TechReport 2020: Particular person and Small Companies

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ABA TechReport combines data from the annual ABA Legal Technology Survey Report with expert analysis, observations and predictions from leading companies in the legal technology field. Every Monday we publish a new report from one of our experts. So stay up to date!

Adopting new technology and implementing comprehensive technology plans and processes are critical to a company’s ability to thrive in its marketplace, including law firms. Follow-up of previous years Legal Technology Survey ReportsThe American Bar Association has once again provided responses from attorneys representing a wide range of demographics to determine how companies use technology and maintain strong data and network security.

Below is a brief summary of the report. which you can purchase in full here.


Before summarizing the key findings of the 2020 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, Volume II: Technology Basis & SecurityIt is also important to briefly mention some key demographics of the respondents.

Of the lawyers who responded, 26% were individual practitioners, 30% in law firms with 2 to 9 lawyers, 17% in law firms with 10 to 49 lawyers, 5% in law firms with 50 to 99 lawyers, 10% in law firms with 100 to 499 lawyers and 12 % for firms 500 and over. The largest billing-based activity was litigation (27%), followed by estate planning (20%) and real estate transactions (16%).

The average respondent had been admitted to the bar for 30 years. The median age was 58 years. About 69% of the respondents were male and 31% were female.


Budget and goals

Interviewed the Survey 2020 were asked about the budget for technology for their companies and their technological goals.

This year, 62% of companies said they have a budget for technology (up from 60% in 2019). This percentage increases with company size, a trend that is consistent with past results. The bigger the company, the more likely it is that the company has a budget for technology. Of those surveyed who are familiar with their company’s annual software spending, the most common answer was over $ 20,000, followed by $ 1,000-2,999. In terms of corporate annual hardware spending, the most common answer was $ 1,000-2,999, followed by over $ 20,000. In both cases, larger companies tended to spend more money.

Technology decisions were most often made by either an individual practitioner, a managing partner, or all partners, although 81% of respondents said they had at least some influence on the types of technology they used.

The most common priority for future tech spend goals was office hardware (30%), followed by mobile technology (17%). Hardware was also the top priority for roughly the same percentage of respondents in 2019.

Training and support

When asked whether or not lawyers are required to undergo ongoing technological education or training in their law firm, 67% of respondents said they need to keep abreast of the benefits and risks of technology as part of the firm’s basic competency requirements% ). Solo firms are most likely to report the need with 72%.

Respondents were most likely to turn to in-house technical support for issues with their company’s technology, the same percentage as in 2019 (40%). Respondents who turned to a consultant first saw a slight decrease in 2020 (27%) compared to 2019 (28%) and 2018 (30%).

When it came to technical problems, 46% of respondents said that technical problems rarely affected productivity. 45% said “sometimes” and 7% said “often”. The largest percentage of “often” or “sometimes” responses came from companies with more than 100 lawyers (60% versus 64% in 2019).

When asked how important it is to receive training on company technology, 42% of respondents said it was “very important” and 40% said it was “something important”.


Technology policy

The respondents were asked which technology policy the company had introduced to control the technology. Half or more of the companies had policies in place for email, Internet, and computer use, and remote access. The larger the company, the more likely it was that these guidelines would be implemented. As in 2019, individual respondents were most likely not to have had such guidelines. 58% answered with “none”, a slight increase compared to 2019.

Security tools

When asked about the types of security tools law firms use, respondents were most likely to use spam filters (81%), anti-spyware (76%) and firewalls (74%) out of the various options listed. As in 2019, individual practitioners and small businesses were most likely to have some forms of personal mobile device inaccessible to their networks, 22% and 9% respectively, compared with 29% and 16% in 2019, but 87% of businesses overall of respondents allowed personal mobile devices.

Security breach

29% of respondents said they had experienced a security breach at some point, and 21% said they were unsure whether or not the company’s security was ever breached. Firms of 10 to 49 lawyers were most likely to have had a security breach at a rate of 42%. The “don’t know” percentage increased with the size of the company.

Viruses, Spyware and Malware

36 percent of respondents said that technology was infected with viruses, spyware or malware at some point, while 26 percent did not know. Again, the “don’t know” percentage increased with the size of the company. For the first time in the last four years there were firms with 10-49 lawyers Not The most likely group had problems with malware. The result came from companies with 2 to 9 lawyers this year at a rate of 45% (up from 44% for companies with 10 to 49 lawyers, down from 48% last year). ).

The most common types of losses reported as a result of infection were consulting fees for repairs (39% versus 40% in 2019), downtime / loss of billable hours (35% versus 32% in 2019), and temporary loss of network access ( 23%, as in 2019). Organizations reported using a variety of physical security tools, but individual practitioners were the least likely to use physical security tools of any kind.


By far the most common data backup methods used have been online sources (such as the cloud), external hard drives, and external sources. The larger the company, the less likely it was that the respondent knew how the company backed up their files. 71% of the respondents from companies with more than 100 lawyers did not know, compared to 2% of the respondents with individual lawyers and 12% of companies with two to nine lawyers. Sixty percent of respondents said they had a formal policy on how to retain company information or data (56 percent in 2019).


The general trend in the 2020 S.survey The larger the company, the more likely it is that formal technological measures and procedures are in place. However, as individual respondents grow, they become less familiar with the technology and security decisions made.

Smaller and sole proprietorships are more likely to lag behind in adopting formal processes and plans for technology, and especially security. However, the lack of formalized processes does not necessarily mean that the smaller companies are not using technology. Rather, this means that the specific plans of larger companies are more comprehensive and formalized for reasons of necessity due to the need for standardization with more employees.

Many of the responses stayed close to 2019 levels, which would suggest that companies haven’t made any significant adjustments to technology plans or processes in the past year. However, since answers were collected before COVID-19 hit the world, they serve as an interesting bookmark in history before very different results are likely to be seen over the next year.

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