Law firm management professionals believe that the ratio of support staff to lawyers could be decreased - and that technology could be the key to driving such a change by supporting efficiency improvements.
According to the results of a LexisNexis* Australian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) study that covered 175 practice managers and was released this week, more than 40 per cent of respondents claim that their firm runs on a ratio of 1.5 or more support staff for every lawyer - but 44 per cent believe that a better ratio would be just one support staff member for every two lawyers.
It seems the practice management professionals surveyed also believe that technology could be the key to assisting in limiting the number of support staff needed per lawyer. According to almost 30 per cent of respondents, efficiency improvements is their most pressing issue that technology could help in addressing - even more pressing than cost reductions (10.4 per cent) and performance management (19.4 per cent).
The Pacific CEO of LexisNexis, TJ Viljoen, believes such client demands for efficiency will transform the way the legal world operates. "It is often said that when one door closes another one opens, and this is never truer than of a law firm in an economic downturn," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, ALPMA president Bronwyn Pott recently told Lawyers Weekly that she agreed the challenging economy has created the catalyst needed for the legal profession to address its management pitfalls.
The survey was undertaken at the ALPMA Summit in August.
* LexisNexis is the publisher of Lawyers Weekly