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Despite being a typically slow-moving profession steeped in history, the legal world has changed significantly in the 8 years I’ve been recruiting. Even major international law firms, operating on the most sophisticated cases for the most exacting of clients, are embracing change in numerous ways. Those we hear repeatedly spoken about are briefly explored below.

Open-plan offices
A workplace feature highly familiar to those in the recruitment industry, these are still something of a novelty in the legal profession, with lawyers nearly always beginning a call with “let me just step outside, I’m in an open-plan office you see”. As this trend continues, and shows no sign of abating, perhaps this conversation opener will become redundant when open-plan becomes the norm.

No longer limited to a single sentence buried deep in an offer letter stating, “gym membership”, law firms are increasingly creative and forthcoming with health & wellbeing initiatives.  Across Asian offices of international law firms, we’ve seen the rollout of standing desks, yoga teachers visiting for evening classes, and health-focused interior design including plants selected to filter the air and lightbulbs chosen to optimally reduce eye-strain.

Keeping it casual
Long known as one of the best-suited professions, more law firms are embracing a casual dress policy in the office, ranging from omitting ties, though to a complete changing of the dress code toward a ‘smart-casual’ style. The opportunity to work from home furthers the trend toward casual dressing, to possibly include pyjamas if you can guarantee a lack of video-conference calls in the day!

Lawyers on demand
​Perhaps the most innovative change taking place in law firms involves rarely working within them. As alternative fee structures and greater flexibility are requested by clients, and more individuals seek to move away from the long hours, static culture of office work, the notion of being a freelance or project-based lawyer has come to the fore, alongside a broader so-called ‘gig economy’. Numerous firms are opening separate arms to provide lawyers on a contract or project basis, giving people the chance to tailor their working hours like never before.

What developments have you seen take place in the legal industry, and what would you like to see take place?

To discuss the unique aspects of practising law overseas, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, or to explore specific opportunities, we’d be glad to hear from you – / +44 161 870 6776