Generation Y trainees about to shake up Legal and Legal IT
We’ve been away this Easter weekend to visit my wife’s family and whilst out yesterday I happened to get into a conversation with an ex-trainee of a Big Law firm. As I got on to explaining that I worked in the IT dept of a rival firm it was interesting to hear his questions and thoughts on Legal IT.
It left me thinking that anyone waiting for the current tech savvy trainees to give us Legal IT professionals an easier time ought to stop reading this post now as I’m about to depress you!
In fact if this trainee was typical of those joining law firms then the demands on Legal IT are going to get worse (or better if you’re up for the challenge). A couple of points stood out:
- Frustration at the pace of change in corporate IT. The bemusement at why law firms can’t keep up with software like he could at home. “We were still on Office 2003!” he commented as though this was a ridiculous situation. My comments on the difficulties of upgrading thousands of PC’s got a kind of “So what?” reaction.
- They do understand the IT dept but only the roles of those at the coal face. The service desks and IT support staff. They are unaware of the size and roles in the rest of IT.
Now this may have just been the situation in that particular law firm, but I doubt it. The challenge that stands out to me from this is twofold:
- The struggle of getting the old lawyers to use computers is going to change rapidly into a demand from new lawyers to use the latest computers and software. This I’m sure is starting to happen already, but it will only increase. Why shouldn’t a lawyer be able to do with his work kit what I’m doing now with my own kit (writing a blog post on my laptop travelling up the M5 whilst connected to the internet via my windows phone which is acting as a wireless hotspot! **).
- There needs to be better engagement at the trainee stage with IT. Get the trainees involved in the IT strategy early in their careers may reap benefits later.
Things are not going to get any easier for Legal IT, the demands on the corporate IT dept won’t drop off they’ll just be different.
Oh and the challenges for Law Firms generally won’t get easier either. This guy got disillusioned with the long hours, no life culture of city law and quit to pursue other interests. Generation Y is going to shake things up in law in more ways than one!
** to the iPhone users out there. That windows phone is not only acting as a wireless hotspot, it’s also playing MP3’s through the car stereo and scrobbling to tracks to last.fm. That’s multitasking!