By Josh Silver
In the modern world, technological innovations are occurring at a dizzying pace. Every industry and profession has seen dramatic improvement and vast changes to the way in which they had historically operated, as a result of these impressive improvements and advancements. With each passing year, more and more improvements occur, and the ability to incorporate these improvements and apply them to professional life becomes a glaring necessity. Furthermore, younger generations who are now or soon to be entering the workforce will come from an upbringing and a perspective where they have known no life without the advent and pervasiveness of technological aides and intelligently designed products.
It is important to consider the perspective of the young, eager employee. At present, professional and employment opportunities are controlled or determined by a generation of employers, managers, and supervisors who are likely to have come of age and matured as employees in an environment that did not necessarily embrace automation, let alone modern practices immediately as they became available. To be sure, technology is now widely used, and many companies could not function without using modern conveniences and technologies. But what does the young potential employee look for in an employer?
Companies and firms that are best poised to succeed in the future are those who are quick to adopt and embrace modern developments. By being at the forefront of any advancement, these organizations will be better prepared to move forward and recruit the best potential employees. After all, those potential employees are going be young people who have grown up in the digital age. They may not be accustomed to a work environment – or any environment – that is bereft of technology. The best and the brightest among new employees, and specifically young lawyers, will almost always have the opportunity or luxury of choice in selecting their employer. If it is those upper echelon lawyers that a particular employer wants to hire, those fortunate enough to have options are likely to select someone who embraces the digital age.
This is critical because recently graduated young lawyers are among a unique demographic. The technologically savvy employee will look to secure work in an environment that utilizes every practical innovation. This demographic is old enough to remember making repeated trips to the library to perform elementary and high school research projects in encyclopedia and other resources without any computer aids – three cheers for the Dewey Decimal System! Yet many of them are young enough to consider themselves technologically savvy and socially engaged. Furthermore, it will not be long before there is a group of law school graduates who have never known a world without pervasive technology accessible at their fingertips. It is this demographic that is the next wave of lawyers, paralegals, and law clerks.
An employer that wants to stay on top of the industry by attracting the best employees will have to make themselves as appealing as possible for the potential employee. The firms that will best succeed in this endeavour going forward are those firms which readily and rapidly embrace time and cost-saving technology.
Much like any other industry, lawyers talk amongst themselves, sharing information about best practices and firm cultures. Reflecting on similar conversations held with other articling students and young associates at their various law firms, there was a stark contrast in the way some firms readily utilized what was available, and others that eschewed such products and innovations. It was an interesting reminder of the dichotomy between various law school professors, and their approach to educating future lawyers.
Having been fortunate enough to work at a firm with a good grasp of the importance of technology, I find it tremendously unlikely I would go to work in the future at a firm that does not embrace it in the same way. Modernity equals efficiency, and efficiency equals cost-savings. As we now live in an age of instantaneous access to information, the professionals that we seek out to act on our behalf should be making use of every relevant convenience and innovation. To not do so means being left behind in the ongoing struggle for attracting both bright legal talent and the lifeblood of the legal industry everywhere, clients.