Clio’s annual Legal Trends Report, out today, is as good a summary on revenues, billings, work, the use of technology and career satisfaction for small and mid-size law firms and lawyers as you’ll find anywhere.

Reading the report though I felt a bit like I was reading a report on a Seattle’s housing prices over the last year. Camelot.

Compared to the 2019, or the last “normal” year, the average caseload was up 10% during March 2021 to June 2022, while average billable hours were 22% higher during the same time. On average, lawyers are billing more hours for every case they take on.

Over the same period of time, the number of hours billed to clients was up by an average of 28% compared to 2019, and average collected revenue was up by 31%, meaning that every hour of legal work has become more valuable to firms overall.

Unlike during tighter economies, lawyers left their law firms – and the legal profession altogether.

The “Great Resignation” has swept through the legal industry with resignation rates as high as 19%. Compared to non-legal professionals, this outsized movement signals an employeeʼs market with demands that include work-life balance and higher salaries.

Lawyers sought increased flexibility in both where and when they work. New technology-enabled capabilities are part of a longer-term shit that has further driven demand for more remote-enabled legal services.

Clio’s report warns though that law firms need to prepare for both boom and bust periods – especially with an impending further economic decline.

While firms may be busier and collect more revenue than years prior, global trends in inflation and rising interest rates could result in increased expenditures and potential slowdowns throughout the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.

Heading into an uncertain economy, relationships are key, per Clio CEO, Jack Newton.

“A law firmʼs most valuable asset is its people—lawyers, professionals, and clients are all integral to the success of the firm. For a long time, finding a healthy, productive balance between work and personal life meant a sacrifice on either front.”

Unlike years past, lawyers and law firms can now leverage technology to connect with each other, clients and prospective clients.

Todayʼs thriving firms can embrace new models for work-life balance, and capitalize on opportunities for growth well into the future with a better understanding of the path forward,” per Newton.

Look at the lawyers using law practice management solutions as just one example:

  • 44% more likely to have positive relationships with colleagues
  • 44% more likely to want to work throughout the day rather than a traditional 9-to-5 schedule
  • 29% more likely to be happy with their professional life

I am right with Clio – and Jack – that relationships are the foundation of the legal business.

After all, it’s blogging, another form of lawyer used technology that’s all about relationships, one that enables lawyers to connect with each other, their clients and prospective clients. (small plug)

As way of background, Clio creates the leading cloud-based technology for law firms of all sizes.