ABA releases survey on legal tech trends

The American Bar Association Legal Technology Resource Center recently began releasing its ABA TechReport 2022, a publication exploring how attorneys are using technology in their practices.

TechReport 2022 combines data from the annual Legal Technology Survey Report with expert analysis, observations and predictions from legal technology leaders.

Separated into eight different articles on technology topics, TechReport 2022 covers prominent areas in technology that lawyers face today. The survey reports focus on issues relating to technology use, not product use.
Examples of statistical information included in the annual survey report are:

• Fifty-six percent of all respondents regularly use free internet/online services for legal research, and 29% occasionally use this resource. Four percent of respondents report that they never use free online services for legal research. Among the respondents that report regularly using free internet/online services for legal research, 65% are from firms of 100 or more attorneys, 61% are from firms of 10-49 attorneys, 58% are from solo firms and 45% are from firms of 2-9 attorneys.

• Respondents were asked to select their firm’s top technology spending priority over the next 12 months. The largest percentage of respondents selected hardware for the office (28%), followed by security (20%), mobile technology (11%) and litigation technology (10%). Among small firms of 2-9 attorneys, 25% report spending $1,000-$2,999 annually on hardware and 20% report spending $3,000-$4,900 on hardware. Fifty-seven percent of firms with 10-49 attorneys report they “don’t know” how much they spend on hardware followed by 17% that reported they spent between $10,000-$20,000, and 13% spent more than $20,000 on hardware annually.

• Only 14% of respondents said that their law firm’s website offered the ability to schedule a consultation. Smaller firms are more likely to report that potential clients can schedule a consultation through their website, including 20% from firms of 2-9 lawyers, 17% from firms of 10-49 lawyers and 14% of solo practitioners.

• Live chat, a feature becoming increasingly common on all kinds of websites from banks to retailers, is rarely offered on law firm websites. According to this year’s survey, 80% of respondents’ firms do not offer live chat, and only 3% were sure that their firm’s site offered it. Of those who do offer it, live chat is most commonly handled by a virtual receptionist (63%), followed by 25% who said that an in-house receptionist handles live chat. Attorneys and paralegals each handle live chat in 13% of respondents’ firms.

The TechReport articles are running on Wednesdays through January 2023. Topics include:

• Litigation and TAR
• Technology Training
• Websites and Marketing
• Budgeting and Planning
• Practice Management
• Solo and Small Firm
• Cloud Computing
• Cybersecurity

The Legal Technology Survey Report, started more than two decades ago by the ABA Law Practice Division, is recognized as the primary source for information regarding the use of technology by attorneys in private practice. It is based on responses by practicing lawyers — not consultants, vendors or IT staff.

The survey report is separated into five volumes, including a combined edition, and is available for sale at shopaba.org:

• Vol. I: Online Research
• Vol. II: Technology Basics & Security
• Vol. III: Law Office Technology
• Vol. IV: Marketing & Communication Technology
• Vol. V: Litigation Technology & E-Discovery

The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (www.americanbar.org/groups/departments_offices/legal_technology_resources) is dedicated to helping legal professionals leverage technology to overcome obstacles, identify opportunities and improve their practices.