Law firms increased their technology spend by 7.1% during the 12-month period through November 2021, according to Thomson Reuters’ State of the Market Report 2022 out today (11 January). The uptick comes despite overall expense cuts. Spending on knowledge management and library services is up by 4.6%. But while spending on marketing and business development re-entered positive territory in 2021, it has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
In the wide-ranging report, Thomson Reuters reports that the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of sound financial practices, encouraging many firms to more rigorously manage timekeeping, billings, and collections. “These efforts have resulted in noticeable upticks in cash collections and a shortening of most firms’ billing and collection cycles,” the report states.
Interestingly, the number of lawyers who now want to work remotely at least one day a week has doubled from pre-pandemic levels and is now at about 86% of lawyers. Clearly, hybrid working arrangements are here to stay.
TR also concludes that the pandemic has shown that remote working does not necessarily result in lower productivity: 2020 YTD productivity levels through November 2021 were essentially the same as productivity levels during the same period in 2019.
TR concludes that the pandemic has shown that firms can achieve more efficiency through some operational changes, including adapting to more efficient use of office space; rethinking staffing and work patterns; and altering levels of secretarial support.
It finds that key actions that should be considered include:
- establishing clear written plans and policies laying out the firm’s expectations regarding employees’ return to the office, safety protocols, and hybrid work arrangements;
- delivering frequent and empathetic communications tailored around the realization that different persons will be dealing with return-to-work issues in differentways;
- providing resources for lawyer and professional staff support through wellness and mental health programs; • offering adequate technical and administrative support for work-at-home arrangements;
- taking a flexible approach to remote work, part-time work, and flex-time arrangements; • developing policies and procedures to assure equity and fairness in assignment, evaluation, compensation, and promotion decisions, especiallyin regard tolawyers and professional staff taking advantage of remote working arrangements;
- creating policies and procedures to provide adequate supervision and oversight for remote working situations;
- modifying training programs to treat lawyers and professional staff equitably regardless of their in-person or remote working status;
- making appropriate investments in technology to keep the firm on the cutting edge of digital communications and artificial intelligence-assisted work processes; and
- finding additional ways to foster social engagement and comradery within the firm.
To read the report in full click here: https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/legal/state-of-the-legal-market-2022/