Change in Working Practices with the Adoption of Hybrid Working

An excerpt from the Legal Resource Management Report, Part 1: Change in Working Practices with the Adoption of Hybrid Working

The global pandemic affected every business, in every industry – and for many law firms it meant a reduction in lawyer headcount. According to the BigHand research, most firms in North America (NA) (94%) and the UK (93%) permanently or temporarily reduced lawyer headcount / hours – as well as 32% of Asia Pacific (APAC) firms.  With people the most important asset to the legal industry, irrespective of the sise or practice type of the firm, a dramatic shift in lawyer numbers has a significant implication – from matter profitability to client relationships.

Working practices have also changed dramatically, with lawyers keen to embrace the flexibility offered by hybrid working: four fifths (80%) of lawyers in NA, 78% in the UK and 56% in APAC are working outside of office hours.  

Attitudes about hybrid working vary across the world, with firms in NA and the UK more open to flexibility than firms in APAC. Most firms (65% NA, 57% UK) expect lawyers to work away from the office three days or more a week. A further 26% NA, 34% UK expect lawyers to work away from the office one to two days per week – which means almost all firms are expecting some form of long-term hybrid working.  In APAC, 82% of firms expect individuals to work remotely between one and two days each week, with the rest of the time spent in the office.

Future Possibilities

There is growing recognition of the value that hybrid working can deliver – if approached correctly. Over two fifths (41%) NA, 44% UK and 17% APAC firms, say hybrid working will remove lawyer preference for specific support staff for better work allocation to the most appropriate resource and 37% NA, 36% UK, 82% APAC say it will improve work/life balance for employees. Indeed, the shift to remote working over the past 18 months has raised many firms’ awareness of the need to reconsider work allocation processes - reviewing how efficiently work is allocated from partners to associates is a priority for 45% NA, 44% UK, 31% of APAC firms.

The operational benefits are also recognised – from improving the ability to share work between offices (35% NA, 37% UK, 21% APAC) to making it easier to move work to low-cost resources (33% NA, 32% UK, 12% APAC) and increasing around the clock support due to flexible working hours (39% NA, 29% UK, 10% APAC). Cutting the cost of office real estate (39% NA, 33% APAC, 26% UK,) and making it easier to recruit new staff (30% NA, 22% APAC, 29% UK) are additional benefits.

However, the survey confirms the huge strides firms will have to make to achieve these benefits. Today, the majority lack the insight required to achieve the changes in the way work is allocated, managed and completed to effectively manage a hybrid workforce.

Firms recognise the importance of better resource management to improve profitability, enhance client relationships and support DEI commitments. The vast majority (98% NA, 99% UK and 86% APAC) of firms are reviewing their resourcing processes – confirming that... Resource Management has become a vital component of law firm operations and a big strategic focus.


This was an excerpt from The Legal Resource Management Report. Access the full report to dive deeper into the findings from over 900 legal management professionals:

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