We explore key challenges for the legal sector this year and how technology can help
Like the majority of industries, the legal sector was significantly impacted by COVID-19 and its resulting aftershock. The overnight shift from office to remote working was a huge departure for the sector, followed by a further shift to hybrid working which is now the norm for many. The pandemic also brought about a dramatic increase in the reliance on technology to support the legal profession and its clients to work effectively in the new, digital environment. COVID-19 aside, there are many other obstacles the legal industry is facing and will continue to grapple with in 2023. With a recession looming and competition in the labour market driving up costs for law firms, the new year is unlikely to be plain sailing. In this article, we explore three challenges for legal professionals in 2023 and how technology can help tackle them.
1) Talent retention
Finding and retaining high-quality legal talent will always be difficult, and the recent Great Resignation only reinforced this. Increasing salaries alone has not made the problem go away. To hold onto talent, law firms need to take a broader perspective that considers their culture as well as working practices and technology that make it easier for lawyers to do their jobs.
This might include incentives like continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities and understanding generational differences in the workplace (regarding the use of technology, for example). Law firms also need to think about the ways in which they can make their lawyers feel supported and appreciated in a hybrid working environment. For example, sufficient mentoring for junior lawyers and robust onboarding for new joiners.
2) Lawyer burnout
As our report of early 2022 and the current high turnover of lawyers show, burnout is a very real problem amongst the legal profession. Law firms can be competitive environments to work in, and a focus on profit and billable hours can lead to many legal professionals feeling overworked.
According to an article by The Law Society Gazette, a lawyer “with a modest target of 1400 billable hours per year will need to account for approximately 6 hours of billable time per day”. In an average 37-hour week, this leaves that lawyer with just one hour a day in which to complete all the other aspects of their role, e.g. admin, billing, business development, calls and meetings. With figures like this, it’s easy to see why burnout can become an issue.
3) Increasing digital expectations
Our collective digital expectations have evolved significantly over recent years. With online interactions reaching record numbers, today’s clients demand a smooth and efficient user experience. They are also more aware of technology’s potential to handle mundane and repetitive tasks.
In a recent report by Thomson Reuters, technology and digital skills ranked second place in a clients’ wish list for lawyers survey – with 27% of respondents indicating these were becoming increasingly important:
Law firms should not bury their heads in the sand regarding this, but should seek to embrace tools that can help them work smarter and give them a competitive advantage!
How technology can help with these challenges
Technology has a role to play in each of these challenges for legal professionals. Equipping your firm with the right tech benefits both lawyers and clients. Having software that enables lawyers to work more efficiently and provides greater scope to handle strategic, high-value tasks will go a long way to retaining talent and preventing frustration and burnout. Clients also appreciate – and expect – the convenience and transparency that technology offers.
Good legaltech vendors understand the challenges for legal professionals and will seek to address these through their products. As well as this, they’ll work with you closely to encourage the adoption of legaltech and help you overcome any potential barriers to this.