Canadian lawyers – in law firms and government legal agencies – are faring well despite continuing to confront challenges including spending too much time on administrative tasks, managing rate pressures, and improving mental health.

These are among the takeaways from the State of the Canadian Law Firm Market and the Canadian Government Lawyers Benchmark reports, jointly released by Thomson Reuters and the Canadian Bar Association. The reports offer insights into how Canadian firms and government lawyers assess and measure their success, goals, risks, and challenges.

The State of the Canadian Law Firm Market report revealed what Canadian Lawyer called a “misalignment between idea of success and firms’ planning and metrics.”

Report findings showed that Canadian lawyers rank firm reputation, client satisfaction, and repeat client business as their three top measures of success. However, only 50% of respondents’ firms measured reputation, while just 46% measured client satisfaction.

“Reputation and client satisfaction were seen as success factors but not treated as goals,” Canadian Lawyer Editor Aidan Macnab explained. Macnab said the report “found that the definition of success among law firms is not always aligned with how they measure and plan for it or their assessment of goals and risks.”

Gail Cohen echoed this perspective in National Magazine with another take on the findings: “Legal analyst Jordan Furlong says that many law firms lack a clear definition of success and fail to measure important metrics, such as overall profits or client feedback.”

Furlong told Cohen: “If you’re not measuring it, you’re not really prioritizing it. To me, that is a big takeaway — the gap between what we say is important and what we’re actually doing to ensure that the important stuff is getting done.”

The adoption of generative AI tools was another disconnect the reports revealed. The Canadian Government Lawyers Benchmark report found that only 6% of Canadian government lawyers are experimenting with this technology, compared with 26% of their law firm peers.

Steve Assie, head of Canada, Thomson Reuters, highlighted the transformative role AI can play for legal professionals willing to embrace it.

“The challenges and opportunities facing both law firms and government agencies are evolving rapidly, and AI is going to play a pivotal role in the evolution of the legal industry,” Assie said. “Legal professionals need solutions they trust that can leverage the power of generative AI, with the guardrails around data and security, to operate more efficiently and better serve their clients. In addition to generative AI, law firms and government agencies will face talent issues and rising pressures to improve efficiency, and both would be well served to regularly reassess how they measure and manage for success.”

Both reports are available to download, in English and in French, for more insights on the Canadian legal market.


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