The State of the Legal Biz

How things have changed

The State of the Legal Biz

♫ Take me to the clouds above
Take me to the clouds above...

— Music and Lyrics by G. R. Merrill, S. Rubicam, A. Clayton,
D. Evans, P. D. Hewson, L. Mullen, N. M. Walden, recorded by U2.

Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” The pandemic forced law firms to change the way they look at how they carried on business. As a result, the way lawyers carry on business has changed.

LawPay and MyCase carried out their 2022 Legal Industry Report between August and September 2022, and the results have just been released. Their 31-page report provides many an insight into how things have changed in the state of today’s law firm. For example:

“Law firms’ investment in technology — especially technology that enabled remote work — occurred at rates never before seen. Many experts have suggested that the pandemic’s effects may have accelerated technology adoption by as much as a decade.”

One of the biggest changes has been the adoption of cloud-based technologies. 57% of survey respondents reported that their firms invested in cloud computing tools during the past year because of the effects of the pandemic, resulting in 80% of surveyed firms now using cloud-based applications.

Not surprisingly, remote working software was high on surveyed law firm’s adoption cycle. 70% of firms reported that remote working technology was part of their law firm’s long-term business continuity plan. The business case for working remotely was clearly demonstrated.

The study continued, “Virtual court appearances and hearings, which were arguably inconceivable by many before the pandemic, are expected to continue even as the pandemic wanes.” Well, perhaps in the USA. Here in BC, we seem to have made a great leap backwards to the 17th century as indicated by:

“On February 1, 2023, trial management conferences will resume in person in accordance with Rule 12-2(4) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules and Rule 14-3(4) of the Supreme Court Family Rules. When this change takes effect, all civil and family proceedings will be in person unless the Court otherwise orders or directs,” (as per the Supreme Court of BC notice).

One change that will continue will be the use of online payment tools. They found that the vast majority of firms (84%) now accept credit cards and payments from clients using such online tools.

A change that is ongoing is the transition from consumer accounting software (used in 50% of surveyed firms) to legal specific accounting software (currently used by 28% of surveyed firms). The reason is straightforward:

“Given that legal-specific accounting software is designed with the ethical compliance needs of attorneys in mind, we expect that percentage to trend upward over time now that these tools are more readily available than in years past.”

Another use of the cloud was to store documents online. Given the advantages that online storage provides for remote access and remote work, online backup, and protection from physical destruction, only 7% of survey respondents reported that their firms did not yet store documents online.

There are many other insights contained in the full report. One thing is clear. Law firms today are saying “Take me to the clouds....”

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