The term "redundancy" has become the most scary buzzword in the legal sector.
It was first introduced in the Fortune 100 in the late 1980s. That was the beginning of a Stalin-like purge of middle aged middle managers.
At Ashurst, the particular redundancy review (and there are bound to be many many many more in these downsizing times in the global legal industry) is focusing on 80 secretarial roles.
Given technology, of course, secretarial tasks can be easily automated or undertaken by the lawyers themselves. As artificial intelligence is more integrated into law firm operations, everything from mundane document review to strategic planning for a case can become a redundant human activity.
The playbook is to anticipate if how you earn your living will be perceived as redundant. That doesn't necessarily have to be reality. All that is relevant is the ruling by the bean counters that you no longer needed to carry out that function. The challenge then is to figure out spaces of non-redundancy - or, less glut. Those can be real or simply perceived as scarcity.
In his book "Zero to One," venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel hammers such a career fundamental. He observes that there is already a social network Facebook. So, no, you don't want to create the next Facebook. You need to come up with something that doesn't replicate that.
The human tragedy in all this is that the laid-off secretaries are unlikely to recycle themselves in comparable jobs. That labor niche is shrinking.
In order to make a good living they will have to connect the dots on what is marketable for a professional their age in 2018. Ageism is a global reality. The age at which bias in hiring, promotions, and terminations begins in becoming younger. In some industries the 35-year-old has become redundant.
Insight about connecting the dots can come from analyzing players who are involved in creating fresh space for themselves. Those include Bernie Sanders, dying John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Rupert Murdoch, and (at Abovethelaw.com) Kathryn Rubino. They make it their career business to "own" their territory.
Full Disclosure: In 1987, I was classified as redundant at a major food company in the US.
Contact Jane Genova firstname.lastname@example.org.