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A Message From Clio

Highlights From the 2018 Legal Trends Report

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By Sam Rosenthal

By using industry insights and data, you can better understand how to deliver experiences clients want. The Legal Trends Report—an annual report that looks at anonymized and aggregated data from tens of thousands of legal professionals across the United States—aims to do just that.

With the 2019 Legal Trends Report on the horizon, let’s revisit seven key takeaways from the 2018 Legal Trends Report—because they’re still extremely relevant.

1. Lawyers need to understand modern clients

Last year’s report, produced by Clio, focused on legal customers—and it revealed something striking: Most lawyers don’t know as much about their clients as they think they do.

For one example, when asked about the best way to share details about a legal problem, 90% of lawyers surveyed said they assume clients prefer to do this through email or over the phone—yet 70% of consumers surveyed say they prefer to do this in person.

By understanding customers and instituting a client-centered approach, law firms can generate more and better reviews and referrals.

2. Potential clients are falling through the cracks

According to the report, 54% of people have never hired an attorney. Of people who faced a legal problem in the past two years, only 65% hired a lawyer, and more than half sought consultations or communicated with lawyers that they didn’t hire.


Clients don’t think acquiring legal services is easy or convenient enough—39% say that hiring a lawyer is overwhelming, and 32% say it’s too much trouble.

By changing these perceptions, attorneys can significantly grow their firms.

3. Lawyers should prioritize growth and efficiency

Lawyers know that increasing revenue is necessary (especially if they want to improve their compensation), but many ignore two key drivers of revenue: new clients and increased billable hours.

A mere 34% of attorneys cite “growing a client base” as important, and only 23% say it’s important to bill more hours.

To increase revenue, firms must prioritize, measure, and track these two markers of growth.

4. Law firms struggle to bill enough hours

The report shows that most attorneys only log 2.4 hours of billable work per 8-hour day. While most firms want to increase their revenues, non-billable tasks often get in the way of billable hours.

The non-billable work that takes up the majority of lawyers’ time include administrative tasks, marketing, and client relationship management. By finding ways to tackle these tasks more efficiently through the use of technology, law firms can greatly improve their profitability.

5. Law firms aren’t capitalizing on reporting and data analytics

As cited in last year’s report, only 43% of law firms prioritize improving data insights and reporting, and most lawyers aren’t confident in their abilities to measure firm performance.

This means that most lawyers are neither tracking their goals, nor interested in doing so—but analyzing firm and client enables lawyers to set better goals, effectively track progress, and achieve better results.

6. Client referrals matter

Referrals are key. According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, 62% of consumers ask for recommendations before seeking legal representation.

The takeaway from this is simple: If firms provide client-centered services that are in line with their expectations, clients are more likely to recommend those services.

7. Technology can transform law firms

While the vast majority (84%) of firms want to increase revenues, most lawyers can’t work more hours than they’re already working.

The best solution for increasing revenue without working longer hours is cloud-based legal technology—such as practice management, client intake, and legal client relationship management (CRM) software.

These tools enable firms to automate non-billable tasks, make processes more efficient, and increase revenue growth.

About the Author

Sam Rosenthal is a Content Strategist for Clio, specializing in thought leadership and creative content. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism program, Sam scripts and co-produces Clio’s legal podcast, Matters.

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