What Lawyers Can Take Away From 2022 

What Lawyers Can Takeaway From 2022

One of the most notable things for law firms in 2022? The high demand for legal services.   

Average caseloads among law firms increased by 10% from March 2021 to August 2022 when compared to 2019. And while concerns about a recession and inflation may put a damper on this trend, this surge in demand set the stage for many of the conversations that will take place at law firms in 2023 regarding growth, hiring, technology, work-life balance, and more.  

Let’s break down the current trends in the legal industry so that your law firm can successfully adapt to meet client expectations and growth goals and thrive in 2023.

Increased caseloads 

Like other industries, the legal field has had more openings to fill than it does qualified candidates lately. While this may be good news for attorneys looking for a new position, it’s a challenging time for current associates, who are trying to manage higher-than-ever caseloads on top of their already busy schedules. 

For practicing legal professionals, the increased burden of higher caseloads may lead to burnout, exhaustion, and challenges with work-life balance. All these factors may lead attorneys to look for more flexible, balanced career options, both within and outside of the legal field.  

Bloomberg Law reports that 16% of attorneys who left their place of employment in 2022 abandoned the legal profession for another field, while 13% retired. To retain talent and attract new associates, law offices need to prioritize workplace practices that support the physical and mental health of employees in 2023.  

One change proposed by the American Bar Association is to limit billable hours to 1,800 hours per year instead of the standard 1,950 hours per year typically required for bonus consideration by most law firms.  

Quiet quitting 

The term “quiet quitting” is a bit of a misnomer, since quiet quitting doesn’t actually involve quitting your job.  

To quietly quit is to push back against a workplace culture that demands excessive work hours and sacrificing one’s personal life to succeed. Lawyers adopting the quiet quitting mentality are simply subscribing to the idea that boundaries are important in the workplace, just like in our personal lives. 

For most law firms, quiet quitting is antithetical to their business model. Some clients expect attorneys to be available for meetings during evenings and weekends, and not every case fits neatly into a 40-hour work week.  

Engaging employees—particularly newer associates—with a healthy workplace culture and innovative practices that benefit their work-life balance can help tip the scales in favor of them becoming long-term, active members of your workforce. 

Demand for workplace flexibility 

Studies show that 44% of lawyers with ten years or less of legal experience would leave their current position for another if they were offered more workplace flexibility. For law firms that are already struggling to fill job openings, catering to the demand for flexibility and offering more remote or hybrid office opportunities is a great way to stay competitive.  

But are your attorneys working remotely or remotely working? To maintain productivity, a major piece of the remote work equation is having the right tools for your attorneys to use. Most importantly, adopting cloud-based software can ease the transition between the office and home, facilitating high levels of productivity no matter where your attorneys are at.   

Because cloud-based software is accessible from any device with an internet connection, legal case files are more accessible and secure for remote employees. Cloud-based legal practice management software gives attorneys the ability to message clients, track billable hours, access matter documents, and send files securely. This gives law firms the flexibility to support hybrid work without worrying about maintaining legal compliance. 

Higher volume of billable hours 

With increased caseloads comes a higher volume of billable hours for attorneys to complete in 2022. But like all of us, attorneys are limited by the number of hours in the day. How can they  make space for more billable hours in the workday? 

Law firms that adopt new legal technology tools can successfully reshape the work week by reducing the time required for non-billable administrative tasks.  

For example:

  • Marketing automation tools can reduce the time it takes to source new leads and perform client follow-up. 
  • Legal customer relationship management (CRM) tools with practice management software can help firms automatically populate legal documents with client information, streamlining document creation and reducing errors. 
  • Software solutions that integrate with business and trust accounting can shave hours off the monthly billing cycle with one-click invoicing and online payments, freeing up time minutes for billable tasks. 

Booming practice areas 

Our aging population has implications for all sorts of industries, from healthcare to housing to the legal profession. With more Baby Boomers approaching retirement age each year, there will be even more demand for new qualified legal professionals. This demographic trend is already impacting which practice areas are growing in 2022 and beyond. 

Legal practice areas that particularly impact Baby Boomers—like retirement planning, elder law, and estate planning services—will likely continue to expand in the coming years. Law firms looking to diversify their practice may want to consider adding expertise in these practice areas to keep business booming in the years ahead. 

CosmoLex helps firms adapt to the changing legal landscape 

CosmoLex’s suite of innovative practice management features is built to help today’s law firms meet the increased demand for legal services. Our cloud-based functionality includes time-saving features that improve firm efficiency—legal CRM, automatic time tracking, and legally compliant online payments, to name a few.   

To see how CosmoLex can increase your firm’s capacity for billable work, schedule a demo or register for a free trial. 

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