The growing complexity of compliance, new client expectations, talent challenges and productivity demands put legal professionals under great pressure based on the results of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory’s new global survey “Lawyers and Lawyers Facing the Future”. The latter, based on quantitative interviews with 751 legal professionals in law firms and legal departments across the United States and ten European countries, including France, also revealed that additional progress, in particular technological, were necessary, in fact two thirds of legal professionals declared “ not being prepared enough to meet the main challenges and opportunities” of the future.
Technology as a lever for improving performance
To cope with emerging trends and growing demands, legal professionals have increasingly focused on legal technologiesa growth of 79% was thus observed. In Europe and the United States, investment and demand for technological solutions legal accelerated and go continue. Indeed, according to the survey, 64% legal services and 63% law firms will increase their software investments over the next year. Technology is now central to improving performance, productivity, client-firm relationships and talent expectations. She is also a competitiveness factoremployed by companiesmore than 80% of legal professionals say it is very important to them to work for a firm or legal department that is tech-savvy.
Strong new demands
In addition to the issue of readiness for new technologies, the report showed that new and expanding areas of law were other major trends affecting the legal professions. In effect77% of them, placed in this box “emerging and growing areas of compliance, such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) and data confidentiality”. 56% of lawyers and 45% of lawyers then reported a increase of the requests for this advice in ESG matters over the past year and have asserted that their organization is not not prepared enough to keep up.
Talent issues ahead
The impact of the “big resignation” during the previous year was strongly felt. Legal organizations are worried about other problems ahead, especially since 70% of lawyers and 58% of lawyers said they were very or somewhat likely to leave their current position in the next year. Talent renewal is another major constraint given that only 33% of legal departments said they were very prepared for recruit or reinstate legal staff compared to 28% for law firms. A very low figure which intensifies the pressure for the legal professions.
Improved relations between clients and firms
A positive point nevertheless emerged from this survey. Overall, the relationships between clients and practices have improved since before the pandemic 55% of them, but risks of changing consulting firms are on the rise, 32% in 2022 compared to 24% in 2021. For this aspect, technological capabilities again found themselves at the center of the evaluation. Indeed, the main reason why legal services would change offices is that it does not demonstrate efficiency and productivity. But only 38% of lawyers said their current firm uses technology very well to support the latter two points. Yet 91% of legal departments said it would be important to the law firms they use take full advantage of technologyand 97% of them will ask the firms they plan to work with, to describe the technology they use to be more productive and efficient.
The full survey report, which also includes other findings regarding law firms, corporate legal services, technology, talent and trends, as well as special sections on the impact of ESG and insights from leading figures in the legal industry, can be downloaded from Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer 2022.