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Law firms still allocating work in the dark, new report finds

BigHand has published another industry report, this time looking at legal resource management, with the findings including the revelation that ‘60% of firms do not have information about the work allocated from partners to associates.’ 

The report stems from research conducted in May, when BigHand gathered a total of 914 responses across senior operations, HR, support services, resource management and practice group leader roles, from firms of 50+ lawyers in the UK, North America and APAC. Its Legal Workflow Management Report was published last month from the same bank of research.

The latest report shows that 98% of North American law firms, 99% of UK firms, and 86% of APAC firms are reviewing their resourcing processes. However when it comes to reviewing matter resourcing based on profitability – factoring in profitability in the resource allocation process – 50% of North American firms said it is a priority over the next 24 months. That number drops to 45% in the UK and 47% in APAC.

The report finds: “While law firms maintained profits in 2020, this was achieved primarily through cost-cutting measures and senior staff going above and beyond to meet client needs. As the post pandemic economic business model begins to evolve, costs are escalating again, creating new pressures to achieve the levels of profitability achieved last year.”

Interestingly if not surprisingly, the vast majority of US and UK firms say they have reduced lawyer headcount or hours. And most firms in the US (65%) and UK (57%) say their lawyers plan to work away from the office three days or more a week.

The report, which also includes a look at the findings around client expectations and diversity, equity and inclusion when it comes to work allocation, concludes that law firms recognise the challenges and opportunities associated with effective work allocation in a hybrid working environment. However, they share challenges around the lack of visibility in capacity, skillsets and information to support DEI and profitability.

You can read the report here: https://www.bighand.com/en-gb/resources/whitepapers/the-legal-resource-management-report/

Caroline.hill@legalitlexicon.com