Litigation Management Survey Identifies Trend toward Bolder Investments in People and Technology in Law Firms
Survey of lawyers also reveals attitudes, challenges and uses for technologies supporting e-discovery, mobility, case assessment and alternative fee arrangements
June 21, 2011 — NEW YORK, NY – Findings from a nationwide survey of law firms and corporate legal departments suggest that, while both corporate legal departments and their outside counsel are using various tools to achieve greater litigation efficiency, a trend may be developing in which law firms are making significant investments in people and innovative technologies so they are able to better manage the entire litigation process. The survey was conducted online among 513 lawyers by Harris Interactive® on behalf of LexisNexis® (www.lexisnexis.com).
The information is part of a set of findings from the State of Litigation Management report released today by LexisNexis. The report, which is available for free download at (www.lexisnexis.com/litigation-survey2011), also reveals attitudes among U.S. lawyers regarding current litigation management practices and suggests opportunities for ways to achieve greater efficiencies.
"These findings suggest that law firms have continued their movement to a ‘one-stop shop’ model for litigation management with more of them managing the different aspects of discovery through integrated technology and on-staff experts,” said Matt Gillis, vice president of Litigation Tools and Professional Services at LexisNexis. “This will enable firms to offer their clients a more efficient and trusted set of capabilities for greater control of litigation data, processes and costs."
Law Firms Leading the Way – According to the survey, 77 percent of law firms have in place a number of technology solutions to help them with data management in the litigation process, compared with 64 percent of corporate legal departments, and 55 percent of firms have specifically acquired on-site software for litigation management, compared to 32 percent of corporate legal departments. The results also indicate investments being made in people, with 20 percent of U.S. law firms and 18 percent of corporate legal departments now employing e-discovery professionals on their full-time staffs.
Other noteworthy findings from the survey include the following:
Challenges for Use of Technology – The most cited concern for managing data reported by all lawyers surveyed (44 percent) was balancing large amounts of data with budget constraints and excessive cost to the company. Further, more than half of law firm and corporate attorneys (53 percent) consider the review phase of e-discovery as the most time-intensive. In terms of data management, managing privileged information and keeping up with the latest technology are the most significant challenges currently facing the legal industry (52 percent and 51 percent, respectively). Forty percent of law firm respondents and 38 percent of corporate counsel cited time constraints as the biggest obstacle in evaluating cases.
Demand for Mobility – In spite of past concerns about data privacy and the use of mobile devices, 70 percent of all lawyers surveyed said they want to retrieve legal information from a mobile device. More specifically, 55 percent of lawyers surveyed say they want to access legal research, while 45 percent want key case documents, and 32 percent want case fact chronologies. Perhaps not surprisingly, attorneys under the age of 40 are leading this trend, with 79 percent reporting they are interested in accessing materials via mobile devices versus 60 percent for attorneys over age 40.
"Giving lawyers mobile access to what they want is one way to alleviate time constraints they face in assessing cases,” suggested Gillis. “Enabling attorneys to get information while on the go directly addresses their most cited concern."
Making AFAs Work – The majority of respondents (65 percent) say that Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs) for litigation budgeting are important to the future of the industry, and more than three-quarters (76 percent) of law firms have some sort of AFA with their clients. However, the survey results also find that only one in 10 law firms use them for the majority of their clients, and pricing obstacles are the biggest challenges with putting AFAs in place, according to 40 percent of law firms and 34 percent of in-house counsel.
"As the e-discovery process becomes more complicated and time intensive and more attention is paid to it by the courts, costs associated with the process continue to rise," said Gillis. "However, innovative tools are being introduced to the market, which have the ability to simplify the process and ease the burden on staff – helping address some of those cost concerns."
Case Assessment Tools – When it comes to using technology to help analyze and assess a case, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of lawyers surveyed said they believe it is important that case analysis capabilities are integrated with litigation document management tools.
The survey also found that law firm lawyers and corporate counsel differ somewhat on what they believe comprises the most beneficial case analysis technologies and processes. For example, most law firm lawyers (55 percent) say it is most beneficial to have better overall case organization for trial and deposition preparation, while corporate lawyers said that tools that help them with effective reporting, updating and communication with clients make up the most effective set of tools and processes.
"Corporate counsel and law firm lawyers have different perspectives based on their roles, but what they appear to have in common is their desire to see case analysis capabilities integrated into other solutions they use for litigation management,” said Gillis. “Integrations like that help them more quickly, effectively and confidently process information about a case, make judgments and then communicate with their client or firm."
About the Survey
Data for this survey were collected by Harris Interactive Service Bureau (“HISB”) on behalf of LexisNexis. HISB was responsible for the data collected and LexisNexis was responsible for the survey design, data analysis and reporting. The survey was conducted online among 513 U.S. lawyers including 263 law firm attorneys and 250 corporate counsels between March 14 and 22, 2011.
LexisNexis® (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of content-enabled workflow solutions designed specifically for professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting, and academic markets. LexisNexis originally pioneered online information with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. A member of Reed Elsevier [NYSE: ENL; NYSE: RUK] (www.reedelsevier.com), LexisNexis serves customers in more than 100 countries with 15,000 employees worldwide.