The Bellwether Report, Race to Evolve, suggests a disconnect between the areas law firms add value and where they are investing
The research finds that while 92% of lawyers assert that continued investment in technology is no longer optional, they often do not value efficiency that technology provides highly enough to invest. This is despite clients ranking lawyer efficiency as one of the key ways lawyers can add value to the legal process.
Most lawyers interviewed who use legal tools agree they make a difference; with well over half stressing that the contribution is significant. 30% of non-users agree that investing in legal tools would significantly increase their efficiency. However, 49% of lawyers consider their law firm’s efficiency to be average, with 36% rating their firm’s efficiency to be above average, suggesting that they don’t see the need to make immediate changes in this area. The report proposes a holding pattern has emerged, whereby firms have identified the changes necessary to improve efficiency but have not yet made the leap from words to action.
Ratings were mixed as to which activities lawyers considered the most important drivers of efficiency in their law firms, but “not dabbling outside your practice area” emerged as the frontrunner (41%) – higher even than investing in new technology (17%). It’s not surprising then that 95% refer enquiries outside their firm’s specialism to other firms. Given that 75% of firms are actively involved in generating new business, the report suggests that investing in the right tools and processes may give more firms the opportunity, resources, skills and procedures, to start accepting more of the potential business that comes directly to the door.
“Law firms must align their working practices with that of their increasingly tech-savvy and informed client base,” commented Jon Whittle, Market Development Director at LexisNexis. “One of the problems is getting lawyers to take a long term view. While their firms may be thriving now, if they don’t take a commercially savvy, customer-centric, progressive view of the business and invest in solutions that drive efficiency today, this will not be in the case in five years.
“It’s clear from our research that those firms that are investing are far outpacing those who aren’t, and this isn’t going unnoticed by their clients. While it seems many law firms understand where the gaps are, there is a push and pull phenomenon between traditional and modern working practices, and a disconnect between words and action. Ultimately, while many lawyers are still charging by the hour they are not understanding the value of their time – and this needs to change.”
The Bellwether Report 2017 is the fifth annual report in the series and explores the current and future state of the legal landscape from the point of view of independent law firms. It explores how firms are tackling the pressures of change in the profession wide race to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to client-centric, forward-thinking, efficient service. This report, The Race to Evolve, is the second and final report in the Bellwether 2017 series and is based on 10 in-depth interviews followed by an online survey among 149 lawyers via the LexisNexis databases.
The full report can be accessed here: www.lexisnexis.co.uk/therace
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