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Supreme Court Justice Fabian Gleeson has told an assembly of young lawyers they need to be “agile” and “resilient” if they are to adapt to new opportunities presented by modern legal careers.

Gleeson explored the challenges that technology and automation pose to the legal profession in an address to more than 50 young legal eagles at the 2018 State of the Profession Address. NSW Young Lawyers hosted the event on 13 September at the Law Society of NSW, with the annual event a highlight on the NSW Young Lawyers calendar. Gleeson predicted that in 10 to 15 years’ time many lawyers in the audience would be performing non-traditional, “hybrid” lawyer jobs such as legal knowledge engineer, legal technologist, legal process analyst, legal project manager, scientist, researcher and developer, or risk manager.

“Some of you will have new role titles in law firms and elsewhere, including some in alternative business structures,” said Gleeson.
“Some of you will have lost your traditional areas of practice to the disruption of new technologies, including automation, which is likely to impact standardised and commoditised legal work.”

The judge emphasised the importance of resilience and agility in this rapidly changing environment – emotional skills which were fitting to highlight as he spoke on the national mental health awareness day known as R U OK? Day.

“That today is ‘R U OK? Day’ is a reminder that we have a collective responsibility to express, in a meaningful way, care for the wellbeing of others with whom we work and interact,” said Gleeson. “By way of conclusion, I would like to emphasise my earlier remarks drawing attention to the importance of young lawyers building resilience in the practice of law and remaining agile to the opportunities and challenges presented by new technological changes.”