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Globalization, shifting demographics and increased mobility are influencing the legal field and reshaping its workplace, according to Robert Half Legal’s annual research project, Future Law Office: The Evolving Legal Profession and Emerging Workforce of Tomorrow.
As law firm leaders approach retirement, identifying and accelerating the growth of potential successors is critical, the research found. Employers actively seek legal professionals who possess leadership traits, including strong interpersonal skills, sound judgment, business acumen and the ability to innovate.
“Retention and succession planning are becoming front-burner issues as firms focus on building a more diverse workforce, investing in employees’ long-term leadership potential and limiting attrition,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal.
Specialized talent is proving elusive. As law firms and corporate legal departments become more exacting in the expertise they require, demand is increasing for highly skilled talent with industry or practice-area specialization. Litigation and e-discovery are pivotal areas in which legal organizations continue to need targeted expertise.
Social media and Gen Y are influencing the legal workplace. The use of social media and collaboration tools has increased idea-sharing among legal teams. To entice millennial workers, law firms are offering open office spaces and work-life balance perks, including flexible scheduling and telecommuting.
Litigation is the top practice area expected to generate the greatest number of job opportunities in 2013, according to a survey of 350 lawyers among the largest law firms and corporations in the United States and Canada. The survey was commissioned by Robert Half Legal and conducted by an independent research firm. The top-five practice areas are:
- Litigation: 23 percent
- General business/commercial law: 20 percent
- Healthcare: 17 percent
- Labor and employment: 8 percent
- Bankruptcy/foreclosure: 8 percent
The report is based on interviews with experts in law firm and corporate legal department management; Robert Half Legal’s own legal staffing and e-discovery specialists and other professionals in the field of law; and on information from state and national legal publications and associations.