Hamilton Locke Partner Nick Edwards Discusses the Development of Next Generation Lawyers Amid Changing Work Arrangements

Hamilton Locke Partner Nick Edwards was recently featured in Lawyers Weekly to share his insights and opinions about the professional development of next generation lawyers in light of the changes in working arrangements over the past few years.

Nick came together alongside leading Australian legal professionals to discuss their thoughts towards the growth and learning opportunities of junior lawyers, given the mainstreaming of WFH arrangements.

The article, amongst other things, highlights the optimism about the capacity of junior lawyers to become future leaders, noting their enthusiasm and adaptability as essential qualities in an ever-changing legal profession. It stresses that both law firms and individual lawyers have a role to play in fostering professional development and providing opportunities for growth.

Nick spoke to Lawyers Weekly about his thoughts about the next generation of leaders and commented:

“Ensuring we provide the best environment for junior lawyers and staff to thrive, find their voice and pursue their career is incumbent on partners and leaders of law firms…

There was clearly concern among many, including myself, about how COVID-19, lockdowns and the aftermath could stunt the professional development of lawyers. However, I am not sure this played out as badly as people feared, especially given the active engagement the industry took to address it.

This is not to say it is perfect, but I do think as an industry we sought to embrace the challenge and change for the better.

I think the concern for partners now is how to get the balance right, how to accommodate the individual to the best degree possible within the confines of the role and how to ensure that, at the end of the day, junior lawyers are becoming better lawyers.”

He also spoke about the shifts in the conversation around remote working and noted:

“This has been led in part by some of the banks, but is now filtering through law firms, companies and other professional services firms. Any conversation on flexibility or the fabled ‘work/life balance’ must appreciate that it is indeed a balance – that sometimes work should take precedence over personal priorities and vice versa.

But, in saying that, it should be a conversation, and include consideration of the needs of the individual, the team and the client when coming to a landing.”

Nick also shared his insights on the importance of striking a balance between flexible work arrangements and time in the office to support the development of junior lawyers and said:

“I am still of the view that as lawyers we need to be working closely with our colleagues so we can learn, cross-pollinate ideas, and foster meaningful relationships. Many of the soft skills required to be a lawyer and indeed a leader are difficult (if not impossible) to acquire remotely. The ability to interact with new clients, read a room and engage with different audiences are key skills for all lawyers…

Junior lawyers should be hungry and keen to get stuck in – it is our job as leaders to provide them the opportunities and environment to do that, but ultimately it is the individual’s responsibility to drive their career.

This is clearly still the case as I look around our office with more people in more frequently, and it is great to see the banter coming back.”

Read the full article here.

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