What lies ahead for the legal sector in 2018?

The legal sector is changing – in an industry that is traditionally relatively robust, law firms are now finding their profits under pressure and chargeable hours falling. Cyber risks and business continuity are increasingly worrying for law firms.

We have summarised the main findings from surveys into the legal sector conducted by Meridian West, PWC and Briefing magazine.

Looking ahead to 2018 there are three key topics dominating the legal sector

Technology, Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The top priority for law firms in 2018 is the improved use of technology which is supported by firms employing specialists in data and analytics and digital and emerging technologies.
When it comes to IT, 39% of law firms will be investing in Practice Management Systems and 23% into cloud systems and mobility. Although Artificial Intelligence is the buzz word du jour, 76% of senior marketers in the legal sector do not feel prepared to address the impact of automation and AI at this stage.
The majority of respondents agreed that there is huge potential for automation to improve their business, with Finance being the support function most likely to be automated.
In summary – embracing new technologies is on everyone’s agenda but not enough is being done to use these as a competitive advantage.

Risk

With increased reports of cyber-attacks and a higher awareness of data privacy, not least due to the impending GDPR, these topics now feature high on board agendas.
Only 14% of law firms surveyed by Meridian West believe that Brexit will have a positive effect on them, with the remainder of responses stating that they believe it will have no impact, or a negative effect on their firm.

Pricing and Efficiency

PwC’s research suggests that pricing and efficiency needs to be addressed in law firms by embracing relevant technologies, investing in staff training and a more controlled approach to pricing decisions.
Forbes says ‘Firms must sell smarter, reduce delivery cost and improve quality of service.
Smarter selling means knowing clients, prospects and industries in more depth – an exercise in increasing networking, CRM, business and sales skills and knowledge.
Reducing delivery cost requires better utilization by delegating to lower cost lawyers, developing and sticking to budgets, boosting efficiency with technology, improving law practice process and deploying effective knowledge management.
Better service means shifting to, or further utilizing, an external perspective to develop a keener focus on what clients need, from crisper answers to value-add services such as online offerings.’

What all of these trends have in common is the need for a supportive function to assist with sales, business development and marketing. We can create customer-centric marketing strategies which align with your overall company objectives and suggest practical tactics to help you improve your client experience.

Read the full article by Forbes here.

If you have any further insight or comments on these trends, we’d love to hear from you.