US lawyers prefer paper, says survey

Seventy per cent of US lawyers use technology on a daily basis, according to a study commissioned by Pitney Bowes Management Services (PBMS).

The study on the impact of technology on the legal profession questioned 200 partners and associates from top law firms across the US.

It claims that although 84 per cent of respondents said they prefer practising law in conjunction with technology, the majority still choose to communicate with their clients on paper rather than by email.

Despite the ability to create and store documents electronically, most lawyers (61 per cent) continue to make hard copy back-ups.

Respondents, however, cite greater efficiency and productivity as the most important result of technology followed by better document management. The survey also reported a decrease in the number of support staff needed. Most firms were unsure whether it had increased law firm profitability or lowered the firm's operating costs.

Lawyers are divided on how technology will affect the future of the legal profession. A small percentage envisage a future dominated by mega-firms, while others foresee smaller specialist boutique firms.

The remaining respondents do not see a correlation between technology and the future of the profession or are uncertain of what it might be.

Monty Kaufman vice-president of PBMS said: “The survey proves that the majority of US lawyers believe that technology is vital to their work and that their firms' investment in it has paid off in increased efficiency and flexibility.”

Andrew Levison, head of legal IT at the the David Andrews Partnership, says the survey reflects UK trends.

“The email question is especially relevant to this country,” he says. “But I think as lawyers increasingly use internal email systems they will realise its benefits and ask why they aren't using it externally.”