InsideLegal and the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) recently released the findings of the 7th annual ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey (survey). The 2010 survey, which was administered by ILTA and analyzed and published by InsideLegal, focused on feedback from ILTA member law firms with 50 or more attorneys and covered IT budgeting; technology purchasing patterns; selection criteria and influencers; technology trends & IT challenges, and state-of-the-economy questions. The survey, considered by leading legal technologist Dennis Kennedy as the "best resource available for getting hard data on what law firms are actually doing in the area of legal technology", has continued to gain in relevance in our space. The 2010 edition, complete with 43 questions (including 10 new items from last year), was distributed to approximately 610 ILTA member firms, ranging from 50 to 3,000 attorneys, and yielded 109 unique firm responses. 84% of all participating firms came from the U.S., with the remaining 16% originating from Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
2010 survey highlights included:
Budgeting & Purchasing: Overall firm technology spending as a percentage of firm revenue is still down, but slowly rebounding. Key indicators including 'percentage of firm revenue spent on technology' and 'per attorney tech spend' are still far below 2008 levels, but showing promise compared to 2009 levels.
IT budgets growing: Budget belts have definitely been loosened as evidenced by 33% more firms indicating technology budget increases vs. 2009. Firms with growing tech budgets cited an average budget increase of 11%.
The new financial 'normal': 45% reported their firms are already 'back to normal financially', while only 6% indicated it will take another 12+ months (compared to 45% in 2009). Of course, being back to 'normal' beckons the question, 'normal compared to what?'
Technology purchase approval shift: 2010 percentages reflect a shift away from the majority of tech approvals coming from C-Level Executives (41% compared to 52% in 2009), to more authority being given to IT Directors and Firm Administrators.
Technology purchases - past & future: 2009 legal technology implementations were predominantly focused on core hardware and IT infrastructure projects including network and server upgrades, desktops/laptops/notebooks and storage area networks. 43% of all respondents (representing the highest percentage) are planning Microsoft Office upgrades in 2010/2011. According to legal IT and firm end-users, satisfaction with newly implemented technologies is down from previous years.
Purchasing influencer/influences: The finance department has firmly asserted itself in the legal technology purchasing process and purchase requests from attorneys are up 16% since 2007.
Popular legal and technology publications read by ILTA members include Peer to Peer magazine, ILTA whitepapers, CIO Magazine, Law Technology News, Information Week and Computerworld. Technology articles, 'how tos', best practices, product reviews and case studies are the most popular content sections. While blog readership among survey respondents is up 13%, technology podcasts are still a low priority, and LinkedIn is the most popular social media tool with a 83% use rate.
As expected, IT colleague and firm peer recommendations were the top factors for technology buying decisions in 2010, followed by internet research and input from ILTA E-Groups. 57% of survey respondents indicated using an outside consultant to assist in making purchasing decisions.
Technology trends and IT challenges: 17% of responding firms indicated implementing a cloud strategy this year, compared to 9% in 2009. Email is the top cloud service respondents are looking to deploy followed by case and practice management. Primary benefits firms are looking for from cloud solutions include increased backup, reduced infrastructure costs, and scalability.
Collaboration: 49% of respondents utilize SharePoint internally for collaboration, while 24% use it as a collaboration tool for client and other external communications.
IT challenges: The biggest challenges facing legal IT departments include email management, staffing issues and storage needs.
Vendor relations: 69% of all survey respondents were offered vendor discounts last year, with 20% receiving free services from their technology vendors.
You can download the complete 2010 InsideLegal/ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey here.
2010 survey related resources:
- Press Release - ILTA and InsideLegal Release 2010 ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey
- ILTA TV Interview with InsideLegal's JoAnna Forshee regarding the 2010 InsideLegal/ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey (8.24.10) (coming soon here)
- Legal Talk Network: The Un-Billable Hour podcast with Rodney Dowell - The ILTA Conference & the InsideLegal/ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey (8.25.10)
A look back to 2009's survey: