DWF Ventures managing director and head of development Jonathan Patterson talks to The Lawyer ahead of this year’s Business Leadership Summit, which focuses on the law firm of 2025.

Jonathan Patterson, DWF
Jonathan Patterson

Are there going to be fewer jobs in the legal market in 2025?

Personally I don’t think there will necessarily be fewer jobs in the legal market but I do think the jobs will be different. In 2025 you would expect to see services that are increasingly collaborative, borderless, online and data enabled.

That will require a more diverse labour market that goes well beyond the traditional lawyer roles we see today and with many new and hybrid legal roles that require technology, design and operational expertise needing to be created.

I can imagine administrative and process driven roles being replaced by technology based solutions but in that time frame I still think there will be a need for specialist legal and sector experienced advisers. I can also see the need for more vocational, science and engineering based skills training rather than just the traditional academic and technical legal routes we see now.

Will every 2025 lawyer know how to code?

No I don’t think so. I see a lot written about lawyers coding and in certain legal roles I can see that will be advantageous, but overall I think it is a bit of a red herring and don’t see it becoming a standard required of all lawyers. I don’t think lawyers need to be able to do everything themselves and other elements of the role such as advisory capability, emotional intelligence and technical knowledge will still be more useful.

I think you will no doubt see skilled people with coding expertise and legal knowledge working closely on the design, development and delivery of legal services but they won’t necessarily be legally qualified. Increasingly the trend for legal technology is to have an easy to use consumer style interface and many platforms and products are low or no code so don’t require heavy duty coding skills once they are built. I think it is more important for lawyers to have a good understanding of how technology can be used and configured to deliver solutions rather than being overly concerned about the coding that lies underneath it.

What technology do you anticipate will revolutionise the industry by 2025?

I don’t necessarily think it will be one technology that will revolutionise the industry by 2025. Although I do think the increased use and sophistication of data science could well have the biggest impact on how legal services are delivered. Beyond data I think technology that enables secure crowd sourcing and drives collaboration across borders will continue to provide new solutions in many areas of law.

Ultimately the combination of virtual assistants, artificial intelligence, smart contracts and potentially blockchain could also fundamentally disrupt basic contracting and many of the traditional work types that have been lucrative for large law firms in the past.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself 

I can grade diamonds

I live in Yorkshire

I regularly carry around a comic book pencil case and notebook

With agile working becoming the norm, which spot in the world would you most like to work from?

I recently attended the Lawyer’s annual GC Strategy Summit in Alicante. Arriving on an early flight with time to kill before it started I ended up working for the afternoon in the poolside lounge and I definitely think the nice weather, tapas and tranquil surroundings made me a lot more productive than I would be on a rainy day in our Manchester office so I think I would go for that.

Jonathan will be speaking at this year’s Business Leadership Summit on a panel discussion exploring how seismic the AI revolution really will be. For more information on the summit, a copy of the agenda, or to enquire about tickets to attend, please contact Kenan Balli on +44(0) 20 7970 4017 or kenan.balli@centaurmedia.com