Wolters Kluwer: New Future Ready Lawyer Survey – Moving Beyond the Pandemic
The 2021 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey: Moving Beyond the Pandemic includes insights from 700 legal professionals across nine European countries and the U.S. The survey examines issues and trends affecting the future of law as organizations work to both rebound from the challenges of the past year, and position themselves for higher performance ahead. The report focuses on survey findings, with insights and information related to the impact of the pandemic on legal professionals’ plans, priorities and perspectives.
«The 2021 Future Ready Lawyer Survey findings show clearly that the transformation of the legal profession has been accelerated by the pandemic –, said Martin O’Malley, Wolters Kluwer legal & regulatory executive vice president and managing director – . Trends such as the importance of legal technology, the volume and complexity of information, changing client expectations, the need for improved performance and productivity, and new ways of working all gained momentum in the past year. Increasingly, professionals see digital transformation and technology at the center of their success moving forward».
Fewer than 36% of the lawyers say their organization is prepared to keep up with the trends they believe will impact over the next three years. Those trends being: increasing importance of legal technology (77%), coping with increased volume and complexity of information (77%), meeting changing client/leadership expectations (76%), ability to acquire and retain talent (76%), emphasis on improved efficiency/productivity (75%).
The gaps between corporate legal departments’ expectations and law firms’ capabilities and services continued in 2021. Corporate legal departments are more aggressively turning to technology solutions and they are pressuring law firms to do the same. Within three years, 91% of legal departments will ask prospective firms about their technology use – a 10-point increase over 2020. An increasing number of corporate legal departments expect that the law firms they work with: use technology to deliver best service possible (78%) and to drive productivity/efficiency (76%)
Only 30% of corporate legal departments are very satisfied with their law firms, and an increasing number plan to switch firms: 24% say they are very likely to switch firms compared to just 13% in 2020. 82% of corporate legal departments say it is important for the law firms they work with to fully leverage technology.
Corporate Legal Departments
The pandemic intensified pressures on legal departments, with their top challenges being: automating routine tasks and leveraging technology in work processes, reducing/controlling outside legal costs and managing the growing demands on the corporate legal department.
To help overcome those challenges, 57% of legal departments say they will increase their technology investment. The majority of legal departments are planning to make greater use of: third-party or outsourced resources (77%); insourcing of legal work (76%); contract staff (75%); alternative legal service providers (73%); and non-legal staff (70%). each of these areas showed increases over 2020 levels.
Law firms are responding to heightened client expectations, investing and innovating at higher levels to drive efficiency and deliver value.
Law firms anticipate change in how they deliver services over the next three years: 82% expect greater specialization of legal services offered by firms, 81% expect greater use of technology to improve productivity, 78% expect increased emphasis on innovation, 78% expect greater collaboration and transparency between firms and clients. 63% of law firms say they will increase their technology investment, and as firms focus on clients’ changing expectations 74% report they are investing in new technology to support firm operations and client work.
Law firms are also looking at new ways of working. Compared to 2020, more law firms now anticipate greater use of non-legal staff (69%); more self-service by clients (68%); greater use of third-party or outsourced resources (68%); and greater use of contract staff (65%).