- As the legal industry continues to change and find a new equilibrium, technology should enable you to innovate and create the business model you want.
Earlier this month, Actionstep released the results of the 2023 Midsize Law Firm Priorities Report, an inaugural survey of legal and administrative staff from midsize US law firms focused on identifying their key priorities, challenges, goals, and opportunities heading into 2023.
Trends and insights that rose to the top …
Planning for 2023 brings new challenges for midsize law firms in the US, with rising inflation rates and the threat of a recession. Law firms need to make many important business decisions, but this research finds that there is a clear top priority for 2023: revenue. Nearly half (47%) of respondents named “growing revenue or identifying new revenue streams as their top business priority this year.
While almost all legal professionals reported that they enjoy aspects of their work, stress is still an issue. Almost three-quarters (72%) of legal professionals report that they have experienced stress, felt burnout, or been overwhelmed by work in the past year.
The specific causes of stress among law firm employees vary, but legal professionals in our study cite understaffing or lack of resources (44%) as the top factor contributing to their stress at work in the past year, followed closely by demand or pressure from clients (42%).
It’s clear that stress continues to be a major concern for law firms. One very interesting finding from our data suggests remote work may have a positive impact on stress levels. This survey included employees who never worked from home to some who only worked from home, and everything in between. Overall, about half worked remotely more than a quarter of the time, and this group of employees was far less likely to report experiencing stress, burnout, or being overwhelmed in the past year (64% vs. 82%) than reported by employees who rarely work remotely.
Issues with being understaffed or lacking resources have been particularly difficult for midsize law firms to address during recent tight labor markets. Hiring new employees isn’t always an option, and getting new staff up-to-speed with a firm’s systems and processes can take a long time, leaving other staff to pick up the slack and take on extra work.
How can firms deal with this extra pressure? The problem is complex, but technology can help law firms do more with less. Check out our article “How Legaltech Can Help Law Firms Navigate the Current Labor Shortage” to learn more.
Legal staff are much more likely to say they are affected by understaffing or lack of resources and demand or pressure from clients than administrative support roles. Conversely, administrative roles are more likely to say they are stressed by team or firm culture issues, not having clear processes in place to follow, and a lack of support from leadership. Ultimately, these insights can help your firm ensure you’re appropriately addressing the needs of legal and administrative support staff—rather than taking a “one size fits all” approach.
Law firms must have an effective way to communicate, store, and share confidential information with clients, and inadequate technology can have a huge impact on the client experience. This graph shows how respondents perceive tech’s importance to specific aspects of their work:
It’s clear that tech has an impact on almost every facet of legal work, from profitability to client satisfaction. Your law firm’s ability to grow is critical to your long-term success, and as our research revealed, technology is a key piece of that puzzle. As the legal industry continues to change and find a new equilibrium, technology should enable you to innovate and create the business model you want.