3 Ways Companies Stay Ahead of Legal Industry Shifts

September 20, 2022

In parts one and two of this blog series, we highlighted the rise in demand for in-house legal counsel and laid out the top skills students and lawyers need to work on to increase their hireability and credibility for in-house roles.

Some of this responsibility of increasing the number of lawyers prepared for in-house roles lies with external partners, as well. As the need for in-house counsel rises, legal tech and in-house companies need to do better in providing opportunities for law students to get hired right after graduating.

Right now, in the legal industry, there is a problem of the chicken and the egg. Companies with in-house teams don’t want to hire law students because they prefer pre-trained people. But law schools will not offer enough classes to prepare students to go in-house if there are no opportunities there for new lawyers.

Therefore, law students can get stuck in a cycle of needing experience to get experience and continue to see working at law firms as their only viable post-graduation options.

On the corporate side, companies would benefit from considering the cost “un-training” that needs to occur with candidates coming from a firm against the cost of “training” fresh lawyers straight out of law school. On the flip side, law schools would do well to open up their classes in terms of size and curriculum to better prepare students for in-house roles.

Here are three ways companies and law schools can start driving systemic change:

Offer expanded training for corporate legal skills

If corporations want to develop talent for an entry-level perspective, then they need to offer training. Examples of training include providing practical sessions with other in-house lawyers who demonstrate how to negotiate certain clauses, ”ride-alongs” where new candidates watch an actual contract negotiation, and corporate/virtual universities with content from subject matter experts. The key here is for the training to be practical. There are a lot of opportunities for legal tech startups to offer this training too.

Expand the opportunities students are exposed to in law school

With the legal world changing, law schools need to pivot, as well. Law schools need to provide opportunities and prepare law students for the realities of pursuing a career in a corporate counsel role. That means offering classes on topics like the basics of contract drafting and negotiating, skills needed for in-house roles.

Encourage representatives from in-house corporations to recruit from law schools

Traditionally, law school graduates would be funneled into firms that weighed grades and school credentials heavily in recruitment. Now, there is a shifting trend.  People are opening up to recognize more diverse opportunities upon graduation from law school. This is partially driven by the rise of legal operations and tech, which has led to more options for lawyers fresh from graduation. Law schools’ recruitment fairs need to reflect that. 

Lawyers are now weighing consulting offers from big firms like EY and Deloitte, as well as roles in legal operations, legal tech, sales, product, and even legal engineering. Law schools need to offer students opportunities to learn about these positions. Today, top law firms are recognizing the versatility and flexibility of the legal degree, but still put up clerkships and big law as the more glamorous pathways.

Want to learn more about how to pursue an in-house legal career path? Click here to find out how you can increase your marketability and connect directly with in-house legal recruiters and hiring managers.

This article was written by Memme Onwudiwe, Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Intelligence at Evisort, Jack Terschluse, Corporate Counsel & Acting Corporate Secretary, Head of Procurement at Balto, and Lynn Ma, JD Candidate at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, and was first published by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists. It has been edited and adapted slightly for this blog series.

In parts one and two of this blog series, we highlighted the rise in demand for in-house legal counsel and laid out the top skills students and lawyers need to work on to increase their hireability and credibility for in-house roles.

Some of this responsibility of increasing the number of lawyers prepared for in-house roles lies with external partners, as well. As the need for in-house counsel rises, legal tech and in-house companies need to do better in providing opportunities for law students to get hired right after graduating.

Right now, in the legal industry, there is a problem of the chicken and the egg. Companies with in-house teams don’t want to hire law students because they prefer pre-trained people. But law schools will not offer enough classes to prepare students to go in-house if there are no opportunities there for new lawyers.

Therefore, law students can get stuck in a cycle of needing experience to get experience and continue to see working at law firms as their only viable post-graduation options.

On the corporate side, companies would benefit from considering the cost “un-training” that needs to occur with candidates coming from a firm against the cost of “training” fresh lawyers straight out of law school. On the flip side, law schools would do well to open up their classes in terms of size and curriculum to better prepare students for in-house roles.

Here are three ways companies and law schools can start driving systemic change:

Offer expanded training for corporate legal skills

If corporations want to develop talent for an entry-level perspective, then they need to offer training. Examples of training include providing practical sessions with other in-house lawyers who demonstrate how to negotiate certain clauses, ”ride-alongs” where new candidates watch an actual contract negotiation, and corporate/virtual universities with content from subject matter experts. The key here is for the training to be practical. There are a lot of opportunities for legal tech startups to offer this training too.

Expand the opportunities students are exposed to in law school

With the legal world changing, law schools need to pivot, as well. Law schools need to provide opportunities and prepare law students for the realities of pursuing a career in a corporate counsel role. That means offering classes on topics like the basics of contract drafting and negotiating, skills needed for in-house roles.

Encourage representatives from in-house corporations to recruit from law schools

Traditionally, law school graduates would be funneled into firms that weighed grades and school credentials heavily in recruitment. Now, there is a shifting trend.  People are opening up to recognize more diverse opportunities upon graduation from law school. This is partially driven by the rise of legal operations and tech, which has led to more options for lawyers fresh from graduation. Law schools’ recruitment fairs need to reflect that. 

Lawyers are now weighing consulting offers from big firms like EY and Deloitte, as well as roles in legal operations, legal tech, sales, product, and even legal engineering. Law schools need to offer students opportunities to learn about these positions. Today, top law firms are recognizing the versatility and flexibility of the legal degree, but still put up clerkships and big law as the more glamorous pathways.

Want to learn more about how to pursue an in-house legal career path? Click here to find out how you can increase your marketability and connect directly with in-house legal recruiters and hiring managers.

This article was written by Memme Onwudiwe, Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Intelligence at Evisort, Jack Terschluse, Corporate Counsel & Acting Corporate Secretary, Head of Procurement at Balto, and Lynn Ma, JD Candidate at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, and was first published by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists. It has been edited and adapted slightly for this blog series.