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To be or not to be a lawyer

View profile for Paul Fox

There is no doubt that to be a lawyer is to have a satisfactory answer to that most dreaded of dinner party questions: “So what do you do?” One imagines that bankers and traffic wardens may shrink from responding, feverishly trying to come up with a career that won’t earn a bread roll deftly tossed in their general direction, but the lawyer is likely to be unabashed. It is a profession that brings with it considerable cachet, as evidenced by the constant presence in the TV schedules of dramas portraying barristers and judges embroiled in the most thrilling cases whilst sporting exquisitely tailored wardrobes.

Yet those of us who mutter darkly that the reality does not quite match the gloss and glamour of The Good Wife may be unsurprised by a recent survey indicating that 4 in 10 lawyers would not recommend a career in law.

To be sure, their sample size of 103 is not an especially rigorous, and it may be that respondents were caught on a particularly bad day, but nonetheless it’s a sobering read. Could it really be that 40% of the legal profession is standing on the battlements of their own personal Elsinore pondering “To be or not to be a lawyer?”

At Legastat, we are by nature optimists, and wonder whether a happier future in law can be secured at least in part by choosing to make the most of legal tech. The burden of training and education can be eased by the use of online training packages and e-learning; trials and case preparation can be made swifter and more efficient by the use of digital bundles and eDisclosure. Many of the most stressful elements of daily legal practice can be eased by all that 21st century IT has to offer  - if lawyers are willing to work alongside litigation support professionals to develop a truly innovative practice.

Every profession is beset by its particular troubles, and the sorrows of the lawyer have come lately not in single spies, but in whole battalions. But those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune can be opposed not by despair (or for example by stabbing kindly old man in the arras) but by taking up arms with all the tools at our disposal.

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