Legal Departments See Higher Matter Volumes but Flat or Declining Budgets
Legal departments are prioritizing workflow efficiency, cost controls, and technology use. These are among the findings of the 2023 Legal Department Operations Index, which noted legal departments are facing growing workloads, shrinking budgets, and a need to increase their use of technology.
Legal Current shares top takeaways from the report.
- Legal departments are under pressure to do more with less. The report found 70% of legal departments are seeing higher matter volumes, yet 66% say that their budgets are flat or declining. While new technologies, including AI, could help improve efficiencies, legal departments face what the report terms a “technology conundrum.”
- Increasing use of technology is a high priority. A majority of general counsel (57%) say that leveraging technology automation is one of their top cost-control strategies. As a result, using technology to improve workflow efficiency is their second-highest priority, ranking behind controlling outside counsel costs. However, only 32% of legal departments’ budgets for legal technology are increasing.
- Legal departments rate e-billing and spend/matter management software as the most valuable technologies. These are followed by e-signature, litigation hold, and legal research. In addition, the Future of Professionals Report found that 60% of legal professionals believe AI will result in corporate legal departments moving more work in-house over the next five years, owing to improved efficiency and reduced costs. However, legal professionals also have concerns about AI, including the accuracy of outputs and the need for regulation to govern the ethics of AI.
- Legal departments are conflicted about return-to-office policies. While legal departments seek to balance the benefits of face-to-face interaction with the autonomy and flexibility of remote working, the decision may be largely out of their hands. The report found 54% of legal departments say their policies are set by the broader organization.
For more insights, download the 2023 Legal Department Operations Index.