The survey conducted by the Commonwealth Bank and Beaton Research + Consulting showed that despite facing challenges from numerous quarters, law firms at the beginning of 2014 are overall more positive about the future.
The renewed optimism comes despite revenue expectations decreasing in all parts of the country except Melbourne.
Firms also nominated the areas of the legal business they were least confident about, with ‘negotiating prices with clients’, ‘winning new business’ and ‘keeping staff fully utilised’ making up the top three areas of concern.
The report dispelled the popular view that large law firms are inherently conservative and lagging behind when it comes to adopting new technologies, indicating that top firms were actually leading the industry in that area.
It showed that top tiers were the leading adopters when it came to implementing new information and communications technologies such as mobility solutions, document automation and collaboration software.
However, early adopters of technology remained uncertain about whether their attempts at future-proofing an innovation would prove valuable with 57% of firms saying it was difficult or too early to tell if investments in new information and communication technologies would generate noticeable investment returns.
Additionally, the survey’s findings about legal process outsourcing and alternative legal service providers revealed that many firms are responding to the challenges of trying to reduce costs and stay ahead of the competition. One in four firms said they have competed for work with alternative business model firms in the past 12 months, and 64% of top tier firms claimed to have outsourced back-office functions in the last 12 months.
A recent survey of top and mid-tier law firms has produced some surprising results which contradict widely-held assumptions about top firms.