Attitudes toward lawtech adoption: Findings from a survey of solicitors in England and Wales

Gerard P. Hodgkinson, Siddharth Gulati, Karen Nokes, Andrew D. James, Sophia Kununka

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

136 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The adoption of digital technologies and related advances in artificial intelligence in the delivery of legal services is an issue that has rightly been a major focus of attention over the past decade, given the potential of these developments to fundamentally transform how the sector operates in respect of all aspects of its work. However, the rate and character of adoption of any new technology is fraught with uncertainty. The displacement of traditional ways of working and the accompanying shift of mind-set needed to fully embrace the potential opportunities that a new technology may offer presents significant behavioural challenges. Hence, the adoption of legal technologies poses some highly important unanswered questions regarding the attitudes and behaviour of legal services professionals toward them. Addressing this shortfall, this report summarises the findings of a representative, cross-sectional survey of the attitudes and beliefs of 656 solicitors in England and Wales concerning the adoption of lawtech. The study, which was conducted online during February and March 2023, examined participants’ perceptions of the nature and extent of lawtech adoption, their attitudes, and beliefs towards lawtech, and the extent of their current and intended future usage of lawtech. Aided in the collection of the data by The Law Society, the study was conceived and otherwise run independently by the authors of this report, a team of academic researchers at the University of Manchester and University College London. The key findings of the survey are as follows:

• The adoption of lawtech remains relatively limited and is driven by two principal motives, namely, improving the quality of legal services delivery and improving the efficacy of legal services delivery.

• There was an indifference towards technological advancement among many legal professionals and a lack of confidence in their ability to engage and experiment with lawtech. While legal professionals saw the positive benefits of organizational adoption of lawtech in terms of increasing productivity, they are generally less convinced of the benefits to them personally.

• Perceptions of managerial and organizational support for lawtech adoption were negative or at best neutral and there were mixed perceptions as to whether top managers considered lawtech a strategic priority and therefore worthy of investment and other forms of support.

• Perceptions of client satisfaction with lawtech provision were mixed. Almost half of the sample judged it to be fair to middling, with few respondents reporting that their clients are either very satisfied or very dissatisfied.

• Over half of respondents reported using some type of lawtech at least weekly although more than one third of the sample said that they either didn’t use lawtech at all or used it infrequently. More than half of respondents said that they intended to use lawtech more frequently over the next five years.

These findings suggest a number of important actions for enabling the potential of lawtech to be realised throughout the legal services sector:

• The role of senior leadership is critical to the effective adoption of virtually any innovation and, reflecting this reality, the senior leaders of firms need to provide greater direction and momentum to lawtech initiatives.

• Organizational encouragement and support for lawtech need to be improved markedly, particularly in the form of tangible and symbolic support on the part of senior managers.

• A strong business case is necessary but not sufficient for the adoption of lawtech. Senior leaders need to develop a compelling case for the personal benefits of adoption for legal professionals.

• Organizational decision makers must ensure that the necessary resources are available to support the adoption of lawtech, not least mechanisms to provide technical service support to staff engaging with new technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherThe Law Society
Commissioning bodyThe Law Society
Number of pages43
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78446-244-4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Attitudes toward lawtech adoption: Findings from a survey of solicitors in England and Wales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this