Three Gateway Center
401 Liberty Ave.
 22nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone412-281-5060
Fax: 412-281-4499
Pittsburgh Law Office Map
Three Gateway Center
401 Liberty Ave.
 22nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone412-281-5060
Fax: 412-281-4499
Pittsburgh Law Office Map

Phone: 412-281-5060

Houston Harbaugh Blog

5 trends shaping the legal industry in 2021 and beyond

While 2020 was a year like no other for businesses, the legal sector is adapting to recent trends as law firms strive to become more competitive, efficient and productive as the country emerges from the effects of the pandemic.

Dynamic changes in technology, demographics, work modes and customer expectations will encourage practices to evolve to meet their clients’ needs. Here are the top five trends for the legal profession in the coming months and years.

Talent and hiring

Many law firms are redefining their workforce structure through new hiring strategies. Non-law degree hires are no longer limited to paralegals, IT personnel and office administration. They now include:

  • Executives without a law degree, such as CFOs, CMOs and CEOs with expertise in certain litigation areas
  • Contractors and freelancers to supplement the existing workforce, creating greater flexibility and a way to increase or decrease staffing quickly
  • Remote employees, as back-office and client-facing roles are increasingly handled by artificial intelligence (AI)

Boosting the client experience

Many law firms are trying to adopt client-centric approaches to add value and reduce costs, such as:

  • Partnering with other service providers, such as chatbots and online payment portals
  • Turning to AI and new technology to improve service and increase efficiency
  • Adopting creative fee services and being more transparent about costs

Updated technology

IT research and advisory company Gartner predicted 85% of customer interactions would be automated by the end of 2020. Bots are revolutionizing client services by performing multiple tasks, including:

  • Document review
  • Legal research
  • Billing
  • Due diligence
  • Jury screening

Specialized legal services

Increasing complexity in specific legal areas is creating the need for high-value expertise. This has led some firms to focus on so-called “micro-niches.” These firms:

  • Target a small number of potential clients
  • Appeal to customers with specific needs and goals
  • Focus on a particular practice area to provide tailored services
  • Can become the go-to experts within their area of law

Commitment to diversity and equality

Many large law firms have long strived to be inclusive employers while seeking top-notch candidates. Today, even small firms are beginning to understand the importance of equality, inclusion and diversity. This has been spurred by:

  • Programs such as the Mansfield Rule Certification, which recognizes firms whose workforces are comprised of at least 30% women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+ and those with disabilities
  • The #MeToo movement, which has pushed many law firms to review their gender equity policies and employee training practices

The dawn of a new era in law

All these developments promise substantial changes in how law firms will deliver legal services to their clients now and in the years to come. For many, 2021 could present a meaningful and remarkable transition at a time when the competitive landscape presents new challenges.

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