find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Firms manually losing money

Firms manually losing money

New research has found that firms could be losing out on $51,000 in charge-out rates per partner each month because fee earners are failing to make efficient use of new technologies.

More than a third of respondents to a Thomsons Reuters survey, The impact of research and workflow technology on Australian legal professionals, said they relied exclusively on ‘manual’ processes to track their billable time, but more than half (56%) of those admitted to underestimating their hours, with an average inaccuracy of 30 to 40 per cent.

Based on an average solicitor charge-out rate of $300 per hour this could equate to a loss of $20,000 per month; with a partner rate of $800 per hour the loss could be $51,000, according to the survey.

“Firms that fail to adopt new technologies leave themselves open to being less competitive than those that do,” said Carl Olson, commercial director of Thomson Reuters Legal (Tax & Accounting ANZ). 

More than three quarters (76%) of respondents said their lack of knowledge of how to make the most efficient use of workflow and research tools led to a significant waste of their firm’s time; only 17 per cent said they got the most out of the current workflow and research tools at their disposal, while just 11 per cent said their firm offered formalised training for new technologies.

Other areas where respondents said they relied exclusively on ‘manual’ processes included workflow management (41%), legal research (38%), tracking billable time (37%), client cost ledger (35%), document management (31%) and document production/assembly (19%).

The top reasons for respondents failing to adopt new technologies were a greater trust in ‘traditional’ methods (43%) and technophobia (32%).

Law firms’ lack of willingness to change was highlighted at last month’s Janders Dean Knowledge Management Conference.

“[In some firms] the typewriter has just been replaced by Word and not much else has been done to see how we can speed up our delivery,” said Michael Roch, the co-founder and executive partner of management and consultancy firm Kerma Partners, when speaking at the Conference.

Olson said: “It’s surprising to see so many firms still relying on so-called ‘manual’ processes, despite the availability of proven and trusted time-saving alternatives such as online research portals and sophisticated practice management software.

“In some cases this costs time, but when a fee earner undercharges their hours, it’s a case of directly losing money.” 

The survey found that fully-automated solutions could offer 50 per cent time savings in the areas of workflow management, legal research and document production/assembly; and savings of 25 per cent in tracking billable time, client cost ledger and document management.

The research also highlighted a lack of fee-earner time analysis, with just 21 per cent of firms analysing fee earner’s figures on a monthly basis and 19 per cent never doing it; 16 per cent analysed the figures every six months, and 37 per cent yearly.

More than 80 senior fee-earning legal practitioners in medium-to-large practices were surveyed in August this year.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Firms manually losing money
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 11 2017
Warm welcome for new district court judges
Three practitioners who were appointed as district court judges in WA have been congratulated by ...
Lawyers welcome same-sex marriage reform
Dec 11 2017
Lawyers welcome same-sex marriage reform
Australian lawyers have welcomed the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage, after a prolonged nat...
Senate disallows double standards for temporary visa holders
Dec 8 2017
Senate disallows double standards for temporary visa holders
Lawyers have welcomed the Senate’s rejection of regulations imposing strict penalties on temporary...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...