How to seize opportunity in an uncertain world

Travers Smith lawyers on the importance of nimbleness, good judgement and confidence in engaging with technology

Four senior solicitors at one of London’s top independent law firms have delivered a blueprint on how to seize opportunity in an uncertain world that is being rocked by Brexit, President Trump and rapid technological developments.

Speaking at Legal Cheek’s latest careers event, ‘Global Commercial Law in 2017: What’s next for the world’s legal capital?’, the Travers Smith quartet highlighted in particular the virtues of the ‘best friend’ model used by three of the ten most profitable law firms in London.

Operating internationally out of London via a series of informal ties with fellow independent firms around the globe gives Travers a nimbleness that many of its competitors lack, said tax partner and graduate recruitment chief Emily Clark, adding:

Being independent and a relatively small group of partners you really feel that you own the business and can do what you like with your bit of the business. So if I think that I would really like to market my services to [a certain group of] people, I can wake up in the morning and do that — and that’s a fantastic feeling.

To flourish in such an environment requires, more than ever, the very human skills of good judgement and sophisticated analytical ability. Students and junior lawyers need to seek to develop these qualities while using the innate advantage they possess as digital natives to add value to their firms — and ultimately clients. Travers IP and technology associate Sonny Mallet explained:

The offering that we like to think of ourselves as giving is a very non-standard, non-commoditised offering. I think technology as it moves in the next five years will undoubtedly take up a lot of the slack in the very commoditised, standard offering… So I don’t think we should see technology as a threat, it can help us, it will change the way we work for the better.

Agreeing was Mallett’s senior colleague, corporate partner Jon Reddington, who forecast that junior lawyers’ “client facing skills are going to become much more important much earlier on”, as emphasis at the top of the legal market “shifted away from data gathering”.

Meanwhile, Reddington was confident about London’s status as Europe’s financial centre, noting the strength in depth of the UK’s capital in financial services, and a lack of enthusiasm among banks and multinationals for possible rival centres.

The positive mood was perhaps best summed up by Travers dispute resolution partner Caroline Edwards, who advised the audience not to dwell on uncertainty but instead embrace a period of “complexity and opportunity”. A short extract of this section of the discussion is below.

Check out our Snapchat story of the event — which includes pre-discussion drinks and a post-Q&A networking session with the speakers and Travers’ trainees.

Further reading

How to become an IP & technology lawyer [Legal Cheek Careers]

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