An expansive survey of mid-size law firms by Legal Practice Management Systems (PMS) provider PracticeEvolve found that post-COVID-19, the top priority for firms in Australia will be to improve efficiencies in the delivery of legal services. This includes regular review of work processes, greater use and investment of technology, formal knowledge management programs, and rewarding efficiency and profitability.
The survey also found that most of those working remotely rated the experience from good to excellent, though issues did emerge including how to better manage work and document flow, how legal services could be better structured and delivered, and how best to re-evaluate the client experience.
According to PracticeEvolve “The survey suggests that those committed to building on the gains achieved in remote and flexible working conditions following COVID-19 will need to invest in sophisticated and intuitive technology and collaboration tools. They will also need to up the ante on training and development and imbed a new mindset that working remotely or flexibly will positively impact profitability and morale.”
It was also clear that a high number of firms were not prepared for a catastrophic event of this scale with 59% surveyed reporting they had a business continuity plan in place while a staggering 41% did not.
“As drought, bush fires, floods and now COVID-19 make clear, firms must be agile and ready to scale up and down to meet varying degrees of business activity as well as have a risk management plan in place that is reviewed and stressed tested regularly,” PracticeEvolve added.
Responses on productivity were mixed. Nearly 47% reporting no difference, over 24% reported increased productivity while just 16% reported decreased productivity.
“The legal profession is being propelled into a digital age where technology, collaboration tools, and people will reshape the legal landscape. Firms have commented on the need to invest in technologies to help cultivate a compelling culture, giving people a sense of commitment to their work and their team members in order to thrive,” PracticeEvolve added.
In the longer term, over 52% of firms believe disruption and end-to-end business change is the number one prediction for the legal profession going forward. Nearly 32% predict less business confidence and almost 40% do not plan to increase staff numbers in FY21.
“The survey makes it clear that moving forward well-managed law firms who continue to invest in new and better technologies will be the key to profitability and client centricity. This coupled with, investment in their employees will mean they will have the best people drive these technologies to enhance the client experience, free up resources for higher-value work and, most importantly, foster a ‘can do’ culture,” PracticeEvolve concluded.
Survey methodology: The State of the Nation outlook for mid-size Australian law firms – 2020/2021 was conducted in June 2020