Legal Industry Outlook for 2021: Trends to Watch |

Legal Industry Outlook for 2021: Trends to Watch


Print/Download PDF

Font Size

Rate this article

303 Reviews Average: 4.4 out of 5

Many people find the legal industry extremely appealing. Law also impacts many people in a highly direct manner. From marriage to employment and beyond, people need lawyers at every stage of their lives. In many areas of law and the way it is practiced, these legal industry trends are expected to have an impact. Baby boomers retiring, new legal technology, and global expansion will continue to play a significant role in the lives of lawyers and their many clients. This industry is always changing.

Demographic shifts, client expectations, technology, and work styles have all contributed to a host of distinct trends in the legal industry. To become more efficient, productive, and competitive in the coming year, firms need to understand and leverage these trends. The following are the top trends that will influence the legal profession in 2021 and for the next several years.

Baby Boomer Impact

All generations continue to be dominated by the baby boomers. Due to the high number of retirees, this process will affect all areas of the country and the workforce. This is also true in the legal industry. The 75 million members of this cohort will have a massive impact on the legal industry as well. Attorneys can expect an increase in demand for services in areas of the law, such as retirement planning and transferring assets to the next generation. The demand for legal fields can also increase. Despite where they live or what they do as they age, children want to protect their parents. If you need help navigating nursing homes, a lawyer can assist you. Keeping grandparent's assets intact can also help as they age.

Electronic Discovery

There can be a great deal of complexity in legal procedures. There is no wonder that efforts are being made to streamline this process. All areas of the law have been affected by new technology this year, and it will continue to do so. This includes the field of discovery law. Both sides look for relevant items that pertain to a case during this process. Complexity can make this a time-consuming and effort-consuming process. Using e-discovery technology, each party to a legal case has access to the kind of technical support they need to make the process easier and less stressful. Currently, it is a two-billion-dollar industry. This year and in the future, revenues are expected to increase.

Global Legal Markets

There is more to the legal field than just locality. Additionally, the industry is growing throughout the world. As lawyers consider which areas of law are most important, globalization will likely impact several decisions they make. Global legal services markets are expected to reach over 5.7 billion in the next few years. The fact that law firms are looking for ways to expand directly into this area is not surprising given how big this section of the market remains. Also, the company is exploring how overseas investors can take advantage of the United States' global legal field. Law firms and market development will be driven by such legal interactions in the future.

Increased Demand

Legal service providers are one of the most important industries in the world. Legal services will continue to be in demand by those who follow the industry very closely. This trend is expected to continue to grow with a previous year’s industry growth level exceeding one percent. Many different ways exist and will be available to meet this increased demand. It is important to be aware of what kind of prospects are available for those who are starting in this field for the first time. All new entrants into the legal field should also be aware of which areas of law are likely to see growth before they decide to make this field their own. In the future, many law areas are likely to experience growth.

Legal Process Outsourcing

Lawyers everywhere hope to streamline the legal process and ensure all lawyers can perform their duties effectively. Several types of effective assistance exist. An increasing number of firms are using a process known as legal process outsourcing in the new year. By dividing up the law, we will be able to reduce all kinds of related expenses to the maximum extent possible. Many areas of law can be less expensive with the use of this type of legal assistance. Experts anticipate that this industry will earn over $35 billion in revenues by 2025. In the eyes of many insiders in the legal industry, this has created a new world of opportunity for those who can take advantage of it and fill the labor shortage that American and foreign lawyers face every day.

Limits on Billable Hours

For lawyers to earn the top salary, 1949 hours are typically billed annually. Lawyers may find it difficult to balance both work and personal concerns during these long work hours. They may have difficulty concentrating on legal tasks at work because of this. To remedy this issue, changes are being made. It is the goal of judicial bodies to make the process of practicing law less stressful, even for new associates. Limiting the number of hours an associate can bill in a year is one proposal that is seriously being considered. Some of the country's biggest firms expect this process to affect their associates. Moreover, it should have a significant impact on the way smaller law firms conduct business.

Mergers and Acquisition

Many factors influence business law. A merger or acquisition can harm a company. To conduct this type of business correctly, it requires a great deal of legal attention. Nearly five billion are expected to be generated as it has in the past. Law firms all over the world will be able to take advantage of these stats with innovative solutions that all firms need while making sure the process is followed according to local laws. When it comes to the area of business law, law firms that specialize in it have the potential for a lot of growth. For many traditional law firms across the United States and beyond, business law is likely to become a growing field.

See Also:

Big Law Firms Take a New Direction

Some of the country's largest traditional law firms are searching for new ways to help their clients in all sorts of ways. Big law firms do more than just practice law. Firms such as these also assist other firms and law firms. On the other hand, large law firms are often regarded as being costly. By joining the eleven billion dollar industry called new law, they hope to combat this image. Having access to contract lawyers is also a part of this process. Thus, firms such as these will be able to respond to current challenges in the legal industry with greater flexibility. They will continue to be successful fiscally if they are responsive to their customers.

Paralegal Jobs

An attorney's paralegal helps him do his job more effectively. There are many reasons why people pursue this career. For some, this is a way to discover if they are good at what they do. Several people are trying to make some extra money while caring for a family member or engaged in other activities. Legal ventures will need the kind of support they need to succeed in new markets, as lawyers expand into new markets. It is a welcome profession that offers a supportive hand to those who want to pursue it. This profession is expected to grow at a faster rate than average in the U.S. For those interested in entering the field this might be a good choice.


Many workers are trying to find a balance between work and their personal lives. It is important to them not only to make a living but also to contribute to the larger community. This is also true for the legal profession. People from the legal profession are finding it possible to pick and choose the jobs they are most interested in because of the monthly job growth that exceeds 188,000 in the United States. In addition, a part-time job in the legal field is proving to be a good choice for them. Part-time employment allows people to earn money to pay their bills at the same time they pay off any law school debt they may have; it also allows law firms to have additional staff on hand all year round.


Not so long ago, law firms of all sizes marketed their services as expansive and optimal for every single client, regardless of their unique needs. For the most part, law firms have reversed course, offering highly specialized services instead of a broad range.  As demand for highly specialized legal services increases, this will largely be due to law firms focusing on providing wide-ranging services rather than specializing in one legal niche.  

Clients are looking for a law firm that does exactly what they need.  Specialty firms will stand out from the rest and become leaders in those particular legal fields.  There is a possibility that the metaphorical pendulum will swing back in the other direction, prompting some firms to return to deliver legal services in a more diverse range of legal practice areas, but it will take several years or even decades for such a shift to occur.

See Also The 2021 State of the Legal Market Report

Five Trends to Shape Legal Practices in 2021


1. New Talent & Hiring Strategies

New talent strategies are being adopted by law firms due to the pace of technology, shifts in workforce demographics, and the need to maximize client value. Non-lawyer staffing is no longer limited to paralegals, IT, and administration. At the highest levels of large firms, non-lawyers are being employed as CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs, and smaller firms are outsourcing C-suite services.

As a result, new high-skilled roles are emerging in the litigation support industry. Those performing repetitive tasks are being replaced by artificial intelligence, whereas legal professionals are undergoing role reshuffling.

In addition, the gig economy has given rise to a distributed labor force. In addition to the existing workforce, temporary, contract, and freelance jobs allow workers to work from home and employers to quickly scale up or down. In the legal field, virtual assistants and remote working employees are becoming increasingly common as law firms move client-facing and back-office functions to the cloud. By 2021 and beyond, these market changes will result in a new law firm workforce structure.

See Also: BCG Jobs: Browse Attorney Jobs

2. Increased Focus on the Client Experience

Since clients' expectations have grown, a turning point may arrive in 2021 when they begin to demand change. Firms are stepping up their game to boost client service in various ways, from tailored pricing models to more emphasis on the "client experience."

Firms are responding by reducing costs, adding value, and adopting a more client-centric approach to law. In order to offer comprehensive solutions to their clients, they have partnered with other service providers. A multitude of tools is being used by firms to enhance efficiency and improve client services, including chatbots, online intake forms, and payment portals.

By improving client service, lawyers also increase value to the client. The legal process management (LPM) process is being implemented and systematic workflows are being developed to improve efficiencies. Additionally, firms are experimenting with alternative fees arrangements and value-added services, and they are reporting their costs more clearly. Firms that prioritize improving client experience will succeed in 2021.

3. Emerging Technologies

Law practice is undergoing a huge shift as a result of technology. According to Gartner, 85% of customer interactions will be handled without human intervention by the end of 2020. Client service is being revolutionized by bots, while internet research is being transformed by voice search. Artificial intelligence is performing an increasing number of legal tasks, such as document review, billing and litigation support, contract drafting, due diligence, and even jury selection. Virtual and augmented reality are becoming increasingly popular tools for lawyers to use in the courtroom, to train new lawyers, and to collaborate with clients and experts. Cybersecurity, data privacy, and digital will also continue to play a crucial role in 2021.

The technology also allows non-lawyers to offer public services previously provided only by lawyers. Continuing disaggregation of legal services will continue in the industry. Technology will be the key to accelerating the efficiency of law firms, reducing costs, and decreasing risks in 2021.

See Also Remote Work Works—Where Do We Go from Here?

4.  Micro-Niches

Many law firms market themselves as offering everything to everyone in recent years. Clients, however, seem to prefer tailored services. In addition, certain industries are experiencing increasing complexities, which require highly specialized legal expertise. Due to this, 2021 will likely see the emergence of microniches and an increase in specialized legal services.

By targeting specific clients and needs, firms can appeal to micro-niches. Firms can provide tailored services that add real value to their client's business if they have a deep understanding of their industry, goals, and pain points.

Become the go-to law firm in your area by taking advantage of this trend. Setting yourself apart by focusing your marketing, identifying niche-specific clients, and becoming a thought leader in your specific area of practice is also one-way lawyers can set themselves apart from a broader market.

5.  Broader Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality

While diversity programs have traditionally been the domain of large law firms looking to recruit the best candidates, today companies of all sizes are becoming more aware of the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equality. Even small and midsize law firms are committed to diversity and inclusion. The level of participation and commitment to programs such as Mansfield Rule Certification is likely to increase in 2021.

In the legal industry, the #MeToo movement has also raised awareness of equality as a business issue. Law firms will reevaluate their gender equality policies by 2021, train employees, and evangelize diversity and inclusiveness to prospects and hired personnel thanks to the #MeToo dialogue. Women may also be promoted to higher positions within law firms.

Law in the Future

By 2021, we can expect significant changes in legal practice due to marketing, technology, innovation, and a market-focused approach. The legal landscape is changing rapidly, and lawyers should redesign how they deliver them in the coming years to ensure the sustainability and profitability of their practices.

See the following articles:

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

AGREE/DISAGREE? SHARE COMMENTS ANONYMOUSLY! We Want to Hear Your Thoughts! Tell Us What You Think!!

Related Articles

We've changed thousands of lives over the past 20 years, and yours could be next.

When you use BCG Attorney Search you will get an unfair advantage because you will use the best legal placement company in the world for finding permanent law firm positions.