40 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM THE BACK PAGE A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO TALENT MANAGEMENT IN THE AGE OF AI BY TOM SNAVELY In the ever-evolving landscape of the legal profession, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), and more specifically generative AI (Gen AI), stands as a significant catalyst for change within the profession. However, it’s crucial that law firms’ chief talent officers (CTOs) and other members of the C-suite navigate these changes with a focus on nurturing the well-being of their firms’ legal professionals. While some view AI as a potential enhancer of employee engagement, others express concerns about its negative effects. That’s why it’s imperative for law firm leaders to seize the opportunities these new technologies bring while also addressing concerns head-on. Thomson Reuters’ recent Future of Professionals report offers guidance for the development of strategies initiatives firms could undertake, based on this research and additional insight from interviews with CTOs, as the firm leaders focus their discussions on talent management challenges in the new Gen AI frontier. There are several steps that CTOs and law firm leaders can take to help successfully guide their firms through initial interaction with these new technologies, such as: Embracing Gen AI to promote value: Emphasise the intrinsic value legal professionals bring to their clients and encourage a culture that celebrates accomplishments and purpose, while at the same time mitigating fears associated with AI. For example, leaders could point out how using Gen AI may ultimately free up legal professionals’ time to spend on the higher-level work they enjoy. Also, in those early days, develop policies and systems for fail-safe technology use that avoids the feared inaccuracies that Gen AI contains, helping to reduce the risk of human error that many legal professionals constantly fear. Addressing financial and job security concerns: Acknowledge and proactively communicate the firm’s commitment to job security amid AI and Gen AI integration. More transparency in this regard can alleviate the anxieties surrounding the impact on uncertain job roles. Supporting work-life balance with AI: Ease concerns by pointing out that leveraging AI not only can enhance productivity but also facilitate a transition towards shorter working hours. Follow that up with the implementation of training programs to smooth the learning curve associated with new technologies. Empowering employees through change: Recognise some employees will exhibit discomfort with change, especially early on, and actively involve firms’ legal professionals in the adaptation process. Communication, clarity, and a sense of ownership can transform uncertainty into a purposeful journey. Given the impact of these technologies, the legal profession finds itself at a crossroads, which presents a pivotal opportunity for leaders to steer their teams towards resilience. By addressing these well-being concerns proactively, firms will be able to not only enhance the professional lives of their team member but also ensure the longevity and success of the firm in the AI-driven legal landscape. As AI use evolves and disrupts every stage of the talent journey, strategic leadership is critical in reshaping talent models and training strategies. Law firm leaderships’ guidance is essential in navigating this transformation. Revolutionising entry into the legal profession Law firm leaderships’ guidance is essential in navigating this transformation. Again, there are a few key steps that should be taken to make this journey smoother, including: Expanding skillsets beyond technical competence: Collaborate with educational institutions to ensure legal professionals are equipped with not only technical skills but also with critical thinking and advisory skills. The evolving role of lawyers demands a broader skill set that extends beyond traditional legal knowledge and acumen. Providing ethics education: Incorporate education on the ethical considerations surrounding AI usage. Equip future legal professionals with the knowledge and principles necessary to navigate the ethical dimensions of AI in the legal arena. Embracing non-traditional qualifications: Anticipate a shift in hiring criteria as new roles become necessary. Prepare for those professionals who may be entering the legal field without traditional qualifications by reassessing firms’ hiring practices and emphasising the importance of skills and adaptability. Adapting training for junior lawyers: Redefine training programs to balance foundational legal knowledge with hands-on experience for firms’ more junior attorneys. Recognise the potential for accelerated skill development as these younger lawyers focus on more challenging tasks with AI assistance. Offering continuous skill development for all: AI demands ongoing skill development for all legal professionals, so it is critical to establish comprehensive training programs that cover both technology skills and the broader expertise required in the evolving legal landscape. Tom Snavely is a principal consultant in the Thomson Reuters Advisory Group. A version of this piece was originally published by the Thomson Reuters Institute. Reprinted with permission. 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