This year’s Briefing Frontiers research is a clarion call to the trusted formula of people, process, and technology working in equilibrium. With most firms expecting some, but not ‘significant’, increase in headcount, the need for greater efficiency and profitability from the same resourcing pool means that taking the routine and mundane from the hands of the lawyer to allow them to focus on what is really important is key to most businesses plans for 2022. Increasing productivity and removing cost rank as the highest priorities, with the path to achieving this coming through automation/workflow and driving data-driven insights.
Some interesting verbatim comes out of the productivity push; automation for administrative jobs is understandable, but this extends to the part technology can play in intelligently automating all kinds of process. Improved matter management and increased workflow automation speak to an acceptance that technology can be a critical partner to the lawyer and their success, rather than being something more suitable for volume law than value. This illustrates the increased understanding of technology in legal but also the increase in the capability of solutions available.
When asked what one solution would help to close the gap between hours worked and billed, automation is the most common phrase used, although it is cited in many different guises – document creation, project management, administration, legal project management, or just dealing with email traffic. It ultimately comes back to a powerful system of record that allows for complex and agile process automation. More effective process, time and budget management as part of the legal project also feature strongly.
Among the general themes, data and insights also feature prominently – and the place that a rich lake of information has in enabling firms to make better, quicker and more profitable decisions is an interesting and important one.
The good news from all the requests is that the solutions to these challenges exist and are being adopted in the legal sector as we speak. As a provider of legal technology solutions, I take considerable comfort from the focus and understanding of the challenges that need to be addressed. Comparing this year’s insights to previous years, there is a clarity of thinking that – if converted to affirmative action – will make this an exciting time for the adoption of technology in the legal sector, to the benefit of lawyers’ success and, just as importantly, their wellbeing.