‘Lawyers of the future’ offered professional training online by ThoughtRiver and F-LEX
• Out-of-work trainee lawyers offered course of educational webinars
• Partnership helps legal students affected by Covid-19 pandemic build skills
London, UK. 12th May 2020. The next generation of lawyers, which has seen careers and training disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, is now being offered professional training through a series of virtual webinars, thanks to a new partnership between automated contract review leader ThoughtRiver, and paralegal platform F-LEX.
The training, which takes the form of instruction in the use of ‘Lexible’, the legal AI software which underpins ThoughtRiver’s platform, is being offered to members of the F-LEX network who have seen professional opportunities dry up in the face of the current pandemic’s effect on the legal industry. Many law firms are seeking to furlough staff or place them on reduced hours, and this disproportionately affects non-permanent members of staff such as paralegals. Training courses for students have been similarly disrupted, and the professional experience opportunities traditionally on offer are removed as firms shut their physical doors.
In a spot survey of 50 course attendees, ThoughtRiver found that 100% of trainee lawyers had experienced at least one of the following: furloughing; seeing a job offer retracted; loss of academic hours; or foreseeing ‘no vacancies’ in the job market. However, with signs emerging that the UK government is putting plans in place to begin lifting working restrictions, both groups are keen to ensure they are able to ‘hit the ground running’ in the coming weeks and months.
Three in four trainees felt they had been treated well by employers or educators during the pandemic. Employers fared slightly worse in perceptions than education providers; 24% felt poorly supported by a company compared to 21% by an educational establishment.
F-LEX, a previous winner of the LexisNexis Legal Award for ‘Legal Supplier Innovation’ which connects law firms with paralegals and students, is offering all its members the chance to attend a ThoughtRiver training course. ThoughtRiver, the legal tech start-up, already works with global brands like PwC, Avis Budget Group, G4S, DB Shenker and other large corporates and law firms. Its AI-powered software lets companies process legal material in a fraction of the time it would take a human team, driving deal velocity for the business and freeing up their lawyers’ time to focus on more value-adding activity.
The training, which is hoped to better qualify students and paralegals alike when the legal job market begins to return to normal, is passing on unique skills in the role of AI within the sector. Of those surveyed, 80% were confident that AI would have a ‘significant disruptive effect’ on the industry in the next few years, ‘helping lawyers cut admin time and focus on value-adding tasks’.
Emma McDowell, head of client services at F-LEX, commented: “We know that this is an uncertain time for many aspiring lawyers and so we were delighted to collaborate with ThoughtRiver in order to provide a valuable learning opportunity for them. We are passionate about encouraging law students to keep up with the changes in legal technology and it was great to work with another company who shares our mission and values.”
Tim Pullan, CEO of ThoughtRiver, commented: “Given the digital disruption that took place as a result of the global financial crisis back in 2008, training the lawyers of tomorrow on the technology they will undoubtedly be using in the future seems appropriate during this crisis. This partnership is our way of helping the industry prepare for the future – we aim to equip students with pro bono best practice legal and technology knowledge to ensure they hit the ground running when the crisis is over.”