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ANALYSIS: Lawyers’ Top Legal Tech Tools—And Biggest Blind Spots

May 6, 2022, 9:00 AM

In a new Bloomberg Law survey, nearly 9 out of 10 attorneys reported that legal technology improves the services they provide to clients and is crucial to meeting client demands. However, the survey also identified several barriers to unlocking the full potential of legal technology, likely due to a lack of tech proficiency among the lawyers themselves.

The 2022 Bloomberg Law Legal Operations and Technology Survey asked 190 law firm and in-house attorneys about the use and implementation of legal technology at their organizations, the barriers they faced when using the technology, and the improvements they feel are needed.

Many respondents indicated a lack of tech savvy and familiarity with the technology tools used at their organizations. If left unaddressed, this skill gap will only worsen as legal tech advances, ultimately hindering lawyers’ ability to keep up with innovation in the legal profession.

What Lawyers Are Using (and Not Using)

When asked which of 32 listed legal technology tools their organizations are currently using, the largest share of survey respondents (79%) reported using billing tools. Legal research tools came in second place (70%), followed closely by e-signatures (69%).

Timekeeping (63%), cloud storage (62%), records management (59%), and matter management (53%) tools are used by the majority of respondents as well. This may come as no surprise, given that these tools have been fairly integrated into legal practice for quite some time. And some of them, especially those used for legal research, are typically introduced to students during law school before they even begin practicing.

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Lesser-used legal technology tools include litigation analytics, (only 21% of attorneys selected this tool) and drafting tools (only 10% selected). An alarmingly small number of respondents—only 15%—reported using knowledge management technology, such as taxonomy tools.

When asked to pick the reasons their organization is using said technology, not surprisingly, 86% of respondents reported that legal tech is used to improve their productivity. In second place, 71% cited improving their workflow. And two-thirds of the respondents reported that meeting client or organizational demands (66%) and improving quality of work (65%) were also reasons for using legal tech.

Where the Barriers Are

The top barriers to using legal technologies cited among the respondents were lack of tech savvy, lack of familiarity, and not enough time to learn the technology. (These three barriers topped the list in survey results from 2021 and 2020 as well.)

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When asked whether or not they have received sufficient training on the legal technologies, they’re using, respondents revealed an almost even split: 53% said “yes” and 47% said “no”.

Plus, only 23% of respondents said they have seen an increase in the hours of legal tech training offered by their firms over the past 12 months.

The results suggest that law firms and legal departments are still struggling to break down these barriers and provide sufficient training opportunities for attorneys and staff. In a previous analysis, we provided some solutions that firms can deploy to increase the amount of training provided at their organizations and help overcome these obstacles.

Which Legal Tools Firms Should Embrace

Nearly 50% of respondents reported an overall increase in their organization’s technology spend over the past year. Yet as we saw above, only 23% have seen an increase in training on that technology. This raises the question: Where is the money going? Or rather, where should it be going?

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Matter management, records management, billing, and client relationship management were the most-selected responses when asked where, among the 32 tools, respondents saw a need for new or improved technology. Considering this, law firms and legal departments would be wise to focus on implementing or developing more technology in these areas.

Overall, firms and legal departments should continue to invest in and adopt more legal technologies in order to stay competitive in the market. When it comes to implementation, leadership should consider the learning curve and workflow adjustments needed to ensure a smooth adoption and proper training for their attorneys and staff.

Time is precious (and billable!), so by making sure attorneys dedicate some time to becoming tech-savvy, firms will likely end up saving time in the long run and see an improved workflow and better client service.

Bloomberg Law Subscribers can find related content on our In Focus: Legal Technology, Surveys, Reports & Data Analysis, Legal Operations and In Focus: Lawyer Development resources.

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