Is The Legal Sector Starting To Move Away From Email?

A new survey of people working across the legal sector in a variety of roles has found that over half use WhatsApp and just over a quarter use Slack for work purposes – indicating that at least some lawyers may be moving away from sole reliance on email for text-based communications.

The survey by flexible resourcing group, Obelisk Support, asked more than 2,000 people, covering lawyers and other roles across the industry, a range of questions about their tech use, including what tools they used to communicate at work. 38% of the survey sample were classed as ‘Other’, which meant working in support roles, as well as trainee lawyers who were not qualified yet. Also, just under a quarter of the sample were signed up to Obelisk Support as flexible lawyers.

That said, the results are still indicative of some broader patterns across the industry – see table below. Moreover, the responses were specifically in relation to the question: ‘What do you use for work?’ I.e. not generally and for social use.

Obelisk Support Data.

In terms of alternatives to email there were several notable entries:

  • WhatsApp at 53% – (which can be used for video calls, but also for text-based messages.)
  • LinkedIn messages at 47%
  • Slack at 27%
  • Facebook Messenger at 10%

It’s not clear if the use of Facebook Messenger is for lawyer-client communications, or it’s just people within a legal business sending messages to each other. The same goes for LinkedIn messages, which perhaps are being used for marketing purposes?

The fact that over a quarter of respondents said they used Slack for work purposes is definitely notable, given that the legal sector has not exactly embraced this platform with open arms. But, how many of those who mentioned it are lawyers in large law firms remains unclear.

In some ways this survey raises additional questions that perhaps need to come in a following piece of work, such as: which roles are using which communication tools the most? Are the people using things like Slack partners at law firms, or admin staff? And what is each tool mainly used for, e.g. lawyer-client communications, marketing, or just internal organisational needs?

Overall, it does show that the idea of lawyers being wholly stuck in email is perhaps starting to change. Thanks to Dana Denis-Smith, CEO of Obelisk Support, for putting this together in the ‘How Tech Ready Are You?’ report, which has just been released.

Survey Demographics:


  1. It is great that there are other alternatives for email but it should be noted that those email systems that the law firm provides are designed to protect the attorney as well as non-legal staff. Everything said has a possibility of an issue of confidentiality so unless the alternatives are integrated into the law firms email based system keep all business related issues in the email system.

  2. This is a very informative blog. Although law firms some law firms are using different platforms now aside from email, it doesn’t mean that email is totally being abandon. Email will always and always be a way for us to market ourselves in the bigger spectrum. Anyways, I’ve been looking for content like this because I’m really into the law industry.

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