‘Legal Industry at Stalemate Over Hybrid-Working Expectations’ – Survey

By BigHand.

BigHand’s latest industry report has uncovered an unprecedented level of employee volatility within law firms with increased lateral hiring, salaries rising fast, and a failure to meet employee hybrid-working expectations.

Across May 2022, BigHand gathered a total of 836 responses across senior Operations, HR, Resource Management and Practice Group Leader roles, from firms of 50+ lawyers in North America and the UK. In addition to exploring the latest resourcing trends and their impact on law firms, the research discovers how firms are responding to the demand for dedicated resource management expertise and technology.

The resulting report demonstrates how a better understanding of the way the industry is dealing with the stand-off between firms’ and employees’ hybrid working expectations can help to shape productive strategies that will also help win the current war on talent. It also highlights the current gap between firms’ DEI goals and what is currently being delivered – and how that can be changed.

Key findings include:

  • Half of respondents (49% of North America, 52% of UK) report that their firm has mandated the number of days they must be in the office – yet 49% of North America respondents and 35% of UK admit to not complying.
  • 69% of North America and 52% of UK firms report increasing client pressure to resource matters with diversity in mind. Yet less than one third (24% of North America and 27% of UK) law firms are prioritizing DEI when staffing matters.
  • 71% of North America, 63% of UK firms have received pressure from clients to make sure legal work is completed by the most cost-effective resource.

One of the key steps to improving these challenges is to move from the ‘practice of law’ to the ‘business of law’. This has resulted in the rise in dedicated resource management roles/work allocation roles in law firms – something that the Big Four accountancy firms have had in place for years.

The report found:

  • 91% of North America and 94% of UK firms plan to recruit a Resource Manager in the future, and 29% of North America and 36% of UK firms already have dedicated Resource Managers.
  • 87% of North America and 77% of UK firms either have a dedicated Resource Management technology in place or plan to implement one in the next 12 to 24 months.

Dedicated resource management processes, people and technology are now key – supporting equitable allocation of work and career development for all. Employees now expect to be treated fairly and to have their individual career plans recognized and supported – which means firms’ approaches to resource management will be critical.

Dave Cook, Global Director for Resource Management at BigHand commented: ‘This year’s Legal Resource Management report clearly demonstrates the urgency for firms in looking to adopt processes and software that address the ongoing challenges associated with work allocation. This is an area we have been supporting firms in introducing for a number of years however, the level of commitment to putting these structures in place has never been higher, with DEI and lawyer development at the center of this increased urgency. This, in my view, is an extremely positive move for law firms, their people, their clients and for the legal industry.’

Overall, the report provides extensive analysis of current resourcing trends at law firms and is a must-read for progressive legal professionals globally. Firms’ growth and client satisfaction now rely on a far more consistent approach, one that is built on a ‘one firm’ model where resources are shared and centralized, and Resource Managers are part of a strong, collaborative team.

To find out more or access the full report, click here.

[ Artificial Lawyer is proud to bring you this sponsored article by BigHand. ]