Webinar: Australian Legal Market Trends and 2020 Outlook

Legal professionals who relish the annual, Australia: State of the Legal Market report can now build on their knowledge with the latest Thomson Reuters webinar. Inspired by the popular write up, Australian Legal Market Trends and 2020 Outlook delves into the market predictions of Barolsky Advisors, Alpha Creates and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor. 

“We have a jam-packed agenda and I am confident that you will leave this session with a more in-depth understanding of the trends influencing Australia’s legal market,” said Catherine Roberts, Strategic Global Client Director for Thomson Reuters Legal Asia and Emerging Markets. 

From number-crunching data analysis to an innovation update and 2020 market predictions, the Thomson Reuters Legal webinar delivers this and more. Read on for highlights then register to view the webcast in full. 

Webinar preview

Ready to join our complimentary webinar? Register to view Australian Legal Market Trends and 2020 Outlook.

How Australia’s rate growth stacks up

Joe Blackwood is a US-based Thomson Reuters analyst, who specialises in benchmarking analytics for Peer Monitor, our leading benchmarking program for the legal industry. He monitors law firm intelligence to provide global insights. During question time, a member of the legal profession asked Joe how Australia’s rate growth (by about 2.2% last fiscal year) stacks up against global rate trends.

“That was actually quite high for what we’ve seen recently in the market,” replied Joe.

“When we compare that to the United States, however, it’s a relatively low mark. Worked rates* in the US have increased year-on-year on average by about 3% or more, with relative frequency. Each January seems to roll around and worked rates kind of take that familiar 3% jump.

“In the same vein, worked rates have been the main driver of revenue growth for US firms, where relatively flat demand over the past decade has left rates as one of the last levers firms can pull to boost the top and bottom line. So far in 2019, however, we’ve seen rates actually increase by an even greater amount in the US, where it’s been closer to 4% on average. Coupling that with relatively strong levels of demand seen recently of 1% growth in each of the past two years has lead to a corresponding increase in revenue of about 5%.

“So when we talk about Australia specifically, worked rate growth has not been as important a revenue-driver, especially over the past two years where we’ve seen demand surge in market to levels not seen elsewhere around the globe”

– Joe Blackwood, Analyst – Thought Leadership, Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor

“Reg tech” tipped to be a growth area

Joel Barolsky is the Managing Director of Barolsky Advisors and a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne. You may recognise Joel if you read the Australian Financial Review Legal Affairs section, where he has his own monthly column.

Expectations for organisations to stay compliant in the aftermath of the Hayne Royal Commission, Joel argues, will spur a major growth area in 2020. Pressure points – such as the recent string of celebrity chef employment law scandals splashed across the media and the new whistleblower protections – will prompt a greater attention to corporate compliance.

“We have a renewed focus on regulatory compliance, so [the focus is whether]…companies [are] actually meeting their regulatory obligations or are they paying their staff their full entitlements?”, said Joel.

“Many, many organisations are principally driven by directors, looking to assess whether the business is actually complying with the law”

– Joel Barolsky, Managing Director of Barolsky Advisors and a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne

He emphasised that firms are investing in “reg tech”, the technologies providing regulatory support for organisations. “But more and more law firms are also playing their role in this particular field,” he added. 

The future of law firm innovation

Eric Chin is Principal of Alpha Creates and he consults for law firms across the Asia Pacific. Eric shared his thoughts on the live polling results from the webinar. A poll revealed that only 59% of law firm legal professionals viewed their law firms as innovative, with 41% saying their law firm is not innovative enough and it can do better.

“That’s really interesting…because it correlates pretty much with what we’ve seen in the market, in that, 50% of the largest law firms in Australia have their own innovation function,” said the Alpha Creates Principal. 

In Eric’s view, the adoption of legal technology traditionally trended towards improving the “business of law”, through the adoption of practice management solutions, file management solutions and knowledge management systems. However, the current law firm trend is implementing technologies which enhance the “practice of law”.

“What we’ve seen recently is a move from the the business of law into the practice of law, which is why we are seeing an increase in legal tech solutions that are geared towards improving lawyer productivity. That’s a big game changer in the market”

– Eric Chin, Principal, Innovation and Strategy,
Alpha Creates

According to the Alpha Creates Principal, the same data points can be seen in legal departments. For instance, in-house legal teams are increasingly looking at their service providers for better, faster, cheaper solutions. In some cases this results in implementing, or making use of, more legal technologies. 

Where to next?

During the webcast, Catherine said she was pleased to hear how law firms are investing in legal technology, as a part of their future development and business growth, which Thomson Reuters aims to support through its legal solutions. 

“We are passionate about legal innovation and dedicated to offering solutions that really help the profession to be effective, efficient and profitable”

– Catherine Roberts, Global Strategic Client Director, Thomson Reuters Legal, Asia and Emerging Markets

As the moderator also noted, Australia’s legal industry continues to outperform the majority of global legal markets in terms of growth, so it will be interesting to see how the next 12 months play out. 

Play our informative Thomson Reuters webinar to hear the legal market insights of experts.

The Legal Insight team is made up of our very own team of Thomson Reuters’ local and international journalists and editors. Our contributors offer a wealth of knowledge and thought leadership on the latest legal technologies and innovations, industry best practice and trends, and legislative and case law developments.

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