Judging by all the press BigLaw gets, it’s easy to assume that large law firms are the only firms succeeding in 2018. But guess what? They’re not. Nowadays, small firm lawyers – from boutique law firms to general practice firms – are giving them a run for their money, in large part due to their innovative use of new and emerging technologies, including online marketing, mobile computing, and cloud-based legal software.
This is borne out by the results of the ABA’s 2017 Legal Technology Survey, which show that for small firm lawyers, investing in technology is of paramount import. According to the survey results, 29% of small law firms with 2-9 attorneys reported that legal practice management software was their top technology spending priority, followed by hardware for the office at 27%, and marketing technology at 14%.
Because technology is so important to their success, those same small law firms are also investing in hardware to position their firms for future success with 26% spending $1,000-$2,999, 20% spending $3,000- $4,999, and 20% spending $5,000-$9,999.
This continued focus on technology investment is occurring because small firm lawyers know that technology is the great leveler. Prior to the advent of cloud computing, many of the most powerful software tools were server-based and incredibly costly, and thus were out of reach for small law firms. As a result, most small law firms were unable to take advantage of cutting edge law practice management tools since premise-based computing – where the business owns and maintains the servers and software – has always been an extremely costly endeavor.
Enter cloud computing. Suddenly small law firms had affordable access to powerful and innovative legal software. For starters, they were able to use legal practice management tools to streamline their law firms and run them more effectively. Another benefit was the ability to outsource computing and IT responsibilities. When law firms use web-based software, their data is securely stored on servers owned and maintained by a third party, thus relieving lawyers of the burden of practicing law and maintaining and running the firm’s IT systems. It effectively takes one more thing off the plates of small firm lawyers and allows them to focus on what they do best: representing their clients.
By taking advantage of increasingly affordable technology platforms, small-firm lawyers are thriving in the midst of an ever-changing and competitive legal landscape. For example, the results of the 2018 Citi Hildebrandt Client Advisory show that greatest successes in the prior year were found in the largest and the smallest law firms. As explained by the authors of the report:
In 2016 and thus far in 2017, we saw firms with strong brand names outperform the market. Interestingly, in the same period, we saw this phenomenon manifest itself at both ends of the market, as a number of the largest firms in the market and the smallest (many of them boutique firms) capitalized on their brand names, producing stronger results than mid-market firms.
The recently released 2018 Martindale Legal Compensation Report offers further evidence that small law firms are flourishing. According to the Report, small-firm attorneys earned an average of $226,000 in 2017. And, the top three compensated practice areas were intellectual property ($240k/year), personal injury ($237K/year), and employment law ($225K/year).
What about your law firm? Is it positioned for success in 2018? Is your firm already taking advantage of the latest legal technology tools or is there room for improvement? Rest assured, your small law firm can compete and thrive in 2018.
Not sure where to start? Download one of our FREE guides – written by well-known legal technology and law practice management experts – today! Learn all about choosing the right legal software for your law firm, so that you can automate your law practice and communicate and collaborate with ease. In no time flat you’ll be well on your way to reaping the benefits of an efficient, streamlined technology-driven law practice.