How much is #auslaw evolving right now?

By Jerome Doraisamy|15 July 2020
Sydney CBD

New research underlines how much change to Australian legal businesses, inspired by COVID-19, is expected to remain.

The COVID-19 Business Confidence survey, commissioned by Lawyers Weekly’s sister brand MyBusiness, is an ongoing survey of a cross-section of Australian business leaders and employees conducted by research firm Momentum Intelligence, featuring responses from professionals in accounting, aviation, defence, financial services, law, mortgage and finance broking.

Responses were received from 578 lawyers: 259 identifying as business owners, directors, senior managers, principals or C-suite execs, 316 identifying as employees, and six responses came in from unemployed lawyers.

The findings revealed the extent to which changes (pertaining to client service delivery, adoption of technology, workplace processes and procedures and physical working set-ups, among others) brought in as a response to the global coronavirus pandemic are expected to, or should, become permanent in the legal profession.

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On the client front, 21 per cent of lawyers note their businesses have made significant changes to their client service offerings, while half (49 per cent) have made minor changes and 29 per cent say they have made no changes.

Among the lawyers whose businesses have seen minor to significant changes, almost all expect those changes to be maintained.

All changes will be maintained in almost one in five legal businesses (18 per cent), some changes will remain in three-quarters (74 per cent) of businesses, while just 8eight per cent will revert back to pre-pandemic conditions. Compared to the other professional services strands, law appears to be more willing to retain COVID-19-inspired changes, with 13 per cent of businesses across accounting, aviation, defence, finance, mortgage broking and real estate planning to unwind changes made.

Lawyers further anticipate that the retention of such changes will occur regardless of the substance of those evolutions: 90 per cent of lawyers feel that substantial changes will remain and 93 per cent believe the minor changes will also stay in place.

Reflecting on the findings, Momentum Intelligence head of strategy Michael Johnson said: Organisation normally make changes to the way they service their clients in line with their broader strategic goals and objectives. However, COVID-19 has proven to be the ultimate equaliser in pushing organisations to make decisions here and now.”

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“This pandemic has forced business leaders, futurists and innovators to not only think about the solutions to the challenges they face but also execute their ideas to modernise and [futureproof] their organisations in the post-COVID world,” he said.

The survey also found that two-thirds of the legal profession has seen hits to revenue, explored the extent to which lawyers want to return to the office, and identified that wellness levels of lawyers look positive as the pandemic continues.

Voting is now open for The Lawyers Weekly Award, to be presented to one individual for making substantial, consequential achievements in advancing the Australian legal profession since 2000. Finalists for this prestigious award have been confirmed as those listed below. To vote for your preferred winner, click here. https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/28834-vote-now-for-the-foremost-lawyer-of-the-21st-century

Julian Burnside AO QC (barrister)
Bernard Collaery (barrister, former Attorney-General of the Australian Capital Territory)
Kate Eastman SC (barrister and co-founder, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights)
The Hon Robert French AC (former chief justice, High Court of Australia)
Sue Kench (global chief executive, King & Wood Mallesons)
The Hon Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC (chief justice, High Court of Australia)
The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG (former justice, High Court of Australia)
Jane Needham SC (barrister and former president, NSW Bar Association)
Geoffrey Robertson AO QC (barrister)
Professor Gillian Triggs (assistant secretary-general, United Nations and former president, Australian Human Rights Commission)

How much is #auslaw evolving right now?
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