Why Professional Specialization Requires Digital Origination

When talking about the future of work, artificial intelligence, cobotics and big data play a vital role. The fact that job profiles change and new ones occur, is due to however, a development which has been continuing for decades and now leads to significants shifts in conjunction with digital solutions: the professional specialization. This requires new forms of origination to connect increasing specialized offer and fine-chased demand in a precise manner.

Specialization — a phenomenon which starts in education and stretches practically through all occupations. A clear example of it is business law with its technical fine ramifications: the range reaches from a tax lawyer for transfer prices over experts for insolvency impugnment and drug advertising law up to a cyber security lawyer. However, in the meantime — also with look at industries, there are lawyers who specialize, for example on automotives, logistics or pharmaceutical industries. Besides the big full-service law firms, there are overall highly specialized law boutiques with a handful of lawyers who provide — mostly as spin-off from big law — increasing fragmenting and considerable competitive pressure.

If David catches up with Goliath by digitization

That’s the reason why small, specialized units can be less expensive due to low and adaptable cost structure than large law firms and still achieve more reasonable margins.

At the same time, digitization of legal services (“LegalTech”) makes it possible that also complex contracts, for instance, for M&A transactions meanwhile can be drafted within a few minutes thanks to document automation. Moreover, the analysis of contracts is completed by self-learning and deep-learning systems. Thereby small commercial law firms are able more and more to take prestigious mandates from top dogs.

Expert search like a needle in a haystack

At first glance, this sounds like perfect conditions for the client side but in fact it often turns out to be a challenge: We have learned from numerous conversations with legal advisors and executives that searching and finding suitable business lawyers proves to be increasingly difficult in light of increasing diversification and at the same time more fine-chased demand.

Just one practical example: because of the general data protection regulation of the European Union, currently the question arises for company archives how to handle personal data from historical files. Recently, a German DAX group could have asked a large law firm directly, however, it wanted explicitly a data protection expert with proven expertise in archive law. Such candidates are scarce also in full-service law firms because this type of business is comparatively small and less lucrative than corporate transactions. In the end, the company found a boutique law firm in Munich with three lawyers and an expert for exactly this subject based on a selection process coordinated by Digitorney. That example shows that the strong diversification of legal questions in niche areas, an increasingly fragmented legal advisory market and the need for an unbiased selection of consultants due to compliance rules requires new ways in the search for suitable experts.

Precise search for experts by digital solutions

Digital-supported searching services in combination with a written structure of the circumstances and the problem definition are trendsetting services because they bring supplier and demander precisely together — an approach which might gain in importance beyond legal advice in future. In light of extensive price and quality transparency as well as ubiquitously available expert information, the great importance of the choice according to the situation in this subject, financially and also humanely suitable experts with the desired seniority level also increases in areas like IT, finances or marketing / communication.

Due to the evolving trend towards specialization in different professional areas, experts in niche areas will be factually forced to generate new business via digital channels and networks. To work out unique selling propositions so filigree that experts can be found digital supported, consequently becomes a key factor.

Gig Economy on the rise — compulsion to digital origination

Everyone who thinks that these developments concern only a small group of employees, should take into consideration the trend towards the so called “Gig Economy”. In the United States, already 20 to 30 percent of the population work as freelancers and accept short-term orders from companies. In the coming years this type of professional work is likely to evolve across industries dynamically on a global scale. In light of the ongoing specialization and worldwide availability of brainworkers by way of digital collaboration, this will give rise to the question to many experts of how to generate new business. That’s why there’s no way around digital origination channels.

Dr. Ruediger Theiselmann is a lawyer and CEO of Digitorney Group. A digital B2B market place for business law, Digitorney searches suitable lawyers in all areas of the business law on behalf of companies in a digital manner. Additionally, Digitorney prepares written case summaries so that the expert can jump right into the case efficiently. Furthermore, legal tech solutions (e.g. document automation, digital whistleblowing tool, workflow tool) are made available.