Clients Driving Adoption, Am Law Tech Survey Finds

by | Feb 29, 2016

Clients Driving Adoption Am Law Tech Survey Finds

Just a few months ago, Legaltech News provided in-depth coverage of the 2015 Am Law Tech Survey an annual report by the ALM publishing business.  The publication focused on three key areas of legal tech:

  • cybersecurity and privacy
  • law firm technology adoption
  • cloud adoption

Interestingly, a common theme throughout the survey was the influence clients, or corporate counsel, is having on the adoption of legal tech in law firms.  Here’s a look at the Legaltech coverage of the survey, and the data points suggesting the state of the collective legal tech mind.

BYOD and Law Firm Cybersecurity

The rise of mobile devices isn’t fundamentally different than the previous advent of laptop adoption, according to experts Legaltech News interviewed for an article titled, Balancing Risk and Reward in BYOD Policies.

They key question in BYOD, is “When a firm puts its information on a device that it doesn’t own, in many instances, it may not have the right or capability to manage that data,” the article reports citing Pedro Pavon, CIPP/US, senior corporate counsel at Oracle.

Some of the high-level mobile statistics stemming from the report include:

  • Widespread mobile adoption. According to the survey, law firms widely issued mobile devices to both staff and attorneys:
    • 71% of partners
    • 67% of non-partner attorneys
    • 80% of executives and managers
  • Benefit of better client service. Better client service (36%), improved productivity (29%) and greater flexibility (24%) were the benefits law firms cited for mobile device deployment.
  • MDM as risk mitigation. More than 80% of law firms use master data management (MDM) tools to reduce cyber security risks. “Anecdotally, the experts we spoke to indicated that such platforms can mitigate the vast majority of threats associated with mobile device access,” according to the publication.

Also see: Infographic Friday:  6 Key Questions about BYOD

Clients Driving Law Firm Tech Adoption

An overwhelming majority (95%) of respondents to the survey believe law firms are making the right technology decisions.  Law firm technologists are well compensated for facilitating those decisions too. The survey found salaries “for top technology executives topped $300,000 at 77 percent of these firms” according to an article titled Legal Tech Traction Breeds Satisfaction.

These numbers inched up from the same survey last year though the author interviews several legal tech leaders who all generally point to corporate counsel as the catalyst for shifting tide of legal technology.

“Industry-wise, I think it’s probably about the fact that there are many more pressures now competitively. The market’s not growing as much now as it has in the past, which puts new demands on us to be more efficient and innovative in serving our clients,” the article says citing Craig Dean, chief technology officer at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

The sentiment echoes thoughts D. Casey Flaherty previously shared in a post titled, Legal Tech Evolution: Discomfort and Lasting Relationships:

“For the most part, I put the responsibility on clients. Legal has been a buyers’ market for quite some time. Deficiencies are for buyers to remedy through the power of the purse. To the extent the market is not changing, clients have themselves to blame.

 Firms, however, can still initiate structured dialogue. They don’t. Neither side likes uncomfortable conversations. Yet the ability to have uncomfortable conversations and address the root cause of the discomfort is an important element of lasting relationships. Firms can’t force clients to care. But firms can, at least, gauge their client’s interest in having the conversation.”

Also see: Tech Savvy as a Source of Law Firm Innovation

The Law Cloud is no Fad

Are law firms embracing the cloud?  The majority of respondents said yes this year for the first time by slim margin of 51% “yes” to 49% “no” according to a Legaltech article written by D. Casey Flaherty titled E-Discovery Disruption and the Field of Challengers.

“The cloud is not a fad,” he wrote.

Indeed, the trend shows no sign of slowing. Some 65% said “they were using the cloud more while 35 percent responded that their cloud usage was the same.”  Likewise, the article revealed similar numbers with respect to satisfaction.  None of the respondents said they were using the cloud less, and none of the respondents found the cloud “disappointing.”

A separate Legaltech News article – Closing the Cloud Computing Gap – examining a different aspect of the data points suggests corporate clients are again the driving force behind technology adoption:

“According to the survey, 62 percent of firms have invested in SaaS-based services for e-discovery and/or litigation support—a trend driven by corporate clients looking for greater flexibility and cost savings, says Steve Ashbacher, vice president of litigation solutions with the LexisNexis software and technology business.

Client expectations for collaborative services, combined with efficiency, accessibility and lower total cost are in large part driving law firm migration to cloud-based services.

‘We find that law firms, driven by their corporate clients, are looking for flexibility in how they approach e-discovery management,’ Ashbacher explains. ‘As a result, litigation software vendors need to provide scalable solutions to meet the demands for every case.’”

The article says the survey found the biggest barriers to cloud adoption are:

  • 86% say security concerns;
  • 61% worry about control of the data;
  • 35% said the cost savings of adoption are high enough

Security and confidentiality of data were also the top concerns cited by 279 practicing attorneys in small law firms in a survey the LexisNexis Firm Manager® team conducted in 2014.  Mobility and freedom of access, along with disaster recovery were the top benefits cited in that study.

Also see: 3 Ways the Cloud is Changing eDiscovery

* * *

The publisher reported that 79 law firms that responded to the 2015 Am Law Tech survey, “which polled firm leaders and technologists at the nation’s largest law firms.”  The full survey report is available for purchase on the ALM website.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
9 Neatly Organized LexisNexis Reports and Studies from 2015

Photo credit: Flickr, David Salafia, driving (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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