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What We Learned At Our Leadership Roundtable With IDEO, Part 2: Trends Lawyers Should Consider Adapting For

April 15, 2020 3 min read
IDEO Generation Slash
Image source: IDEO

Recently, Ironclad hosted a Leadership Roundtable featuring IDEO’s legal innovation practice leader Sean Hewens. In Part One of our recap, we highlighted an exploration of IDEO’s unique, anthropological design system approach. In Part Two, we look at  the six trends Sean believes lawyers should look out for over the next 10 years.

Ironically, IDEO published these insights in February 2020. With the rise of COVID-19, some of these trends e.g., learning on-demand and well-being, have accelerated by months instead of years. 

Which of these do you find the most interesting or relevant to you?

Generation Slash

Rather than choosing one career path, people are embracing a hybrid of interests and orientations — all connected by slashes.

What does this mean for Legal? Will hires with non-legal expertise be more common as the practice of law itself becomes more multi-dimensional and reliant on different forms of non-legal expertise? Will part-time work opportunities proliferate as law firms accommodate the increasingly varied professional identities of Millennials and Gen Z?

Peter Panning

We are witnessing an aging population and a shift in what it means to grow up. Adults are playing video games, Millennials are choosing not to have kids and seniors are working into their 70s.

What does this mean for Legal? Will working schedules and incentive structures have to be redesigned to accommodate longer work lives and people entering the profession later?

Purpose-Driven Capitalism

Many companies have restructured their identity around a purpose broader rather than just generating profit.

What does this mean for Legal? Will the legal industry increasingly turn down clients based on their lack of adherence to changing cultural values, such as companies disproportionately contributing to global warming? Will the legal industry have to start reorienting its norms and practices around sustainability beyond considerations of building footprint and resource consumption?

Learning on Demand

The 4th Industrial Revolution demands new skills and and we are seeing a constant need for upleveling.

What does this mean for Legal? Given the fast-paced cycles of change and the increasingly short lifecycle of relevant expertise, how will the legal profession develop a growth mindset for mid-life learning and upskilling? Will we see vocational education or on-the-job apprenticeships replace law school? Will employers begin valuing this type of practical training instead of more traditional degree programs?

Well-being Takes Center Stage

Burnout is notorious among lawyers. It’s becoming seen as an occupational health risk and result of chronic workplace stress rather than a result of personal circumstances.

What does this mean for Legal? As a healthy work-life balance becomes the expected norm, will the legal industry increase options for flex-time, telecommuting, part-time work and compressed schedules?

Law Becomes Truthfully Artificially Intelligent

AI offers opportunities to positively redefine the meaning of work as dull or routine tasks are automated and the importance of the “human touch” becomes essential.

What does this mean for Legal? Will the legal industry hire more technology specialists with the mandate of increasing the integration of tech into legal practice? As certain forms of routine work, such as discovery and document review, get automated, what possibilities will this unlock for lawyers to focus on more intellectually challenging and meaningful work?


If you’re ready to continue exploring how to adapt in the face of uncertainty, register for our next virtual event, Recession-Ready: In-House Counsel’s Essential Role in Business Continuity, a panel discussion on April 30 with legal leaders from Google, Mastercard and L’Oreal. RSVP here.

More about Ironclad

Ironclad is the leading digital contracting platform for legal teams. By streamlining contract workflows, from creation and approvals to compliance and insights, Ironclad frees legal to be the strategic advisors they’re meant to be. Ironclad is used by modern General Counsels and their teams at companies like Dropbox, AppDynamics and Fitbit to unlock the power of their contracts data. Ironclad was named one of the 20 Rising Stars as part of the Forbes 2019 Cloud 100 list, the definitive list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world. The company is backed by investors like Accel, Sequoia, Y Combinator and Emergence Capital. To learn more, visit our homepage.

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