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TechReport 2020: Litigation & TAR


The Litigation & TAR report is sponsored by H5.

ABA TechReport combines information from the annual ABA Legal Technology Survey Report with professional evaluation, observations, and predictions from leaders within the authorized know-how area. Every Monday we’ll be posting a brand new report from one among our specialists, so keep tuned!

The 2020 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report was carried out between March and May of 2020, simply because the COVID-19 pandemic was starting. As a end result, it might not wholly replicate the utilization of know-how and developments immediately. Nor might it particularly replicate practices as soon as courts totally reopen—in no matter style that could be. The “Litigation Technology & E-Discovery” quantity was final fielded in 2018 and returned in 2020.

Key Takeaways

The key takeaways from the 2020 Survey concerning using know-how within the courtroom, coaching, and e-discovery are as follows:

  • The use of the billable hour remains to be the first technique of billing by respondents. The common proportion of charges billed by respondents utilizing the billable hour technique was 70%.
  • The respondents’ demographics considerably skew towards older, extra skilled attorneys.
  • The variety of attorneys not utilizing know-how within the courtroom continues to say no sharply. The use of trial presentation know-how by massive agency attorneys is fairly customary however not by smaller companies. The forms of duties attorneys are performing with know-how within the courtroom have gotten extra various, suggesting a better sophistication and luxury.
  •  Mandatory and voluntary digital courtroom filings in state and native courts proceed to extend and have develop into the norm. E-discovery requests proceed to rise and are mainstream. Yet many attorneys nonetheless use no e-discovery options, and a large proportion (nearly 25%) nonetheless do no early case assessments.
  • The proportion of attorneys utilizing predictive coding and technology-assisted evaluate methods considerably became greater, maybe suggesting these instruments are lastly catching on. Simple options and key phrase looking stay the first e-discovery instruments of selection.
  • The troubling know-how hole between massive companies and small companies in total sources and know-how use continues to exist. In the courtroom, this implies appreciable benefits in numerous methods, together with trial shows. In the e-discovery world, this equates to became greater use of software program and consultants by massive companies, whereas small companies battle alongside the most effective they will. This hole continues to have repercussions for the standard of service to under-served authorized wants and smaller companies’ continued well being that play such a key function in society.
  • While using litigation help and trial presentation software program is rising, the share of companies actively investing in these kind of software program in 2018 was beneath 6%. This may recommend a common belt-tightening or a minimum of enhance warning. Again, remember that the 2020 Survey was carried out originally of the pandemic.


Sixty-seven % of the respondents had been from companies of lower than 50 attorneys (in comparison with 83% in 2018). This skews the outcomes barely: companies with 50+ attorneys sometimes have extra IT and know-how sources. Also, the survey measurement of among the bigger companies (500+) was small (16%), thus the responses from this restricted quantity might not particularly replicate what is going on in these bigger companies.

The respondents’ common age was near 58 (just like 2017) and 57% of the respondents reported training 30 years or extra. The most important variety of associate respondents had been 60+ (54%). These ages and years spent in observe may impression the outcomes. While many on this age group could also be early adopters and totally conversant and comfy with know-how, additionally they got here of age as attorneys when know-how was not as ubiquitous as it’s immediately.

It’s additionally necessary to notice that the 2020 Survey was directed to attorneys in non-public observe solely—not in-house attorneys who, as shoppers, might in the end drive extra modifications throughout the board.

On the plus aspect, a lot of the responses had been from these whose main observe space was litigation (29%). 69% of respondents report they practiced within the courtroom.

Most of the respondents stay male: 69% had been male versus 65% in 2018.

The Billable Hour

One exceptional discovering: the billable hour remains to be the first billing mechanism (utilized by 70% of the respondents in comparison with 60% within the 2018 Survey). From 2017 to 2018, this quantity declined some 10%, however the 2020 Survey discovered that this technique stays well-liked.

Use of Mobile Devices within the Courtroom

The proportion of attorneys not utilizing know-how within the courtroom continues to drop: 17% in 2020 in comparison with 21% in 2018, 43% in 2017, 45% in 2016, 51% in 2015, and 54% in 2014. Whether this displays the adoption by extra states of Comment eight to Model Rule 1.1 (requiring that attorneys saved abreast of developments in know-how), the became greater availability of sources and value decreases, or some mixture of all these and different elements is unknown.

Laptop use within the courtroom has became greater to 57% of respondents versus 50% in 2018, 57% in 2017, 55% in 2016, and 49% in 2015. The excessive reported use of laptops might replicate legal professional choice over tablets and different cell gadgets, or maybe this may be defined by the truth that laptops proceed to morph into hybrids (just like the Microsoft Surface Pro or Lenovo Yoga), and the previous terminology and distinctions between the normal laptop computer and pill proceed to blur.

Respondents from bigger companies (100+) are more likely to make use of laptops within the courtroom.

The high makes use of for laptops within the courtroom have shifted a bit because the 2018Survey:

  • 39% to entry vital proof and paperwork (29% in 2018)
  • 34% to entry e-mail
  •  32% to entry courtroom dockets and paperwork (25% in 2018)
  • 31% to do authorized analysis
  • 25% to ship shows (a proportion that curiously has remained comparatively fixed regardless of enhancements in know-how).

New makes use of embody connecting to courtroom audio and video methods (23%), calendaring (22%), and accessing agency networks (21%). These further usages point out extra sophistication.

The hole between the share of huge agency respondents who use laptops and different know-how to ship shows within the courtroom and solo and small agency respondents continues to exist. This discrepancy in using the persuasive methods afforded by know-how stays troubling.

83% of respondents report utilizing smartphones within the courtroom, which has remained comparatively per that reported within the 2018 Survey. As highly anticipated, essentially the most vital use of smartphones within the courtroom is to verify for e-mail and calendaring. The least-cited use was for on-line analysis.

The variety of respondents who reported utilizing tablets within the courtroom (33%) remained the identical as in2018. The high makes use of of the pill within the courtroom had been calendaring, accessing courtroom information, and real-time communications. The variety of massive agency respondents utilizing tablets within the courtroom decreased barely from 32% within the 2018 to 26% in 2020. The remaining classes of companies utilizing tablets additionally dropped barely..


Again, the variety of respondents with coaching in courtroom applied sciences, whereas low, continues to enhance (43% in 2020 versus 34% in 2018, 31% in 2017, and 28% the yr earlier than that). As suspected, the massive companies (100+ attorneys) paved the way in coaching.

Interestingly, managing companions of companies are most probably to report having obtained know-how coaching. This coaching by managing companions might replicate that managing companions are utilizing know-how to grasp agency economics higher.

The coaching that exists immediately appears primarily to be realized on the job as attorneys observe earlier than utilizing instruments dwell in courtrooms (68%) and coaching carried out by the courts themselves (54%).

Why do some attorneys get no coaching? Lawyers from bigger companies (100+) say it’s as a result of they sometimes observe within the courtroom. Solos usually tend to report an absence of availability (25%). Almost 30% of these total with none coaching say it’s simply not crucial for no matter cause.

Thirty-six % of attorneys utilizing know-how within the courtroom say they function it themselves and 17% say they nonetheless by no means use know-how within the courtroom.


The hottest software program getting used remains to be litigation support-related (out there in 49% of the companies in 2020 versus 38% in 2018), adopted by deposition transcription/administration software program (out there in 39% of the companies in 2020 versus 32% in 2018) and trial presentation software program (out there in 36% of the companies in 2020 versus 27% in 2018). These numbers are all considerably larger than the 2018 Survey, reflecting extra vital and maybe extra refined utilization.

Eighty-four % of companies of 100+ report agency availability of litigation software program versus 13% of solos, 40% of companies with 2-9 attorneys, and 56% of 10-49 attorneys. This discrepancy continues to replicate the disparity in know-how utilization between the haves and have nots.

The hottest litigation software program stays Relativity (47%), CaseMap (26%), Summation Pro (18%), and Concordance (17%)

Only 5% of the respondents mentioned their agency had bought litigation help software program within the six months previous the 2020 Survey. In the 7-12 month vary, solely 6% reported buying.

Why the reluctance to buy? It might be a common belt-tightening or the shortage of want for these instruments, given the decline in trials. Or it might be only a lack of demand by the attorneys within the companies. Perhaps among the software program beforehand bought is now out there in cloud-based purposes. It’s disturbing since litigation software program has many makes use of apart from purely trial observe.

When it involves trial presentation software program, 36% of respondents reported a capability, up from 27% in 2018. This enhance displays a better understanding of this software program as a persuasive system. As highly anticipated, the supply was proportional to agency measurement. 63% of companies of 100+ attorneys had it; solely 12% of solos did.

Seventeen % reported personally utilizing trial presentation software program. Again, there was a major distinction between these in massive companies and solos. Of these attorneys who used trial presentation software program, PowerPoint remained by far essentially the most frequent software program talked about, though different software program is gaining floor. 79% of respondents reported utilizing PowerPoint, 26% used Trial Director, 14% used TrialPad, and 13% used Summation. These numbers are comparatively per the 2018 findings.

Thirty-nine % of respondents reported the supply of deposition transcript administration software program at their companies, up from 32% in 2018. 63% of these in massive companies have this device, however solely 11% of solos. These numbers are per these present in 2018.

When it involves the cloud, 34% nonetheless need their software program to be housed internally, whereas 16% most popular the cloud. Remarkably, 20% had no thought; 14% had no choice. This proportion reveals both a lack of expertise of the distinction or no actual interest.

Electronic Filing and Documents

The frequency of digital filings with courtroom methods continues to extend and has develop into the norm. Overall, 83% (identical as 2018) of the respondents say they now file paperwork electronically with courts.

Forty-three % of the respondents who reported by no means submitting mentioned they didn’t understand how, and 29% mentioned the courts they observe in don’t permit it. Some key stats about digital submitting in state courts:

  • 6% say e-filing is voluntary of their courts
  • 47% say it’s necessary
  • 36% say it varies by the courtroom by which they observe
  • 16% say they don’t know if it’s out there

Review and Processing E-Discovery

The proportion of those that need to obtain e-discovery requests became greater to 70% in 2020. This proportion has regularly grown during the last a number of years. Again, the share varies, from a excessive of 72% at massive companies to solely 52% at solos.

And the variety of companies that report being intertwined in a case that required e-discovery likewise varies with agency measurement. 73% of respondents in companies of 100+  versus solely 29% of solos.

Forty-one % of respondents reported they use no e-discovery answer. Most attorneys at bigger companies choose an all-in-one answer to e-discovery mends (45%), whereas smaller companies choose a easy evaluate answer. Very few attorneys at companies of any measurement report wanting a complicated evaluate answer. 41% report they by no means use an e-discovery answer. 23% of all attorneys nonetheless don’t carry out an early case evaluation.

The main answer utilized by attorneys of all companies stays key phrase looking. Significantly, although, the variety of attorneys utilizing predictive coding doubled in 2020 to 24%, up from solely 12% in 2018. And 31% reported utilizing AI-assisted methods. 48% of huge agency attorneys use AI however solely 11% of solos do. This would recommend that these extra refined methods are lastly beginning to get some traction.

When it involves outsourcing, the variety of attorneys utilizing laptop forensic specialists for some cause declined from 33% in 2018 to solely 20% in 2020. Some 21% of attorneys report they don’t know in the event that they outsource, which frankly is a scary statistic given the moral obligations of attorneys in terms of e-discovery.

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