How has change affected your law firm (COVID, technology, intergenerational impacts)? You've had your say, now see the results!
In 2021, Queensland Law Society commissioned the University of Southern Queensland in collaboration with the University of Queensland, to investigate how firms successfully navigate these challenges and become future proof.
This research investigated the approaches and practices already being employed by Queensland law firms successfully navigating change and challenges, as well as strategies that may be employed to best prepare for potential forms of future disruption.
The Future Ready Research also covered what measures or supports could be provided to assist law firms to manage disruption, impacts of technology, COVID-19 and intergenerational change.
Close to 500 practitioners had their say in this research and now we are pleased to present the results.
What was the purpose of this research?
Regional and small law firms are important for our Queensland communities. In addition to providing legal advice to clients, these firms play a huge role of offering volunteer legal support for the community such as hospitals, schools, sporting clubs, and rural fire services, as well as many social justice organisations.
This survey will help us uncover what is needed to help regional and small law firms now and into the future.
Synopsis of findings
- Respondents stated that technology was an enabler to navigate not just COVID–19 but also other potential barriers to practice, including distance and floods. Technology and collegiately were identified as providing the greatest assistance to navigate the challenges of COVID–19.
- Employers were more confident in dealing with external threats than internal ones, despite having greater control over internal threats. There may be a hidden barrier to a law firm’s capability to meet disruption if principals fail to take responsibility for identifying threats or barriers on the horizon.
- Law firms of all sizes are using practice management software. However, many are not actively using client facing functionality, including client portals and client relationship management (‘CRM’) functions.
- A key finding of the Future Ready Survey was that improved strategic and business planning can build capabilities to deal with internal threats in firms.
- The use of technology is not always improving how Queensland lawyers spend their time
- Drivers impacting intergenerational change include changing values of young professionals, an aging workforce and impacts of technology.
- Respondents rated employed and trainee solicitors as only ‘moderately competent’ in their use of technology
- Potentially, there may be post COVID–19 impacts not being recognised, including burn out resulting in a reduction in willingness to commit to ‘service’ aspects including mentoring and networking.
- There is an over–confidence in dealing with cybersecurity that is not necessarily supported by their use of dedicated cybersecurity software and other measures.
Where to from here?
The following were recommendations arising from the report:
- Develop an Annual Law Firm Health Check to gauge law firm capability within the Queensland legal profession.
- Recommend QLS enhance and expand the QLS Continuing Legal Education Program to include training risk management, use of new technologies, cybersecurity
- Investigate further micro-credentialing opportunities for lawyers to build capability and expertise
- Opportunity for QLS to engage with professional and consultancy services across topics including innovative use of technologies, that will offer increased capability to deal with challenges.
- Recommend QLS to include information and resources on building law firm capability to deal with impacts of technology, intergenerational change and COVID–19 on their website in a ‘members only’ section.
- QLS to initiate and lead the collaborative development of a Future Ready Road Map 2030 to navigate the future for the Queensland legal profession.
- QLS continue to consult with the QLS Future Leaders Committee on all aspects of the Future Ready.
The Queensland Law Society (the Society) respect your privacy and are committed to the Information Privacy Principles contained in the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) and the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Please take the time to read our privacy notice and consent notice to understand how we deal with your personal information. Information collected from this survey will only be used for statistical and reporting purposes. Your responses will be completely anonymous.