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Fantastic opportunity for 1/3 of Small Law Firms

Posted by Gene Turner on 04-Sep-2016 13:41:03


I found this recent blog by Robert Ambrogi fascinating: More Exclusive Survey Results: Few Small Firms Implementing New Technology. In it he reviews findings of a new survey of small-solo law firm management in the United Stated conducted by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group, to which he has been given exclusive access. The survey covered firms of 1-29 lawyers, which would be the size of most law firms in New Zealand (85% of which have 5 or fewer lawyers).

The results showed that two-thirds of firms will implement no changes in technology for at least a two-year span. Supporting this, only a quarter of small firms say they will spend more on technology and infrastructure, while 72% say their spend will remain the same, and 4% say they will spend less. More optimistically, this could indicate that it is increasingly becoming possible to access great technology, via the cloud, much more cheaply than used to be the case, but I don’t think that is what they meant!

When you break down the technology that small firms are using even further, very little of it is really revolutionary, with the five most common forms of technology currently in use being (in order of use) case/matter management (11%); time and billing; document management; e-billing and document drafting tools (7%).

Those that are planning to adopt new technology are looking at case/matter management (10%); document or form assembly/automation (7%), Customer Relationship Management etc. (6%), document drafting tools (5%) and document management (5%). All good stuff, but not exactly earth shattering.

Robert Ambrogi concludes that except for time and billing, the majority of solos are not using several key types of legal technology. While there may be a good reason for this, he says he can’t think of it!

What does this mean?

I’d like to think that the New Zealand legal market is more advanced than what appears to be the case in the USA, but what if it isn’t? There are a lot of lawyers in the ADLS legal directory who appear to not have a website and/or to be using an xtra or Gmail type email address which is not a good sign. Does this general complacency indicate that there is obviously no problem and no urgency for other lawyers to move?

I would strongly say no. Whether or not other lawyers are adopting technology should not stop you from adopting it yourself. The biggest threats to small and medium sized law firms could well lie outside of your existing competitors, from new entrants who see opportunities in the NZ$3bn per annum legal market.

And also consider the opportunity this gives you. A high level of general apathy is actually a fantastic opportunity for 1/3 of the smaller law firms (or those thinking of setting up a small firm) who move now. Not only can you protect yourself against those new entrants, but if you are ambitious for your practice, now is the time you can take advantage and gain market share from those who are slow to move by genuinely being able to work faster and better than they can.

There is a lot of technology lawyers can start using immediately. If you’re interested in how you can use legal technology, but don’t know where to begin, download this free eBook, which discusses 51 technology options that law firms could begin using today to change the way they work.

Topics: Practise of Law

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