While we may not yet know the long-term viability of remote work in legal, a new MyCase Survey confirms that remote work has accelerated legal’s use of the cloud. And remote work tools and the use of the cloud have led legal professionals to the greater use of technology and an appreciation for what it can do.
At its first-ever customer conference yesterday, the practice management company MyCase announced the results of its inaugural Survey. The Survey is entitled MyCase 2021 Legal Industry Report: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic. The goal of the Survey was to look at how the pandemic has affected law firms and their operations. More importantly, the Survey shows how the pandemic and remote work has affected their use of and comfort with technology and change.
The results, while not exactly surprising, do merit a look. The key takeaway for me: remote work is driving lasting technological change. A change that may outlast the phenomenon of remote work itself.
First, the breadth of the Survey: MyCase talked to over 2000 legal professionals between August 31, 2021, and September 9, 2021. 47% were partners, 11% were associates, 22% were paralegals, 7% were office managers. Pretty good cross-section. More importantly, the respondents primarily came from small to mid-size law firms. 45% were from firms with two-five lawyers, 33% were solos, 12% were from firms of six-ten lawyers. A good snapshot of what’s going on in firms of these smaller sizes.
The cloud is now the norm
The main finding: remote work here to stay. No secret there. But looking at numbers does reveal some interesting facts. The second main finding: the cloud is now the norm. In my view, both will drive the future of law as lawyers and law firms become more comfortable with tech and see its advantages.
As an initial question, the Survey looked at firm reopenings: some 82% of the surveyed firms say they have already “reopened.” That percentage is a little surprisingly high, at least to me, although not sure what “reopening” means in the context of the Survey.
The data is a little more revealing, though, when looking at how reopening firms treat remote work. First: while remote work may be here to stay to some extent, there is not a great appetite among firms for full-time remote work. Only 53% of the surveyed firms say they will allow full-time remote work down the road. That’s not that large.
70%, on the other hand, say they will still allow some remote work as their offices reopen. The big question is whether these firms are saying this because they want to attract and maintain talent in a hot job market. A bigger question is whether they will continue to allow full or even partial remote work if we ever get “back to normal.”
Remote Working Tools And Cloud Computing
A more interesting and long-lasting trend may be what remote work is driving: a greater use of and comfort with the cloud and technology, in general.
The surveyed firms recognized and reported greater efficiencies and value from the technology tools they are using about which MyCase asked. And this can only translate to greater future use.
And the big winner was cloud computing. The battle with on-prem is over. 88% of the surveyed firms (keep in mind that the firms surveyed skewed toward small) now recognize the value of using the cloud, whereas 76% did before the pandemic. This enhanced cloud use, in turn, opens up all sorts of tech options.
And lawyers are liking what their remote working tools can do for them
And lawyers are liking what their remote working tools can do for them: 73% say these tools have increased their overall productivity.
MyCase assessed the use by surveyed firms of the following tech tools since the pandemic:
- Document management tools (most of those surveyed agree these are big-time savers)
- Document assembly tools (most recognize these tools save significant time)
- Document sharing and collaboration tools (most agree these tools did make it easier to collaborate)
- Collaboration tools
- Secure communication and client portals (the Survey reports that text messaging is on the rise)
- Internal law firm communication tools (the majority of law firms now use internal chat tools)
- Law firm profitability and growth tools (valuable say most)
- Time tracking tools (81% of the surveyed firms now use time tracking tools)
- Legal billing software (87% of the firms now use)
- Online payment processing software (more than half of the firms believed they collected more money from using this software).
- Lead management and intake tools (firms using these tools captured significantly more leads)
- eSignature tools (67% say these tools saved time)
- Online payment for consultation tools (72% accept payment via credit card)
In short, firms and lawyers are seeing the value tech can bring. Since lawyers have had to work remotely, they now have a greater appreciation for tech. They have actually seen what technology can do. And as a result, lawyers are no doubt more accepting of it.
Remote work has driven lawyers to the cloud. Remote work and the cloud have driven lawyers to use more tech
So what are the key points from this inaugural Survey by MyCase: remote work has driven lawyers to the cloud. Remote work and the cloud have driven lawyers to use more tech. And they like what this use does for them.
So this may be a lasting change. As the Report concludes, “One of the top findings from this Survey was that the pandemic was the tipping point needed to greatly accelerate law firm technology adoption.”