Faced with increasing information complexity, changing client demands and shifting market forces, legal professionals are turning to technology to help them achieve better outcomes. However, not all lawyers are doing so at the same pace, and those already leveraging technology have an early adopter advantage, including higher profitability and readiness to take on change, according to findings from the 2019 Future Ready Lawyer Survey from Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory.
The survey focuses on three core areas and asked legal professionals to assess their current state and future priorities and preparedness to identify what it will take to be future ready in the areas of: Tools & Technology; Client Needs & Expectations; and Organisation & Talent. Across these categories, the independently conducted survey of 700 lawyers in law firms, legal departments and business services firms across Europe and the U.S. found significant differences between those organisations already leveraging technology (Technology Leaders) and those with limited use and plans to leverage technology to a greater extent ahead (Transitioning organisations). Detailed findings are available in the survey report, which can be downloaded here.
Preparing for Change
Legal professionals foresee pressure from a series of trends they expect to impact their organizations over the next three years. The top five trends expected to have the most impact according to the Future Ready Lawyer Survey are:
- Coping with increased volume and complexity of information (72% report expected impact);
- Emphasis on improved efficiency and productivity (71%);
- Understanding which legal technologies deliver the highest value (69%);
- Meeting changing client and leader expectations (68%); and
- Financial issues including greater price competition, alternative fee structures and cost containment pressures (68%).
Yet, there’s a concerning gap between these near-term forces and readiness to manage them. Fewer than one-third of legal professionals report their organisations overall are very prepared to address any one of these trends. In fact, while “Coping with increased volume and complexity of information” is a concern for 72% of lawyers, only 31% indicate their organisation is very prepared to address it. Next, 71% of lawyers say “Emphasis on improved efficiency and productivity” will impact their organisation, but only 31% say their organisation is very prepared to respond.
Acceleration of Tech Adoption: From Foundational to Transformational Technologies
The Future Ready Lawyer Survey from Wolters Kluwer also examined the technologies lawyers are using today and plan to implement over the next three years. The number of lawyers using transformational technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), big data, predictive analytics, machine learning, blockchain and decision support tools, is expected to approximately double by 2022. Technology Leaders expect to embrace these technologies at a higher rate than Transitioning organisations, across the board. More than one-half of lawyers expect to see some impact from these transformational technologies over the next three years – but fewer than 24% say they understand them very well. As may be expected, millennials score higher in both forecasting the impact of these new technologies and understanding how they can be used. In addition to the survey findings on trends, technologies and change, the Future Ready Lawyer report also includes insights from legal industry luminaries in the U.S. and Europe.
About the Survey
The 2019 Future Ready Lawyer Survey from Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory included quantitative interviews with 700 lawyers in law firms, legal departments and business services firms across the U.S. and 10 European countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Hungary and the Czech Republic to examine how technology and other factors are affecting the future practice of law across core areas and how legal organizations are prepared to address these. The survey was conducted online for Wolters Kluwer by a leading international research organisation from December 10, 2018 through January 13, 2019.