The poll of legal professionals mined invaluable insights about issues and trends within the industry including the fact that more than half of survey respondents (55%) rate document security as a top concern. The survey revealed a strong mobile adoption trend, with those in the legal industry identifying mobile solutions (42%) as the No. 1 spending priority in the coming year, followed by cloud based applications (26%). Many legal respondents also envision a “paperless office” in the future but to date physical documents remain the norm.
With Technological Advances Come Increased Security Worries
Concerns about security within the legal profession understandably abound. Despite technology advancements, security requirements have become increasingly complicated when reviewing, sending and sharing sensitive legal documents but there’s often a disconnect on the best route for secure exchange.
• With respect to concerns related to documents, document security (55%) and secure document transfer (12%) represent serious concerns, prevailing over audit trails (4%) and eDiscovery preparedness (4%).
• Despite security being a top concern, the majority of legal professionals use two of the least secure methods to exchange documents most frequently (email 42% and paper snailmail 25%).
• These methods are favored over more secure methods like electronic fax and courier, though fax comes through in the crunch: more than half of legal professionals (51%) have relied on mobile or digital fax to respond quickly in time-sensitive situations.
The Power of the Mobile Attorney
Legal businesses report mobile solutions (42%) as the No. 1 technology spending priority for 2014. This is not a surprise given the on-the-go nature of legal professionals and the need to operate efficiently out of the office. Specific findings related to mobile include:
• Over one quarter (27%) of legal businesses already have or plan to roll out tablets across their organizations this year.
• 45% of legal professionals say virtual office technologies like tablets, smartphones and web conferences have had the biggest impact on legal practices/departments in the past five years.
• Interestingly, the survey found that BYOD security was not a top technology initiative for most respondents. Respondents stated that their top tech initiatives in 2014 include network security (34%) and remote work technologies (16%).
Digital Law Practice and Cloud-Based Solutions: Office of the Future
Despite advances in technology, an increasingly mobile business environment, and stronger security than ever before, the legal industry isn’t in a rush to go “100% digital” quite yet. Physical records are still crucial: The paperless office is a goal but still a long-term vision.
• Only 5% of legal businesses consider their offices as “virtually paperless.”
• 34% of legal professionals say their offices are about 50 percent digital and 50 percent hard copy, while 25 percent of respondents report that they still maintain physical records of all documents.
• 35% believe the paperless office will be one of the biggest technology shifts in the industry, followed by cloud-based application adoption (20%).
• Technology is changing the industry, and shifting spending priorities are a standout indicator. Mobile solutions (42%) lead technology investment plans for 2014, with cloud-based applications (26%) also on the list.
“As the legal industry continues along its digital path, security will remain a top concern—particularly with the explosion of mobile office workers,” said Rick Stevens, director of enterprise marketing for eFax. “It’s no surprise that fax continues to provide value for the legal profession: whether being sent from or received by a smartphone or tablet, fax remains incomparable in terms of speed, security and portability.”
Eye on Legal Technology Survey Methodology
The study was conducted by eFax Corporate between April 1-7, 2014. The survey highlights data from 360 respondents in the legal vertical, including attorneys in corporate, criminal, specialty (personal injury, family law), and government law, as well as paralegals or IT executives in the legal industry. Company sizes ranged from sole practitioner to companies with over 500 employees: 32% of respondents were from organizations with more than 100 employees, and over half of such organizations have more than 500 employees. Respondents were 56% male and 44% female, from a variety of regions across the United States. For more information on the survey and to see the raw data, please visit http://images.response.j2global.com/Web/j2GlobalInc/%7b6ba79483-b15b-4920-a51a-8911f5a3c7f3%7d_eFC_Legal_Survey_raw_data_April_2014.pdf