As legal departments and law firms are navigating through the difficult terrain set forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to understand the existing trends that were already underway in legal departments and the challenges and business development opportunities they present for law firms.
We are thrilled to share UniCourt CEO, Josh Blandi’s latest article that was recently published in LegalBusinessWorld’s eMagazine. In his article, Legal Department Trends Expose Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Law Firms, Josh shares insights from the Altman Weil 2019 Chief Legal Officer Survey, which details that legal departments are facing increasing workloads along with demands to do more with less, and that they’re responding by insourcing work, using technology for enhanced efficiency, and cutting costs through using alternative legal services providers and lower cost firms.
After discussing these trends impacting legal departments, Josh also shares what this means for law firms with three key takeaways: law firms need to ensure that their own house is in order technology-wise; they need to have a data strategy that meets their clients needs, and they need to have the right people at the table speaking to clients like knowledge management, legal operations, and legal technology professionals.
Here below is an excerpt from the introduction of Josh’s article:
Across the board, legal departments face increasing budgetary pressures and are responding by insourcing legal services, maximizing efficiency through technology, utilizing non-law firm vendors, and moving to lower-cost law firms. These are a couple of the key findings of Altman Weil’s 2019 Chief Legal Officer Survey.
As in-house lawyers and legal operations teams find themselves increasingly buried in work, the need for better legal services solutions and workflows is becoming more pronounced. And as this need continues to trend upwards, it provides a distinct opportunity for forward-thinking firms to solidify their standing with long-time clients and expand their market share to new corporate clients looking for collaborative, data-driven, and cost-minded firms.
In this article, we’ll review key statistics from the 2019 Chief Legal Officer Survey and discuss the challenges and business development opportunities they present for law firms in 2020 and beyond.
The Trends: Increased Workloads, Technology Usage, and Cost Cutting
The Chief Legal Officer Survey highlights a recent trend for in-house staffing: Legal teams have increased in size and are continuing to grow due to a rising demand for their services from their business counterparts. As the graphs below indicate, more than one third of legal departments intend to increase their staff of in-house lawyers in 2020. Of those, 61% said they would do so to cover increased overall workload.
In tandem with this increase in workload, in-house counsel are taking on more and more roles to fill growing business needs, often wearing multiple hats rather than specializing. This change is pushing in-house counsel to become more reactive matter managers trying to handle a ballooning matter volume, as opposed to operating in a proactive advisory stance. This is where enterprising law firms come in.
With in-house counsel drowning in an ever-growing sea of matters, law firms should position themselves to act as collaborative partners, ready and willing to take on the added work in-house counsel are being forced to handle. By seizing on this surplus of work and highlighting their ability to manage it systematically and more efficiently than overworked in-house counsel, law firms can seek to carve out profitable niches. In doing so, they also will prove their value by releasing the pressure valve on in-house counsel, who can act as their future champions should their outside spend come under scrutiny.