Legalweek 2022 was recently held as an in-person event in New York hosted by ALM. It brought together legal professionals from around the globe who sought new data on business and regulatory trends, the latest technology advances and, most importantly, a chance to network face-to-face.
The four-day event featured many kinds of learning opportunities, TED-style talks, and the industry’s who’s who of exhibitors. This year’s program featured sessions on the future of law, robotic process automation, ediscovery trends, and contract management, all while offering deep dives into the latest in legal technology.
For TRU Staffing Partners, the event was an opportunity to connect with current customers in the ediscovery arena and meet some new industry pros. We were out in force at the conference and found three key takeaways from the event:
Experts Are Needed, Order Takers Need Not Apply
Law firms and corporations are looking to legal services vendors to provide in-depth expertise to augment knowledge of lower-level or over-worked in-house personnel. Organizations are leaning on their vendors instead of hiring high-value expertise themselves. They are taking a firm stance on whom they will work with, insisting that most of the high-level knowledge and advice they need comes from external ediscovery and managed services providers on an as-needed basis. It’s less expensive for them in the long run. These vendors will need to become more than order takers who fill out paperwork; they must go beyond the scope of their normal work and extend high-level services to keep their clients happy.
Legaltech Is No Longer a Job Fair
The conference used to be nicknamed “the industry’s biggest job fair” but this is no longer the case. The event had significantly less attendance and foot traffic from Industry talent from within the 7 -10 years’ experience range. The majority of those attending were either selling or buying services. Attendees there were generally part of companywide initiatives to attend, like for retreats or annual events, or they were locals just stopping by. It felt like people are still affected by COVID-19 with New York being indicative of the national trend to work from home. The exhibit area was very ediscovery heavy with many more tertiary vendors joining the mix this year, especially with the addition of contract management vendors.
Where the Ediscovery Jobs Are
It is evident that software companies have the highest open headcount. They are growing and creating jobs in extraordinary numbers. In second place are vendors and in third place law firms, with rare opportunities visible for In-house counsel unless candidates are privacy or security focused.
Software companies are gaining more momentum from private equity venture capital backing and are selling more goods and services compared to the growth of the vendors in the same amount of time.
Vendors are still growing now, but are scaling through acquisitions or buyouts. In terms of software, the new “normal” is to become tool agnostic, not favoring one over another but using any software tools that will get the job done. People are buying more software licenses for more diverse tool portfolios in ediscovery. They want lots of tools and options and will spend on whatever works. The future of ediscovery software lies in who can get the most data into a software platform and be able to house everything in the cloud.
Law firms have the lowest hiring rates because they are losing people and can’t replace them. These firms are enforcing vaccination mandates and return to office mandates, and as a result, they are not able to fill their positions as quickly as other businesses who let people work anywhere. The burden of work just keeps piling up on law firm employees and their candidate pools are smaller because people need to live near their offices. Firms are overcompensating middle market and mid-level project managers for the workload and the requirements they face, then turn to vendors to get the higher-level expertise they need occasionally.
FACT: 77% of TRU placements in 2021 were virtual or work-from-home roles.