7 November 2017: debate with Humberto Tan about ‘The Lawyer of the Future’

7 November 2017

Join us today at the debate on 'The Lawyer of the Future’, led by Humberto Tan, at 03.00 p.m! A panel of six lawyers will engage in debate with each other and the audience about the hot topics important for all future lawyers: soft skills, digitisation, diversity and internationalisation. A limited number of places are available; please register via rechteninbeweging-fdr@uva.nl.

How do you create a safe working environment for individuals from minority groups? Could a lawyer be replaced by a computer? Will the lawyer of the future be expected to be fluent in multiple languages? These and other questions will be covered in the debate on 'The Lawyer of the Future' on Tuesday 7 November 2017. The themes to be discussed in the debate are internationalisation, digitisation, diversity and soft skills. A brief introduction of the themes and possible questions follow below.

Soft Skills

The 21st century lawyer must adopt a far more human approach than has been customary to date. Legal knowledge alone is not enough; knowledge of sociology, politicology and economics is important too, as well as academic skills like analysis, reasoning and interpretation. Increased attention for ethics is likewise evident in the legal profession.

Do lawyers need in-depth knowledge of a number of disciples to be able to do their work well? Which disciplines? Which added value can be derived from some level of economic, sociological and/or psychological knowledge? Should knowledge about conflict management and soft skills become more prevalent in the university degree programme? Or are these things that you only learn in practice? Or should they be embedded in the law degree programme?

Digitisation

There have been calls for the entire legal sector to formulate a shared vision on technological developments. Activities that are usually carried out in exactly the same way are eligible for ‘commoditisation’. This is already the case for bank guarantees, for example. The use of so-called ‘big data’ gives rise to questions about safety and privacy as well.

Which activities in the legal sector will be taken over by computer systems? What added value does a lawyer provide? What are computers unable to do? Which particular skills will lawyers be expected to have with increased digitisation in mind?

Diversity

Diversity is a hot topic in the legal system in general and in the legal profession in particular. A non-Western background is evident in just 6% of law students and a mere 2% to 3% of lawyers employed by larger firms. The emancipation of women is a subject that requires attention too. Although the percentage of women employed in the legal system is improving, fewer women are in senior positions. Added to this, 44% of pregnant women are at a disadvantage when applying for positions and seeking promotion or the renewal of their contracts.

How do you create a safe working environment for individuals from minority groups? And for women? How important is it for the standing of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service/legal system for the composition of prosecutors to be more diverse? Is diversity management necessary or should we 'just' be patient?

Internationalisation 

Internationalisation has been a fixture on lists setting out developments in legislation for years now. The Dutch Supreme Court had already observed the increasing impact of international and European law on Dutch civil, criminal and administrative law back in 2011. The Supreme Court points to EU law, but also to the great achievements made in the protection of human rights. Clearly, judges need a knowledge of more than just national legislation alone.

Which response should there be to the emphasis on national legislation from professional practice, translated into the requirements for granting admission to licensed professions? Do lawyers restrict themselves too much by assuming that the applicability of legislation stops at national borders? Also, how important a role does language play? Will the lawyer of the future be expected to be fluent in multiple languages?

Published by  Faculty of Law