“Our ambition is to be the law firm of the future”: Deloitte Legal study shows clients want better use of tech

The needs of purchasers of legal services are changing dramatically, with a particular emphasis on advisers that offer services beyond legal and make better use of technology, a new survey has revealed.

Future Trends for Legal Services, a global study commissioned by Deloitte Legal and conducted by RSG Consulting, found that demand for legal services is growing, particularly in regulatory compliance, M&A and litigation.

Over a quarter (26%) of in-house lawyers said that compliance is the biggest challenge in their department, with ‘doing more with less’, appropriate use of technology and the speed of business listed as similarly high up on the agenda.

However, the study, which coincides with Deloitte’s major expansion play in the legal sector, having formally re-entered it in 2014, suggests that conventional law firms are no longer meeting today’s business needs. The majority (55%) of participants in the study (which included legal counsel, general counsel, or CEOs and CFOs) said they have taken or are considering a significant review of their legal suppliers, as their expectations are not currently being met in a number of crucial areas, including the use of technology, transparency in pricing, and the level of integration of professional advisory services.

One in three legal services purchasers surveyed want their legal services provider to bring industry, commercial and non-legal expertise, which currently they do not. In addition to delivery of specific legal services, respondents said their legal services provider should contribute advice and expertise which goes beyond legal (33%) and more proactive knowledge sharing (18%). Fifty-two percent said they would be happy to buy services from a non-traditional law firm.

The report is light on detail – given that these headline findings are not exactly new news. However, the five future trends in the purchasing of legal services or ‘the buyer’s wish list’ are:

1. Integrated cross-border advice beyond legal. A large majority of participants expressed the need for industry, commercial or non-legal expertise. They also want law firms to be more savvy on global data and cyber security protection issues and more pro-active in sharing knowledge across many jurisdictions. Traditional law firms are seen to be trailing other professional services firms in this area.

2. Better and greater use of technology. The majority of participants said that technology had not replaced the tasks of in-house lawyers (77%) – yet. But over half (52%) said that this will happen over the next five years [The report does not make it clear which tasks, and presumably no-one in their right mind thinks that technology will replace all the tasks of all in-house lawyers. Ed] Purchasers want better and more relevant technologies, to be used and shared on integrated platforms.

3. Regulatory and global compliance advice. Nearly half (49%) of all participants said that their department’s legal spend was growing in the area of regulatory compliance. In particular, global compliance is perceived as a major issue for in-house lawyers, with over a quarter (26%) saying it is the biggest challenge within their department.

4. Fixed fees, value pricing and greater transparency. A large majority of participants said they wanted greater certainty and transparency when it comes to billing, and frequently mentioned fixed or capped fees or value-based pricing.

5. Demand for alternative or non-traditional legal service providers. A majority (55%) of participants in the study have taken or are considering a significant review of their legal suppliers. More than half (52%) said they are willing to purchase legal services from a non-traditional law firm that offers a range of professional services.

“The legal profession is undergoing a massive transformation. We at Deloitte Legal see a clear need for a new type of service that combines legal advice with strategic advice across other disciplines. This is not currently provided by other law firms. Our clients want us to bring new solutions to the table, and that’s exactly the gap we want to fill. Our ambition is to become the law firm of the future”, said Piet Hein Meeter, global managing director for Deloitte Legal.

You can access full report here – http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/legal/articles/deloitte-future-trends-for-legal-services.html