Written by:

Grant Yuill

Head of Marketing & Customer Engagement

In this post, we looked at how the combined forces of growth and challenges affect the legal scene in 2024, as law firms around the world adapt to economic changes and rapid technology advancements, including leveraging AI for legal teams. The industry faces uncertainties, particularly in fields such as estate agency legislation. Client growth, inflation management, and prioritising employee well-being while not compromising on litigation process standards, are among the challenges that law firms face, forcing them to change their strategy. 

The article points out the importance of technology, specifically Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, in improving operational efficiency and client happiness. The increasing reliance on SaaS vendors encourages legal firms to recognise the value of faster operations, such as document management systems and artificial intelligence for document review. However it also creates integration issues so strategic planning may be required to align tasks for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Marketing dynamics are changing with a strong emphasis on client growth and retention. While referrals remain important, the industry’s gradual shift towards digital marketing shows a recognition of a more integrated approach. The article emphasises the increasing popularity of technology and the difficulty of managing multiple software systems. It stresses the importance of seamless integration and a comprehensive strategy for technology adoption.

When choosing SaaS vendors, law firms prioritise ease of use, automation, and workflow capabilities, suggesting a shift towards prioritising functionality and efficiency over cost, with a strong inclination towards generative AI solutions. The change in perspective reflects the industry’s realisation that successful technology adoption necessitates solutions that integrate seamlessly into the firm’s whole process. 

As law firms handle the challenges of 2024 and beyond, deliberate technology adoption, seamless integration, and an emphasis on user-friendly solutions are seen as essential for long-term success in an ever-changing legal environment. 

Now, let’s look at how Legal Case Management Software benefits both clients and law firm staff.

The Major Impact of case management systems on client satisfaction

Another major conclusion in the legal sector was highlighted by Denovo stating that case management solutions have a major impact on improving client satisfaction. 

For instance, a remarkable 62% of law firms that used case management systems reported a significant increase in client satisfaction. This statistic represents a significant change in how legal services are supplied and perceived. Adopting these technologies improves several essential components, including remote meetings, client communication, workflow transparency, and up-to-date information on billing processes. 

Placing clients first

These developments are about more than simply technology; they also affect how law firms connect with their clients. The case management solutions enable more constant and effective communication, keeping clients informed and engaged throughout their legal journey. As every practicing lawyer knows, this degree of involvement and is especially important in a world where demands for prompt and honest communication are continuously rising.

Improve workflows to focus more on substantial aspects of work

Furthermore, the streamlined processes enabled by these platforms will empower legal professionals to concentrate on the substantive aspects of their legal work rather than becoming mired down in administrative activities. This move improves productivity and allows for a more client-centric approach, with the primary focus on meeting the client’s legal needs. In a sector where valuable billable hours are sometimes lost to time-consuming administrative tasks, effective legal operations are also quite beneficial.

Improving client perception

Integrating case management systems has an important effect on clients’ perceptions of legal firms, especially when those systems automate key functions and incorporate analytics for better insight. Firms that adopt this technology are seen as more modern, efficient, and client-friendly. This perception is essential in an increasingly competitive legal market where clients’ expectations are increasing.

Denovo also looked at how today’s businesses budget for technology, which is an essential component of their operations. Our survey found a strong connection between a law firm’s size and its technology budget, indicating different approaches and priorities in technology investment.

Size is important

Small firms, especially those with one or two staff, are hesitant about technology spending. Around 85% of these small-scale legal firms spent £8,000 or less each year on software. This budget limitation was most likely caused by insufficient funds and the need to balance different operating costs by keeping some processes in-house. However, it is essential to emphasise that the limited budget did not discourage these firms from adopting technology. They frequently explored cost-effective methods to provide critical services without exceeding their financial resources.

Larger law firms, on the other hand, showed a greater financial commitment to technology. Approximately 30% of mid-sized businesses with ten to twenty employees spend between £16,000 and £40,000 on IT. This trend was even more obvious in businesses with 20 to 50 employees, where around 70% shared the same budgetary category. These organisations’ bigger expenses are likely due to their broader operational scope and the requirement for more sophisticated technological solutions for different legal departments to manage their more complex processes and customer expectations.

The differences in budgeting tactics across law firms of varying sizes illustrates the legal industry’s approach to technology: treating it as an investment rather than an expense.  Size of firm will also be a determining factor in their risk management strategy  when assessing AI adoption and new legal tech. Larger companies tend to view technology spending as a strategic investment that may result in long-term improvements in efficiency, client satisfaction, and competitive advantage. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, focused on using technology to satisfy immediate operational needs while staying within budget.

Resistance to Technology Innovation

Interestingly, despite the changing legal landscape and challenging market conditions, just a few businesses are satisfied with the technological revolution. Indeed, the feedback we’ve had shows that there are varied degrees of resistance to technological innovation, which seemed to be associated more with firm size than anything else.

Smaller Firms

More than half of the smaller firms we spoke to pointed out substantial challenges to using technology. The concern originated from the possible interruption of day-to-day operations, as well as the risk of diverting limited resources – both time and manpower – away from client-focused activities. In these start-up or smaller settings, where every minute and money matters to profitability, adopting new technology was often regarded to be risky and even disruptive to operations.

Medium Firms

Medium-sized businesses (three to nine people) faced similar challenges but with a different focus. While 40% showed concern about delay and resource allocation, 18% expressed fear of the unknown when it came to new systems. The concern was not only about the financial commitment, but also about stepping into unknown technological territory without proven precedent, which could disrupt the firm’s operations and client interactions.

Larger Firms

Larger firms have unique challenges due to their more complicated organisations and diversified practice areas. For such firms, the biggest barrier to technological transformation was the difficulty in training their employees. This difficulty was ranked second only to concerns about disruption. The larger the company, the more difficult the task of teaching people to use new technology proficiently, which often requires a significant amount of time and effort. The investment when staff need to be trained is not only costly, but also time-consuming, which no one appears to have since revenue-generating activities are what keep the company alive.

Of course, we can’t talk about SaaS or any other technology without mentioning the industry’s post-pandemic use of remote and in-office working arrangements. Again, we’ve found diverse trends in how different-sized law firms managed their working arrangements, possibly indicating a broader industry response to changing work habits and technological developments needed by the pandemic.

Work models for small legal firms differed significantly with a range of new and traditional models. Approximately one-third of these firms were entirely remote, using technology to operate without a typical office space. This model has various advantages, including lower overhead expenses and increased flexibility for lawyers and support staff. In contrast, one-third of these small firms remained entirely office-based, favouring the conventional structure and face-to-face interactions of an in-person work environment.

When we consider larger firms, everything changes. For firms with three or more employees, the trend is towards returning to in-office work. Approximately 70% of these organisations now function exclusively from an office setting, a decision that emphasises the importance of collaborative work settings as well as the benefits of direct client interaction. This preference for in-office work is similar across medium-sized and larger firms, demonstrating that operational scale and complexity had a major impact on work chosen models.

The importance of technology, particularly Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, is emphasised. Legal Case Management Software has a transformative impact on firms, notably in terms of increasing client satisfaction by streamlining communication and workflows, allowing legal professionals to focus on the substantive aspects of their work. 

However, law firm technology budgets show a connection between firm size and technology spending techniques, reinforcing the profession’s view of technology as an investment. Resistance to technological change varies for each firm, with worries about delay, resource allocation, and training initiatives. 

By choosing vendors who deliver best-in-class solutions within a platform design, law firms can avoid managing an excessive amount of software, which would consume valuable time. Streamlined integrations would increase efficiency while keeping the total cost of operation down, especially when document management and automation tools are employed in legal practices. When this range of capabilities is combined with ease of use and the support of an onboarding and customer service staff, many of the challenges related to adopting new technology are eliminated. 

As the legal system of 2024 incorporates both traditional methods and innovation, law firms are encouraged to explore Legal Case Management Software to drive growth while addressing various issues.

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