Technologies, particularly smartphones and tablets, have changed the way in which lawyers across Scotland operate. Remember when lawyers didn’t use email ? Not it’s commonplace.
An interesting insight into the impact, which technologies are having on the Scottish legal community has come from a Law Scotland of Scotland study.
Entitled, “Perceptions and Impacts of Working Patterns within the Legal Profession in Scotland”, the new research builds upon the 2013 “Profile of the Profession” study, and involved both group and telephone interviews with solicitors across Scotland.
The report states that the technology actually adds to the culture of long hours in our profession:
“Technology was seen to contribute to this increased workload. In particular, smartphone devices with push technology activated was seen as a significant driver of additional hours and a reduction in an acceptable work/life balance.
“Solicitors reported persistently receiving emails outwith office hours, along with an expectation, both by clients and their firm or organisation that they will respond instantly. Feelings of not being able to switch off and being permanently tied to the office were commonplace.
That said, the report makes it clear that technology, such as technological advancements with video conferencing, and also the development of the cloud, which allows user to access files remotely, increases efficiency, productivity, staff motivation and allows for more flexible working patterns.
Commenting, Neil Stevenson, the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Representation and Support, stated:
“We wanted to test whether technology was helping create a more level playing field for those working flexibly or on reduced hours, or whether it was helping the ‘alphas’ in the profession, whether male or female, work even longer hours…
“…The Profile of the Profession survey provided valuable insights into the legal profession and how it is working as a whole but it was largely quantitative.
“This report builds on that by giving a much more detailed understanding of the issues facing those working full-time, part-time, condensed hours and home working.
“It’s evident that the huge change in technology and access has not always been fully supported by training, support, and guidance on working practices. Feeling constantly on call is now a key cause of stress in the profession, and may not even be what clients or employers really intend.
“It is worth all employers regularly discussing how the most intrusive aspects of technology can be reduced. Many of the ideas in the report are worth exploring further and would not necessarily have significant cost implications.”
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