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Aderant survey: 92% of firms were prepared for remote work

The 2020 Aderant Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey has revealed that 92% of law firms were prepared for the full-scale remote work at the outset of the pandemic, but continue to face issues when it comes to operational efficiency and technology adoption.

In its fourth consecutive year, the survey set out to capture data about the greatest challenges law firms are facing: technology use; strategic planning; and performance efficiency.

It found that firms were more prepared for disruption than they realized. Over a quarter of firms (26%) reported that they were “completely prepared,” and a further two-thirds (66%) described their situation as “somewhat prepared.” Combining those two indicates, the report concludes, that nine in ten firms (92%) were hardly disrupted when the pandemic necessitated full scale remote work.

Despite readily adapting to keep their businesses operational throughout the pandemic, operational efficiency and technology adoption remained the top challenges. Operational efficiency has consistently been named the number one challenge in previous Aderant surveys. The report says: “If firms are still met with resistance on efficiency and tech during a pandemic where everyone relied upon tech to keep business going, it’s clear these problems are intractable and built into the bedrock of law firms.”

The report shows that firms have realized that to achieve greater efficiency, they must be prepared to make significant investments in process and technology. Asked ‘how do you predict your spend will change?’, increased investment in process improvement topped the list by a significant margin, followed by investment in software and hardware.Collaboration tools earned the spotlight in 2020 as firms strived to communicate effectively with colleagues and clients in a remote work environment. Cloud-based solutions that firms indicated would drive collaboration forward included: Secure External Portals/Extranets, Financial/Practice Management, Portals/Intranets.

While firms may want to move their practice management solution (PMS) to the cloud, obstacles including existing on-premise integrations can make it difficult.  The report concludes: “More creative solutions, like a software as a service (SaaS) model offering hosting and maintenance services, will be crucial in the success of migrating PMS to the cloud.”

“Our 2020 Survey showed that law firms did phenomenally well at transforming their businesses and achieving strong business continuity during the pandemic,” said Chris Cartrett, Executive Vice President at Aderant.  “However, the challenges of last year were a wake-up call for firms to realize that efficiency concerns, process improvement, and technology adoption required greater investment.  As one of Aderant’s busiest years on record, 2020 provided us with the unique opportunity to equip clients to better leverage technology to serve firm employees and remotely manage internal processes.” 

You can download the report here