With each passing year, our lives – driven by technological advancements – seem to move faster. For the average person, it’s hard to keep up. It’s even more difficult for lawyers who are busy running their law practices and are tasked with representing clients, staying on top of changes in the law, and managing their law firms.
That’s why it’s so important for busy attorneys to set priorities at the beginning of each year. By identifying their areas of focus for the upcoming year, it makes it easier to implement plans to reach goals, including purchasing new technology and learning how to use it to streamline the back end of their law firms. One way to make those decisions is to attend legal technology conferences such as ABA Techshow, which is being held next week in Chicago. There, lawyers can learn all about the latest technology and software.
As a company that provides law practice management software designed to help lawyers increase efficiency and save time and money, ABA Techshow is one of our favorite legal technology conferences. It’s a great place for solo and small firm lawyers to research and learn about the latest legal software and technology. And it’s a great place for us to learn more about our customers and their challenges.
But, what exactly are lawyers focused on in 2017? What are their goals and concerns? Because we’re so interested in learning more about lawyers’ goals and challenges when it comes to running their law firms, we’re always looking for new opportunities to understand the law practice management challenges lawyers face. So when we were offered the opportunity to partner with Above the Law to survey lawyers and learn what they planned to do in 2017 to modernize their law firms, we jumped at the chance. It was a great way to prepare for ABA Techshow and to gain a better understanding of our customers’ biggest challenges.
As part of the survey, lawyers were asked:
- What will you do in 2017 to modernize your law firm?
- What is the biggest challenge at your law firm?
Nearly 650 lawyers responded to the survey from firms of all sizes. The largest numbers of respondents (52%) were from firms of 20 or more lawyers, followed by solo lawyers (18%), firms with 2-5 lawyers (13%), firms with 5-10 lawyers (11%), and mid-sized firms with 10-20 lawyers (6%).
When asked about the steps they would take in 2017 to modernize their firms, going paperless was the most popular response, at 21%. Other responses included revamping the firm’s website (18%), followed by investing in legal practice management software (10%), moving to the cloud (8%), and accepting online payments from legal clients (3%). Solo and small firm lawyers were the most likely to take steps to accept online payments in 2017 (10%), while larger firm lawyers prioritized revamping their firm’s website (44%). Another area of focus for solo and small firm lawyers was investing in law practice management software, with 32% reporting that was a priority in the coming year.
The responses to the challenges faced by lawyers were particularly enlightening. By far, the biggest hurdles lawyers encountered were managing their workload (19%) and bringing in new business (16%). In some ways, these responses were counter-intuitive, but the responses to these pressures clearly varied by firm size, with 26% of solos reporting difficulties obtaining clients, compared to only 13% of large firm lawyers. In comparison, 21% of large firm lawyers reported issues managing their workload, while only 14% of solos did. So it’s readily apparent that large firm lawyers and solos encounter very different challenges in their day-to-day practices.
Other common issues that lawyers reported facing in their practices included communicating with clients (8%), tracking time and billing (7%), managing case files (7%), choosing the right technology (6%), and getting paid (4%). Interestingly, getting paid was the most difficult for solo attorneys, with 8% reporting this was a hurdle they faced. Mid-sized firms with 10-20 lawyers were next at 5%, followed by firms with 5-10 lawyers at 4%. Large and small firms reported less of an issue with collecting payment, with large firms at 3% and small firms with 2-5 lawyers at 2%.
Finally, last, but certainly not least, when asked about law practice management software, 24% reported they currently used it, while 18% reported they were actively researching their options. Solo and small firm lawyers lead the way with 28% of lawyers from firms with 5-10 lawyers indicating that they were researching legal practice management software, followed by solo lawyers at 25%, and 24% of lawyers from firms with 2-5 lawyers.
And what better place to explore legal practice management software for solo and small firms than ABA Techshow next week in Chicago? MyCase will be exhibiting at booth #500, so stop by and check us out. Even if you won’t be attending ABA Techshow, you can still give MyCase a test drive. Sign up for a free trial and see if it’s the right case management software for your busy law practice.
And in the meantime, meet some of the the MyCase team members who will be at Techshow. We gave away 2 free tickets to Techshow last week (that contest is now over) and are really excited to head to Chicago next week! Hope to see you at Techshow!