Legal profession casts an eye at an uncertain future

The Law Society of England and Wales has today unveiled the first wave of results from its Future Worlds 2050 project to coincide with the 2021 World Technology Law Conference.

The project was set up to enable raw, frank and honest discussions around what clients will need in the future and to think about the legal business models our members may adopt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant the profession has adapted quickly by looking to technology and adopting new ways of working to ensure the safety of their staff.

In just 12 months, novel legal needs around data capture, new technologies and intellectual property protection have given us a glimpse of some of the possible demands on our sector in the future.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “The legal profession is at a pivotal moment, as is the world in which we live. There are a plethora of forces shifting our collective experience and the business environment. If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s that the future can still catch you unawares.

“We first look at our findings for 2020 to 2030* and identify artificial intelligence (AI), hybrid working, green energy and climate change as possible themes the profession may focus on.

“New forms of green energy and climate change action could create opportunities for lawyers and their insurer clients, as they seek to find innovative solutions to the risks posed by extreme weather events.

“Legal input and advice will also be needed around ‘green funding’ – investors financing environmentally friendly companies – and there is likely to be a rise of climate litigation against corporations or governments.

“This project is a unique opportunity to look ahead at the challenges and opportunities that may face us in the next decade. Science fiction is already becoming a reality, so what can we look forward to in 10 years’ time? We intend to illuminate the path ahead for the profession, so the future may be a little less uncertain.”

Key findings

  • 85% of jobs for 2030 do not currently exist and 50% of people think that the roles and skills of the next 10–15 years are impossible to predict within their industry, while AI will be so trusted in decision-making that it will have a vote on the board
  • 97% of global growth will come from developing countries
  • AI will contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030
  • 80% of the world’s population (6.4 billion people in 2024) will have a digital identity

Notes to editors

The Future Worlds 2050 project is a mix of quantitative and qualitive research to build a plausible picture of the world in 2050.

The research began in February 2020 and ended in September 2020.

The study was conducted alongside legal sector research specialist, Acritas (part of Thomson Reuters), and divided into four distinct stages to help gradually build up our picture of potential Future Worlds.

*Our Future World project findings will be reported granularly to include perceptions of the world in 2020 to 2030, 2030 to 2040, and 2040 to 2050.

Read more about the Future Worlds 2050 project

Read the Future Worlds 2050 report

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

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