The ILTACON 2015 session “Careers in Legal Technology – The Numbers, The Buzz, The Shift” focused on the subject of careers, job security, skills and capacities, and future trends for the legal industry. The panel shared insights and offered their opinions on technology talent in law firms and the legal industry.

When the panel was asked what the hottest role to hire was right now, they responded that in the eDiscovery space, TAR (Technology Assisted Review) professionals are in demand, and in other markets SharePoint professionals are extraordinarily hard to find and retain. In coaching the audience, however, the panel cautioned that interpersonal skills are most important when interviewing and fitting a person to a position. Pre-interview testing is being used more regularly to verify skills before the interview even happens. This narrows the applicant pool drastically and helps the hiring firm find the right individual more quickly.

Is having a JD important for legal technologists?

The audience was presented with a poll: does having a JD give someone with a technical background an edge? Fifty eight percent of respondents thought that it did. The panel commented that technical team members with a JD can serve as excellent liaisons between the attorneys and the technical staff. The most common scenario is that an attorney takes an interest in technology and takes a role on the technical team rather than the other way around. In other words, technologists usually don’t quit their jobs to go get a JD.

What can employers do to attract and retain talent?

Individuals with technical skills are in high demand right now and the legal market is no exception. Money, career growth and a strong firm culture can help attract and retain talent. Robert Wickstrom from Paul Hastings commented that a law firm’s technology also can help attract talent – in that having more powerful tools at a technologists disposal can inspire them to join you to build future technology and solve modern problems in a meaningful and effective way.

What can a candidate do to set themselves apart?

According to the panel, the best thing that a legal technologist can do to further themselves in their career is to never stop learning. There are more free educational resources available now than ever before in history. Legal technology is constantly changing and applicants with up-to-date skillsets are more likely to land a job. It’s important for both employers and employees to stay sharp on technology, and the firms that understand this are going to attract the best talent.

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