ANALYSIS: Firms Are More Prepared to Use Legal Tech in 2020

Law firms and in-house legal departments agree that outside lawyers need to increase the use of legal technology to be more efficient. Bloomberg Law’s Legal Operations Survey (2020) found that three-quarters of in-house respondents expect their outside attorney to increase tech streak, and more than 80% of corporate lawyers said their clients have this expectation. However, technology is not a major factor in choosing the outside lawyer.

Law firm respondents are more focused on the internal community on this question than in last year’s survey, which found law firms lag behind in their understanding of technology usage and efficiency expectations.

Our 2019 survey found a 14% gap between law firms and internal respondents: 87% of internal respondents said they expect law firms to use technology increasingly efficiently, while only 73% of law firms said their clients had this expectation.

It appears that law firms took up this issue in 2020. 82% of them admit that customers expect them to step up tech to drive efficiency.

Three quarters of the internal respondents said that external consultants are expected to make greater use of technology. Roughly the same number of respondents – 73% – said their legal department’s requirements for outside attorneys to show value have increased.

Businesses improve technical readiness

Law firms have also improved their readiness to use technology since last year.

In 2019, fewer than half of law firm respondents said they were ready to meet customer demands for increased use of technology. This year, more than three quarters said that their companies are willing to make more use of legal technologies.

This is a huge leap from last year and shows that law firms understand better that legal technology is popular and that they may need to prepare for customer demands in order to use more technology.

Technology is not the main reason for external hiring

While clients can place high demands on legal technology, the use of technology when selecting external consultants is by no means the top priority for internal departments.

Personal recommendations and a law firm’s reputation remain the most common reasons for hiring a law firm. Only 2 in 5 internal respondents said innovation is important and less than a third said technology integration is important.

However, this focus can change. As the focus on efficiency increases, in-house departments are likely to need more information about the technical deployment in their legal affairs to ensure that cost savings are achieved through outsourcing and automation.

Our Legal Technology 2020 Survey is currently open to responses and will delve deeper into the use of technology for external consultants, internal expectations, and other topics.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content in our In Focus: Legal Technology resource.

If you are reading this on the Bloomberg Terminal please run BLAW OUT to access the linked content.

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