• 91% of corporate legal departments say it will be important to have a law firm that fully leverages technology
  • 63% of lawyers expect to increase their investment in software to support legal work
  • 36% or fewer lawyers are very prepared to address the most significant legal trends coming at them
  • 63% of technology leading law firms report their profitability increased over the past year – more than any other firms

It’s been said that the pandemic brought the future to the present. This is certainly true for the legal profession. But what are the challenges lawyers are facing and how can they thrive in the new normal?

The 2022 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey: Leading Change Report provides insights from 751 legal professionals across Europe and the U.S.

As the Future Ready Lawyer Survey shows, new and improved technology capabilities are driving greater resilience, improved client relations and higher performance for many organisations in the legal profession across Europe and the U.S.

Together, these strengthened digital and business capabilities are crucial… because the future is increasingly dynamic, complex and uncertain.

The Report examines:

  • Leading legal industry trends
  • The changing client-firm relationship
  • The changing legal department
  • The changing law firm
  • Legal technology as a performance driver
  • The rising role of ESG
  • Competitive advantages
  • Talent challenges
Learn more about the Survey findings and download the Report now! >>

Future Ready Lawyer 2022 Survey findings
Survey findings show that the pressure on legal professionals is higher now more than ever, as they are facing pervasive ongoing change.

Challenges include the vast complexity of compliance requirements, higher performance expectations, growing talent tensions, the urgent need for legal tech-enabled efficiency and the escalated demand of emerging areas such as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

Key Findings

Leading trends

According to the Survey, the top three trends expected to impact legal professionals are: 
  • Increasing Importance of Legal Technology (79%)
  • Coping with Increased Volume and Complexity of Information (79%)
  • Meeting Changing Client/Leadership Expectations (79%)

Only 36% or fewer lawyers say their organization is very prepared to address the most significant trends they believe will impact them in the next three years…

Client-firm relationships

Client demand for tech-enabled law firms hit a record high in 2022 and is expected to continue to climb.

In 2021 and 2020, just 52% and 41% of legal departments respectively reported asking the law firms they were considering to describe the technology they used to be more productive and efficient.

Today, that has jumped to 70%, and it is projected to hit 97% by 2025.

Download the Report to learn more >>
Each year the number of legal departments that ask the law firms about technology is growing. Within three years, nearly all legal departments (97%) plan to do so

New Developments in the Legal Profession

Changes in who does the work

Legal departments - 84% will make greater use of alternative legal service providers / Law firms - 81% will increase use of third-party or outsourced resources
As lawyers focus on finding new ways to more effectively manage their increasing workload, the Survey shows a significant and growing trend across legal organizations over the past three years in “who” does the work.

Legal departments and law firms are increasingly leveraging different types of arrangements – from contract workers and third-party resources to alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) and non-legal staff.

Organizations’ efforts to further bolster their teams come at a critical time as they now prepare to face the new talent challenges that have emerged from the pandemic.

Talent challenges

  • 86% of legal departments and 70% of law firms report they have experienced very or somewhat significant impact from the “great resignation”.
  • 70% of corporate lawyers and 58% of law firm lawyers say they are very to somewhat likely to leave their current position in the next year.
  • Only 36% of lawyers in legal departments and 33% in law firms think their organisation is very prepared to recruit/retain technology staff.
  • 87% of lawyers in legal departments and 83% in law firms say it’s extremely or very important to them to work for an organisation that fully leverages technology.
Lawyers want to work in tech-savvy legal departments (87%) and firms (83%)

ESG

Legal professionals have been challenged by the unprecedented growth in Environmental, Social and Governance concerns.

ESG has quickly emerged as a significant and specific demand on corporate legal departments, and it will continue to grow. The need for creating and sharing ESG policies and procedures is increasing.

Law firms are positioning themselves to respond to ESG challenges. They are experiencing significant growth in ESG demand from clients but demand is outstripping their preparedness to respond.

Download the Report to learn more >>

More Insights From Future Ready Lawyer

Legal Luminaries’ Insights

The Future Ready Lawyer Survey 2022 Report provides insights from legal industry luminaries from Europe and the U.S. on the impact of the crisis on the legal profession.  
  • Bob Ambrogi
  • Helena Hallgarn
  • Patricia Manca Diaz
  • Jean O’Grady
  • Martin O’Malley
  • Marcus M. Schmitt
  • Richard Tromans
  • Jeroen Zweers
  • Giulietta Lemmi
Robert Ambrogi
While technology provides essential tools, data provides the insights to guide the most effective use of those tools. From legal research to litigation strategy, from compliance to pricing, data is the key that unlocks smarter decision-making.
Bob Ambrogi
Helena Hallgarn
We will probably see new businesses focus on solving legal issues with a combination of expertise such as lawyers, project managers, IT people and data analytics.
Helena Hallgarn
Patricia Manca Diaz
The transformation requires first believing in the advantages that technology brings to the legal world, and this means accepting the change in the way of working, in the management of our teams, in the selection of the people who must compose them as well as in how we lend differential service to our client, whether internal or external.
Patricia Manca Diaz
OGRADY
[The pandemic] has highlighted the need for ongoing technology training and for the development of interfaces and workflows that match attorneys to the right tool during a workflow process.
Jean O’Grady
Martin O’Malley Executive Vice President and Managing Director Legal & Regulatory
With growing legal and regulatory complexity for organisations, AI use cases become more and more obvious to legal professionals. As we are past the 'robot lawyer' fantasy and fear, lawyers progressively understand how AI can provide valuable assistance in complex operations, while learning and identifying patterns along the way.
Martin O’Malley
Marcus M.Schmitt
Two aspects are of essence now: Players in the legal market should not delay ongoing and planned digitalisation projects for too long with the argument of being overwhelmed by actual legal work. Second and maybe most importantly, let us talk not only about success stories but especially failures.... This will add value to digitalisation projects and legal operations at large.
Marcus M. Schmitt
Richard Tromans
What is fundamentally missing most of all is a new way of thinking about how legal work is produced. This is due to a lack of a ‘burning platform,’ i.e., a demand to change.... It is now 2022 – we are well beyond the point for a need to change.
Richard Tromans
JPJ-Jeroen-Zweers-1536
AI can determine where to find valuable legal knowledge because it can read and understand the legal language. I call this the Second Brain movement. It also will solve another problem. Because of the war on talent, lawyers will not stay that long anymore working for the same law firms, so their knowledge will disappear from the organisation. With this technology, content created by these lawyers will still be found.
Jeroen Zweers
Giulietta Lemmi
Corporate Legal Departments are asked by Executive Boards to build successful ESG programs, from defining the scope around the issues of greatest impact to the business to governing the execution to ensure each program component meets the key goals. Law firms could attract a broader client base by meeting their ESG needs and, at the same time, ESG disclosures would ensure law firms to hold themselves accountable for their social responsibility.
Giulietta Lemmi

About the Survey and Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory

The 2022 Future Ready Lawyer Survey: Leading Change from Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory included quantitative interviews with 751 lawyers in law firms, legal departments and business services firms across the U.S. and 10 European countries – the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Sweden and Hungary – to examine how client expectations, technology and other factors are affecting the future of law across core areas and how legal organisations are prepared to address these. The Survey was conducted online for Wolters Kluwer by a leading international research organisation from May 16 to June 3, 2022.

Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory is a division of Wolters Kluwer, a global leading provider of legal and compliance solutions that enable professionals to improve productivity and performance, mitigate risk and achieve better outcomes.

Wolters Kluwer (WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the healthcare; tax and accounting; governance, risk and compliance; and legal and regulatory sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialised technology and services. Wolters Kluwer reported 2021 annual revenues of €4.8 billion. The group serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.

The 2022 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey
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