Lawyers are relying on online tools and technology more than ever
By Niki Black, MyCase
The American Bar Association recently released its 2021 Profile of the Profession, which compiles data the ABA collected from several surveys, most of which were conducted in 2020-2021. The report includes valuable information relating to the legal profession, including lawyer demographics and diversity, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the practice of law, lawyers’ perspectives on retirement and the future, and more.
The report also includes interesting data about lawyers’ use of technology. Some of the most notable statistics from this year’s report provide insight into how lawyers use online legal resources, their cybersecurity efforts, and the hardware and software choices they make. No matter how you look at it, the data from the report offers evidence of an important lesson for lawyers: technology is no longer an option and instead is a pivotal component of a successful law practice.
Online legal resources
The legal research statistics from this year’s report are particularly interesting, in part because legal research was one of the first law firm processes to be impacted by technology. The transition to online legal research occurred decades ago, and since that time legal research efficiency has increased significantly. Despite the increased efficiency, according to the report, lawyers still spend a big chunk of their time – 18% of each workday – conducting legal research. For nearly a third of the lawyers surveyed, the starting point for most legal research projects is a free search engine such as Google. Another third (30%) turn to paid online search tools before conducting any other type of legal research.
Lawyers also obtain most of their daily legal news online from a variety of sources. Nearly half of lawyers surveyed shared that Law360 was their top legal news source (41%). Next was the Wall Street Journal (22%), followed by Bloomberg Law News at 8% and Bloomberg at 6%.
The online world has also made its mark when it comes to legal marketing. Gone are the days of relying solely on the Yellow Pages, park benches, billboards, and costly television ads for lawyer advertising. In 2021 – especially while we’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic – the internet is where it’s at. According to the survey results, virtual and in-person event sponsorships were the top way that lawyers marketed their firms (48%), followed by three web-based marketing opportunities: LinkedIn (42%), email (41%), and Facebook (33%). Other less popular marketing methods included print (21%), Twitter (16%), and direct mail (14%).
In 2021, lawyers are more aware than ever of the importance of implementing strong cybersecurity measures. The reason for this newfound vigilance is due to the increase in cyberattacks in recent years. Notably, however, the increased focus on cybersecurity is paying off, and the lawyers surveyed reported lower numbers of viruses, spyware, and malware.
Specifically, 36% of lawyers shared that their law firms were affected by cyberattacks in 2020, down from 40% in 2018 and 43% in 2017. Law firms took several steps – including spam filters (81%), anti-spyware (76%), firewalls (74%), and popup blockers (72%) – to prevent such attacks.
Another noteworthy finding from the survey was that solo attorneys fared better than their larger firm counterparts when it came to cyberattacks. According to the report, only 19% of solos reported that they had experienced a breach, compared to 42% of lawyers from firms with 10-49 lawyers.
Hardware And software choices
Finally, let’s turn to the technologies lawyers used, starting with hardware. When it comes to smartphones, 79% of lawyers surveyed reported iPhones were their preferred smartphones. Android phones came in second at 18%, and the once-popular BlackBerry is used by only 1% of lawyers surveyed.
Lawyers also relied on mobile tools more, which wasn’t surprising given the increase in remote work due to the pandemic. According to the report, lawyers used their laptops significantly more in the past year; nearly half (47%) of lawyers reported that their laptops were their primary work computers, compared to 39% in 2017. In comparison, less than half (49%) of surveyed lawyers used desktops as their main work computers, compared to 60% in 2017. Finally, only 1% of lawyers used tablets as their primary computers.
Next up, let’s take a look at the legal software statistics. As part of the survey, lawyers were asked about the legal software available at law firms. Conflict checking software and case management or law practice management software were the top software surveyed lawyers used. Other types of software that lawyers reported their law firms offered were specialized practice software (37%) and rules-based calendaring software (38%).
The Missouri Bar’s Manage a Practice section of its Practice Management site has everything you need to select a new laptop, move to a new practice management solution, and much more. Have legal technology or practice management questions? Members can schedule a no-cost, one-on-one consultation with the experts at Affinity Consulting Group.
Reprinted with permission of MyCase. Originally published here.