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The Emergence of Tigers and Bears and Other Law Firm Trends

October 29, 2014

Posted by
Megan Hall, Content Research Manager

Since 2009, Aderant has conducted a series of studies exploring the changes and challenges faced by law firms around the globe related to the impact of new technology.

One interesting trend revealed by the survey is the emergence of two distinct firm identities—tigers and bears—and the differing ways the two handle operational pressures and determine a firm’s strategy. Tiger firms demonstrate a more aggressive approach to growing their businesses, with a focus on venturing out to “hunt” new clients in lieu of investing in their existing operations. Bear firms exhibit a more cautious approach, perpetually preparing for “winter hibernation” with an inward focus on selling additional services to current clients and leveraging their existing people and technology investments.

Below, you can check out some of the findings of the study, along with a fun infographic. The full survey report is available for download at www.aderant.com/tigersandbears.

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Who took the survey?

The 2014 Legal Industry Report encompasses responses from 227 firms in 13 countries, spanning North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, with 117 of the responses representing firms of 50 plus attorneys.

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Is your firm investing in a tech project in 2014?

The answer is likely, yes. The 2014 survey confirmed a core truism of the business of law today: the ongoing need to invest in systems and processes. According to the 2014 survey, 98% of firms are more likely to undertake one or more technology projects during the year.

Less than 15% of both large and small firms have lower IT budgets in 2014 compared to the prior year; the vast majority has similar or larger budgets.

Large Law Firms

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Small Law Firms

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Where is your firm spending its IT budget?

For large Law firms, a big percentage is going towards systems to automate processes and workflows and tools to improve the productivity of lawyers and timekeepers.

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According to the survey, almost three-quarters of large firms (74%), feel increasing pressure from clients to lower hourly billing rates. That’s a significantly higher percentage than in 2011 (44%). Among these firms, the most frequently cited IT spending initiative is systems to support alternative fee arrangements.

For small law firms, a large percentage is being spent on tools to improve the productivity of lawyers and timekeepers. According to the survey, 27% of firms feel increasing pressure from clients to lower their hourly billing rates. Among these firms, tools to improve the productivity of lawyers and timekeepers is the most frequently selected technology initiative (45% of firms). Efficiencies can provide needed flexibility to more aggressively compete on price. 

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What is the most important factor your firm looks at when selecting an IT vendor? 

Product capabilities and functions. Both large and small firms selected product capabilities and functionality as the most important factor in choosing an IT vendor, almost twice the percentage in our preceding survey. This response coincides with law firms’ recognition of specific technology functioning to improve efficiency.

Large Law Firms

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Small Law Firms

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What is the most important business objective for your firm right now?

The survey revealed that large firms were less focused than small/midsized law firms on acquiring new clients, and they are more likely to have increased their IT budgets.

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Correspondingly, small and midsized law firms are more focused than large firms on acquiring new clients, and are less likely to have increased their IT budgets.

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Download the full infographic.

 

Aderant Legal Software - Key Factors

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About Aderant

Aderant, headquartered in Atlanta, is a global provider of comprehensive business management software for law and other professional services firms. With a 35-year history as a global industry leader, Aderant supports nearly 3,200 clients in more than 30 countries, representing 77 of the top 100 Global Law Firms and more than 88 percent of the Am Law 200. Aderant maintains a combined customer retention rate of more than 95 percent and a customer support Net Promoter Score of 81.

Aderant’s complete suite of solutions includes: business development, calendar/docket matter management with built-in court rules, practice and financial management, time and billing, case management, document management, and business intelligence.

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