The survey, conducted in partnership with YouGov, polled 258 lawyers at firms with 50+ employees: 133 in the U.S. and 125 in the U.K. It focused on how technology and culture are affecting lawyer attitudes toward their firms.
At a high level, the survey showed that lawyers recognize the importance of using software that is purpose-built for their needs and those of their clients as opposed to generic solutions. Among lawyers surveyed based in the U.S., 40 percent said little to none of the software they use regularly has been designed with a law firm in mind.
Digging a bit deeper into the details of what these U.S. lawyers say they need to make their experience with legal technology better, 41 percent indicate that user interface is a problem, followed by a need for software more tailored to the business of law (29 percent) and more intuitive operation of the software (29 percent).
Artificial intelligence (AI) was a high-profile technology trend that many lawyers surveyed think will be valuable. In the U.S., 30 percent said that AI could help draft legal documents and another 30 percent said it could help track billable time. Others said its value lies in conflicts clearance (25 percent), compliance with client billing requirements (20 percent) and estimating fees of an engagement (19 percent).
Regarding what these U.S. lawyers say their clients want, 35 percent of those with clients report that they are demanding faster service, while 24 percent say their clients want more transparency about the status of matters. Another priority is lower fees, with 25 percent indicating that as a client demand. Unsurprisingly, these opinions vary between biglaw and other-sized firms, with biglaw valuing lower fees at 33 percent (vs. 15 percent for non-biglaw) and faster service at 30 percent (vs. 40 percent).
“The survey results align closely with the larger business trend of organizations recognizing the need to shift to industry-vertical technology solutions and away from the one-size-fits-all model,” said Dan Tacone, Intapp’s president. “In the case of the legal industry, the competition from other law firms, legal service providers and in-house attorneys is too fierce to not take advantage of modern, purpose-built technology. To differentiate themselves, meet client expectations and grow profits, technology has to play a significant role in a firm’s business processes and operations. This trend is industry-agnostic and will continue to grow.”
“As I often tell my legal industry clients, law firms are at a tipping point with regard to technology,” said Ralph Baxter, former chairman and CEO of the global law firm Orrick and advisor to law firms, legal technology startups and corporate law departments. “As the survey clearly demonstrates, firms need to invest now in technology that integrates quickly and contributes to business development, client service and internal processes. Further, they need to find creative ways of reducing the billable hour and providing faster service. The technology to do so is out there, and time is of the essence.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 258 lawyers at firms with 50+ employees: 133 in the U.S. and 125 in the U.K. Fieldwork was undertaken between February 8-14, 2019. The survey was carried out online.