How Are Lawyers Using Technology? ABA TechReport 2021

Artificial-intelligence-ge6702fbce_1920-technologyEvery year, the ABA and the Legal Technology Resource Center conduct a legal technology survey seeking information from law firms of all sizes about how they use technology for everything from cybersecurity to cloud computing services to marketing and more.

Members of the Legal Technology Resource Center Board and other ABA members then analyze some of the information gleaned from the survey and the resulting ABA Legal Technology Survey Report and write articles covering their findings. These articles are known as TechReports.

The 2021 Technology Survey Report Covered the following areas:

  1. Online Research
  2. Technology Basics and Security
  3. Law Office Technology
  4. Marketing and Communication Technology
  5. Litigation Technology and E-discovery

All of the 2021 TechReports have now been released and are available to the public. They can be found as listed below:

  1. Cloud Computing, by Dennis Kennedy
  2. Practice Management, by Alexander Paykin
  3. Budgeting and Planning, by Julie Bays
  4. Websites and Marketing, by Allison C. Johs (yours truly)
  5. Technology Training, by Sofia Lingos
  6. Solo and Small Firm, by Reid F. Trautz
  7. Cybersecurity, by David G. Reis
  8. Life and Practice, by Alan Klevan

Use of Technology to Market Your Practice and Communicate with Clients

As noted above, I took on the task of reviewing the survey report related to websites and marketing once again this year, but my focus this year was on client communication - using technology to communicate with potential clients (marketing) and to keep current clients informed.

With respect to current clients, only 31% of survey respondents say they communicate with clients through their website or another online service (other than email). As I discuss in the article, I think this is a missed opportunity, especially since client portals make communicating with clients efficient and keeps client communications in one place (not to mention, often more secure than the way lawyers and clients are currently using email).

Similarly, lawyers miss an opportunity to streamline their billing and collections process by not taking advantage of current technology: "Most clients are used to paying for everything from groceries to medical services online, yet only 31% of respondents’ firms offer the ability for clients to pay online or through their website for their legal services."

In terms of marketing, lawyers seem to have recognized that having a website for their law firm is important - 94% of respondents in 2021 said their firm has a website. But, as my article indicates, "law firm websites still largely appear to be used as tools for one-way communication, rather than offering the firm’s audience easy ways to communicate with the firm through the site."

Video is another under-utilized communication tool among lawyers. " Only 28% of respondents’ firms use video for marketing overall, including only 19% of lawyers from firms of 2-9 lawyers, 18% of lawyers from firms of 10-49 lawyers, and only 10% of solos."

For more information and insights into how lawyers are using technology as a communication tool both on and off of their websites, with both potentail and existing clients, read the full TechReport here.

TechReport 2021 Highlights

Click on the links for any of the reports listed above to see the full report and analysis of the data and compare the results and the recommendations in each of these articles against what your firm is currently doing. Here are a few interesting notes from this year's other TechReports:

  • Laptops have passed desktops for the first time this year as the primary device of choice for attorneys to accomplish their work (Practice Management).
  • Although attorneys overall seem satisfied with the software tools they're using, the number of lawyers using these programs is low as compared to the number who have access to them (Practice Management).
  •  Only 43% of solo and 50% of small firms responding indicated that they budget for technology (Budgeting and Planning). 
  • Only 35% of solo respondents and 56% of firms of 2-9 attorneys report having technology training available at their firms (Solo & Small Firm)
  • 74% of respondents said that they were involved in the selection process for the technologies employed at their firm (down from 81% in 2020). (Technology Training)
  • When identifying technology solutions for their firms, 88% of respondents reported that they sought information from their colleagues, and 35% of those found peer input to be “very influential. (Technology Training)
  • Only 59% of respondents stated that they felt “very comfortable” using the firms existing technology (Technology Training).
  • Current cloud users cited “confidentiality/security concerns” (61%), lack of control over data (43%), losing control over updates (27%) and vendor longevity (23%) as concerns about use of the cloud. (Cloud Computing)
  • Only 35% of survey respondents employed secure socket layers (SSL) as a security measure (Cloud Computing).
  • 36%  of survey respondents report having an incident response plan for a security breach (Cybersecurity). 
  • Solo and small firms plan to spend only 10-11% of their technology budget on security compared to 20-36% of the larger firms with 100+ attorneys (Budgeting and Planning).
  • Almost 50% of the respondents who worked in a traditional office space leased/owned exclusively by the law firm did not return to that setting, but 64% of respondents said they did not telecommute (Life and Practice).
  • Overall, 64% of respondents report that they telecommute compared with 55% in 2019, but this response is skewed toward larger firms. In firms with 2-9 lawyers, only 50% reported they telecommuted, and 53% of solos telecommute regularly (Solo & Small Firm).
  • Of the 64% who telecommute, 39% did so full-time in 2021 compared to only 6% in 2019 (Solo and Small Firm).
  • 14% of respondents would stick with changes to the way they practice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 74% would implement a combination of their “old ways” and “new changes (Life and Practice).


July 16, 2014

June 27, 2014

May 28, 2014

April 30, 2014

April 04, 2014

March 25, 2014

March 12, 2014

February 20, 2014

December 12, 2013

December 04, 2013

  • Allison C. Shields
  • 631-642-0221

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