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Highlights of Clio 2022 Legal Trends Report

Legal professionals as early as 2016, have prudently relied on Clio’s annual Legal Trends Report for an objective and comprehensive analysis of trends in the legal industry. The 2022 Legal Trends Report brings together critical insights about how law firms have adapted their services to meet the challenging circumstances of the past three years since the pandemic. It also is an extensive evaluation of legal practice. In addition, this comprehensive report includes trends that are shaping up the future legal services in US and Canada. Law firms can use this data that provides essential insights on how the legal professionals use technology as well as technology’s impact on firm performance. The legal trends report also explores how to thrive in this new legal environment of rapidly shifting consumer expectations.

In this blogpost we will cover key points from Legal Trends 2022 report and highlight the excerpts of the report.

  • How business has changed for law firms since 2019

  • The location of work has shifted giving way to rush for legal services.

  • Blurring the work-life balance.

  • Prioritizing Client Needs.

  • Lawyers having Cloud-based technology are running better to handle client needs.

How business has changed for law firms since 2019 –

The pandemic cast light upon legal industry’s lagging position in the technology and in the wake of doing better. There has been a constant need of performing and practicing better with improved remote connection. Law firm businesses have been forced to embrace the virtual world exponentially.

Cloud-based technologies have become increasingly popular tool across the legal system. With cloud-based solutions, legal system has been provided seamless access to the information users needed to do their jobs.

NO matter, where they are working from, they have a complete and foolproof access of their legal confidential information. The legal industry has struggled to find its balance after a tumultuous few years. With demand for legal services reaching record highs in 2022, the added pressure on lawyers has blurred the lines between work and life. 

The spread of remote work has brought new opportunities for flexibility but has also contributed to the breakdown of work-life balance. Lawyers now face a difficult challenge as they search for the right way to balance their own needs with those of their clients.

The location of work has shifted giving way to rush for legal services

While many lawyers were already accustomed to spending part of their time working out of office—whether at home, at court, or visiting clients—the more complete shift to at-home and virtual settings meant learning new ways to maintain work continuity and collaborate with clients and members of their firm. On a deeper level, this shift also signals potential friction between lawyers and their firms regarding the ideal balance between office and in-home work, which could have implications for attracting and retaining legal talent within a hot employment market.

The most dramatic shift in office use appears in the Hybrid group, which comprises 10% of all firms. Before 2020, more than 80% of all firm members in this group worked exclusively from the office.  By mid-2022, fewer than 50% of firm members were working from an office.

There has been a clear distinction between the nature and location of work. – the mostly digital firms who have preferred to work remotely from an office prior to and after 2020; the only office group includes firms that primarily work in an office. This group saw as much as 98% of their firm work from an office prior to 2020. Since then, 95% of firm members have remained exclusively in the office; the mostly digital group has also seen most firm members (over 80%) primarily work from an office before and after 2020. While the office appears to remain a central hub for firm members in this group, about one in four work remotely on a regular basis.

The surge in casework also puts strain on firms to meet demand, resulting in an upward pressure in wages that contributed to a hot job market. Lawyers are considering leaving a job are looking for better pay. Reuters reports suggests that many lawyers are also benefiting from the current state of the industry. Work-life balance was just as important in terms of job movement and was cited as a reason for leaving a role more often than disliking their firm, manager, type of work, and colleagues.

When it comes to balancing work and life, the flexibility of being able to work from home plays a role for many.

Blurring the work-life balance

As remote work becomes more common within law firms, it’s important to consider the impact this has on legal professionals on an individual level. With more work taking place within the home, the lines between personal and professional responsibilities have increasingly blurred, creating a state of imbalance for many lawyers. Coupled with the fact that law firms have been busier throughout the year, more lawyers are at risk of burnout if they are putting in more hours overall—especially at irregular hours of the day.

By comparing when lawyers prefer to be working and when they actually work during a typical day, we can see that many lawyers are working outside of their preferred schedules, largely in the evenings and on weekends.

Most clients want the option to meet or at least communicate with their lawyer during evenings or weekends. This is likely because meeting during a regular business day can be inconvenient for clients. Some may also appreciate the convenience of being able to speak to their lawyer at any time of any day, especially when faced with an urgent problem. It’s clear that lawyers recognize this need since most are willing to make themselves available to clients during these times.

Lawyers working irregular hours were less likely to report positive personal wellness, yet were no more satisfied with their earnings. As legal professionals embrace more flexible work habits—and possibly more work in general—they run the risk of their work negatively impacting their personal life, and vice versa. The phenomenon of work-from-home burnout is not exclusive to the legal field. Working irregular schedules may also require lawyers to find better ways to maintain relationships with their clients and colleagues. Again, this could also be about creating the space for these relationships, but it could also mean employing better ways of staying connected, regardless of location, and especially through technology. Video conferencing tools and instant messaging systems make it easier and more effective than ever to keep in touch with others, even while managing a breadth of important personal and professional priorities.

Prioritizing Client Needs

Finding ways to boost and maintain positive client reviews remains one of the most impactful ways lawyers can make themselves more hirable. lawyers should focus on driving positive client reviews, they should also determine what influences the reviews they receive. There are a range of factors that will influence reviews for any given firm, and many of the factors included in this study can be used to help lawyers prioritize their work to earn more positive reviews. The location of a lawyer’s office is tied with responsiveness as the second-most important factor in hiring decisions Clients may care less about the physical location of their lawyers. Firms with a strong online presence that can articulate their familiarity with local judicial law and show attentiveness regardless of location may be able to successfully market their services in surrounding cities and other remote areas.

In addition to how much clients care about responsiveness in their lawyer, there is likely a real-world reality to consider: firms that are quickest to respond to potential clients—and to make a good impression with relevant and thorough information—are most likely to earn new business.

Another consideration is the practical advantage to being able to respond during these times—or at least to have systems in place to help meet the immediate needs of clients through some other means.

While clients may want access to their lawyer during inconvenient times, this does not require a human being to provide a positive experience for every interaction—technology and automation can dramatically improve how clients perceive responsiveness outside of normal business hours.

Lawyers having Cloud-based technology are running better to handle client needs

We’ve also seen the potential negative impact that an irregular work schedule can have on lawyers. As these trends continue, lawyers will need to find better ways to balance their work with their personal lives. In this respect, we can also see that many lawyers have found ways to thrive in the face of difficult circumstances.

Lawyers working for law firms that use cloud-based legal practice management software are more likely to see positive outcomes related to their professional and personal lives, especially when it comes to relationships with others.

When comparing how lawyers rate their relationships with clients, those using cloud-based legal practice management software to manage their practice were more likely to have positive relationships with their clients and colleagues.

Beyond the ways in which lawyers work and the impact that technology has on daily operations, cloud-based firms also see better performance when looking at key measures of success. Those using cloud-based software are more likely to have satisfied clients.

Cloud-based LPMs have transformed the practice of law by enabling lawyers to offer better client experiences and increased flexibility, resulting in better well-being, happiness, and work-life balance. As the market for legal services continues to evolve, the adaptability and resilience gained from cloud technology—in addition to the many other benefits to work and life—indicate that the industry will continue its rapid and permanent shift to the cloud in the years to come. Law firms that embrace both a mindset and technology infrastructure that allows them to be antifragile will be the ones that thrive.

Courtesy – Clio

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