Lawyers are quick to embrace new technology, survey finds

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8 December 2010

Lawyers are quick to embrace new technology which is seen as essential to their everyday working lives, research has suggested.

A survey commissioned by LexisNexis UK, a leading provider of content-enabled workflow solutions, and conducted by legal research company Jures – a Legal Futures Associate – reveals that almost half of the respondents (47%) regard themselves as either “early adopters” or “at the cutting edge” when it comes to embracing new technologies.

The survey, Are Lawyers Early Adopters?, canvassed the views of 100 lawyers – from sole practitioners to magic circle partners – to learn about their adoption of the latest breed of technology, such as smartphones, mobile applications and eBooks, and how they view these technological tools with regard to accessing information and advice for themselves and their clients.

The report also found:

  • 77% of respondents favour online or digital resources to “traditional paper-based law libraries”, suggesting that the image of a lawyer in a book-lined office looks set to become a thing of the past;
  • 11% have already purchased an Apple iPad, which only became available in the UK in May, and use it specifically for legal work, while a similar proportion (10%) had an eBook reader, such as Kindle, specifically to help them do legal work; and
  • 87% retrieve information from digital sources other than e-mail (such as via smart phones or by downloading eBooks) on a daily basis.

The majority of the profession has embraced the use of smart phone technology – two-thirds of respondents (66%) have a BlackBerry. The survey results illustrate the dependency of the profession upon instant accessibility; some 73% either “constantly” or “at least once an hour” pick up their e-mail when out of the office.

Jures director Jon Robins said: “When consumers think of a ‘solicitor,’ many still might conjure up an image of a pin-striped lawyer, inaccessible and remote in a fusty book-panelled office. This report suggests that that stereotype is largely unfair. Our research indicates that lawyers claim to be quick of the mark when it comes to embracing the latest IT. They appreciate the benefits technological changes can have on their working lives. Plus, lawyers are also increasingly aware that their clients expect them to be accessible, whether they like that or not. They realise how new technologies can help them achieve this objective.”

The recent launch of LexisNexis eBooks was fitting given the survey findings that 81% of respondents indicated that advances in technology speed up legal research and almost three-quarters (73%) identified not having to carry paper work as beneficial.

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