agree to unusual hours when needed.

Diversity in the Workforce

We have found that diversity shouldn’t be overlooked in the workplace — and that applies to law firms as well. Often, the difference between top candidates is quite minimal. On paper, one candidate might have received slightly higher scores in law school or on the bar exam than another, but such technicalities rarely amount to meaningful differences in the workforce.

However, having paralegals or attorneys with different backgrounds could be very meaningful to the success of your law firm. You will have clients with diverse backgrounds, and they often want to be represented by someone who can relate to what they have lived through. Consider that looking at more than the numbers may benefit your law firm in the long run.

Mental Health Initiatives

Increasingly, society is recognizing the effects of mental health in the workplace. When work is stressful day in and day out, it places an unbearable strain on workers. This strain can result in mistakes or lead to burnout.

Modern workplaces may want to consider work-life balance initiatives. Offering hybrid work policies or allowing people to work from home may be a good start. But this isn’t always the right solution.

Other options that you may consider are implementing generous vacation policies, giving your employees personal days that they can use freely, or even letting them work reduced hours as long as they are getting their tasks done.

We also recommend that mental health initiatives go beyond work-life balance. The legal profession can be stressful in ways that other professions aren’t. For example, if you primarily practice estate law, your employees may regularly deal with clients who are suffering from terminal illnesses. Dealing with death regularly, even if it is just helping a healthy person make a will, can cause an employee to become depressed.

You may want to consider the mental states of your employees and provide them with psychiatric services as part of their medical benefits. This may seem unnecessary at first glance, but mental support can be very beneficial. Most likely, you will see an improvement in efficiency if you implement mental health initiatives for your workforce.

Client-Centric Approaches

Modern clients are savvy — with the internet at their fingertips, they can learn about laws in their area, rights they might have, and definitions of tricky legal concepts. To stay competitive within your local market, firms have to show clients the value that their legal professionals can add to a case.

This means that lawyers must be able to communicate on a timely basis, empathize, and demonstrate expertise and experience while respecting the needs of individual clients.

Collaborative Work Environment

More than ever before, top law firms are employing collaborative approaches within their offices. This might mean creating designated spaces where teams can come together to strategize, celebrate wins, or learn about updates in the law. In other instances, it might include implementing technologies to encourage communication between teams or departments.

Implementing cultural shifts in the workplace can be challenging. But by modifying the culture of your workplace to incorporate modern challenges, you can help set yourself — and your entire team — up for long-term success.

At Woven Legal, we match law firms with the type of talent that can help them effectively adapt to these changes in culture. Contact us to request a discovery call and learn more about what we can do for your law firm today.

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