What’s in store for law firms this year? Our team of experts gathered a few trends we believe legal professionals should keep top-of-mind this year when dealing with challenges like the economy, changing client expectations, growth and decline of practice areas, and retaining and attracting talent. These challenges present great opportunities for the resilient midsize law firms across the globe to adapt and thrive.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Everyone’s talking about AI, yet most firms are still a little hesitant to use any free generative AI tools like ChatGPT. When paired with your base technology and automated workflows that use intuitive automation, AI can enable firms to enhance operations, improve customer experience, and gain a competitive edge. There are risks associated with using AI, such as security of data and private company or customer details, plagiarism, copyright infringement, misinformation, bias and discrimination, and other legal ethics, so it’s important to protect and secure data properly to limit risk of breaching confidentiality guidelines and attorney-client privilege.
Cybersecurity and Data Management
We expect more midsize law firms to invest in the security of their systems, networks, and programs against digital attacks and security threats like attacks on AI systems, multi-factor faking, more sophisticated ransomware attacks, and other data breach scenarios. In fact, The American Bar Association’s 2023 Cybersecurity TechReport states 29% of respondents reported their law firm has experienced a security breach at some point and in 2023, three of the top 50 law firms had been breached in the US, UK, and France which raises alarms for midsize law firms.
Law firms can’t afford to have any type of security breach and need to take the necessary steps to prevent these instances. This includes implementing security systems and ensuring all tools your firm uses has up-to-date security measures, conduct regular audits of security policies to ensure they comply with the latest standards, and conduct training programs for staff members.
Intuitive Automation (IA)
Midsize law firms need to embrace intuitive automation to stay competitive in 2024. Intuitive automation uses smart technology to connect tasks and processes that make work easier and more intuitive for the human user. Before implementing IA, you must pinpoint opportunities for automation like tasks that are repetitive and time consuming, where your firm experiences bottlenecks, or getting negative feedback from clients. Firms should also think about what processes would be a good fit for automation. For example, simple tasks performed without little thought or problem tasks that require some problem solving are great candidates for intuitive automation. Whereas judgement tasks and fuzzy tasks that require intelligent analysis and there are interdependencies among various paths should probably not be automated.
Incorporating intuitive automation can benefit law firms significantly when it’s truly woven across their technology ecosystem using the right tools and data needed. With IA, your workflows will help your team provide faster case initiation and processing, enhance data accuracy and consistency, improve client satisfaction and loyalty, and increase staff productivity and resource optimization.
Law firm clients today are more tech-savvy and better informed than ever before which is resulting in higher expectations of midsize law firms. To provide the best client experience, firms need to be able to provide better communication, more transparency, high-quality work, all at the best price. Midsize law firms even say improving client satisfaction is a top contribution to revenue in 2024. In order to provide the best service for clients, without the risk of burnout, law firms can set clear expectations with clients early on, leverage technology efficiently, and reduce administrative work.
In our recently published 2024 Australian Midsize Law Firm Priorities Report, enhancing client satisfaction was the third top business priority, after finding new revenue streams and talent recruitment and retention. However, a mere 27% have documented client standards, 18% have client feedback sessions, and only 15% provide client service training to their teams. This discrepancy spotlights an opportunity for law firms to actively invest in training, client standards, and technology to ensure positive, consistent client experiences.
Talent Recruitment and Retention
Midsize law firms need to provide their team of law firm professionals with the resources, flexibility, and connectivity they want in 2024. Law firm professionals working at midsize law firms in the US and Australia have been experiencing high levels of stress due to understaffing, lack of resources, and long hours which is resulting in more turnover. In 2024 we see law firms focusing on finding ways to retain their top talent and recruit new talent by promoting ways they support their employees in relieving stress. This includes mental health resources, team building exercises, supportive leadership, and investing in technology that helps lessen the workload through automation and ease.
In 2024, midsize law firms will need to continue doing more with less when competing with bigger firms that have more resources. There are savvy ways these firms can embrace new technologies to automate processes and tasks, attract and retain talent, and improve the client experience so they can focus on scaling and growing their firm.