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How has COVID-19 changed the legal profession?

Posted in Candidates, Employers, Legal Roles

Published on 03 June, 2021

There’s no industry that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. However, as we look forward to the full easing of lockdowns in just a few weeks’ time, businesses are beginning to take stock of just how their sectors have changed for good.

Law is no different. According to reports, nearly 3 in 4 lawyers state that there have been many day-to-day changes as a result of the pandemic. Our legal recruitment specialist, Sophia, explores what the ‘new normal’ holds for the legal industry in 2021 and onwards.

A better outlook for gender balance

Gender parity within the industry has slowly but surely been improving over the past few years. A study in 2019 by the SRA reported that 49 per cent of women make up lawyers in law firms, and the majority (54 per cent) of pupil barristers were women.

However, gender bias issues came to light further up the career ladder. Only 34 per cent of partners in law firms were women, and this figure worsened when it came to QCs (16 per cent). One of the key explanations for this sudden dive in gender parity was explained by the traditional system of the profession which was averse to allowing flexible working. This put many women, especially those who wanted to start families, at a disadvantage to their male counterparts.

Nevertheless, after a year of enforced remote working, the ability for lawyers to do their jobs productively and successfully while working from home has been proven, as well an increase in wellbeing and work/life balance – common issues for the sector pre-pandemic. 

For those firms considering, or having already implemented, flexible working policies, this will undoubtedly have a positive effect on gender balance. Women with children or other caring responsibilities will no longer need to choose between work and family, but the two will work in tandem and we’ll hopefully see a large increase in the number of women at the top of the career ladder.

The need for technological skills

The legal industry has been very slow to implement modern technologies, preferring to stick to the more traditional paper trails. However, as we all begin working virtually for the long-term and businesses look at how to streamline processes, firms will undoubtedly be forced to think about embracing innovation.

Alongside this, employers will be looking for candidates who not only have trusted qualifications and second-to-none knowledge, but they will also be looking for individuals who are tech-savvy. The ability to use cloud-based systems while working from home and have a clear understanding of GDPR compliance will be a must, as will proficiency in the everyday tools and applications needed to make online working a seamless process.

An increase in roles for certain divisions

Many consequences of the pandemic have seeped into lawyer’s work, and certain divisions have become overrun with extra cases to manage. This is especially true for divorce lawyers, family lawyers, wills and probate solicitors and medical negligence lawyers. And sadly, this uptick in demand for these services won’t dissipate any time soon.

For graduates looking to enter the world of work, or seasoned lawyers exploring the option to move into their next roles, it is likely that these divisions will be desperate to plug gaps and ensure demand can be met.

If you’d like to learn more about how the profession has changed over the past 14 months, want to know what legal vacancies there are on offer at the moment or simply have a confidential chat with our specialists, get in touch here.

Senior Consultant - Legal Division

Sophia joined Cathedral Appointments in April 2016 as a Senior Consultant. She had previously run her own recruitment business but missed the buzz of working with fellow recruiters! Her law degree gives her a distinct advantage working with legal candidates and firms of solicitors. She is a great team player, good fun in the office and fab on a night out - although she can't really remember much the next day!

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How has COVID-19 changed the legal profession?

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