2016 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report

The legal field – like medicine, education, finance, and even dating – is being transformed by technology.  Major newspapers are reporting on this trend (See, e.g., Steve Lohr, A.I. is Doing Legal Work.  But It Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet, N.Y. Times (Mar. 19, 2017)), and it is unusual to browse an industry publication, such as ABA Journal or Illinois Bar Journal, without finding multiple stories devoted to legal technology.  Much of the coverage, however, spotlights early adopters and focuses on changes occurring at the industry level, making it difficult to discern how attorneys are utilizing new technologies in their everyday practices.

One helpful resource for learning more about how attorneys use technology on the ground level is the 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report, the latest edition of an annual publication compiled by Joshua Poje of the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center (ABA LTRC), and available here at the PLRC (check availability now: MON KF320 .A9A445 2016 and B,ABA KF325.1895 .A9142 2016).

 

Image Source: ABA Bookstore

 

The publication is comprised of six smaller reports, focusing on the following topics: Technology Basics & Security, Law Office Technology, Litigation Technology and E-Discovery, Web and Communication Technology, Online Research, and Mobile Lawyers.  Each of these reports begins with a “Trend Report” summarizing the findings, followed by detailed charts and graphs providing more specific results.  To gather this information, the ABA LTRC developed a 216-question survey and distributed the survey to 15,000 ABA attorney members from January through May 2016.

The Report offers some surprising insights.  For example, despite the widespread cultural embrace of Apple technology, only 7.9% of respondents listed Mac OS as the operating system on their primary work computer (Page II-18). Also, despite the prevalence of commercial resources like Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law, 91.6% of respondents indicated they conduct legal research using free online resources (Page V-35).

In my experience, I have found this resource to be cumbersome to work with due to its voluminous content.  The best way to use this book is by browsing the Table of Contents and by visiting ABA TechReport 2016, Am. Bar Ass’n (last visited July 26, 2017).  This site serves as a companion to the Report, features helpful analyses of each section written by experts in the particular field, and may help you identify particular results worth examining in the Report, itself.

Electronic Research, Technology, and Instructional Services Librarian at Northwestern University School of Law.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Tech
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