"The American Bar Association conducts a yearly survey to determine how firms are using technology, ensuring strong data, and enabling network security.  This blog article summarizes their findings for 2020." 

Responding attorneys were solo practitioners
Responding at firms with 2-9 attorneys
practice area was litigation
Practice area was estate planning

Budget, Goals, and Policies

The larger the firm size, the more likely the firm is to budget for technology but generally technology budgets increased by 2%.

The most common priority for future tech spending goals was office hardware (30%) followed by mobile technology (17%).  Solo Practitioners and smaller firms were more likely to have no technology policies for governing technology with 58% reporting no policies for email, internet, or remote access.

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Security Tools

For the first time in the last four years, the ABA discovered that firms of 10-49 attorneys were not the most likely group to experience malware issues.  Firms with 2-9 attorneys this year with (45%) reporting malware and/or virus issues proved to be more vulnerable.  When asked about what tools are in use at your firm, respondents most frequently said spam filters (81%), anti-spyware (76%), and firewalls (74%).

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Security Breaches

Twenty-nine percent of respondents reported experiencing a security breach at some point.  Thirty-six percent of respondents reported having had a technology infected with viruses, spyware, or malware at some point.  Respondents reported that those infections resulted in consulting fees for repairs (39%), downtime/loss of billable hours (35%), and temporary loss of network access (23%)

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The larger the firm size, the more likely the firm is to budget for technology including security.  But, malware and virus activity is now more likely to infect the smaller firms.  Generally, the ABA survey for 2020 reports common themes from 2019.  The survey responses were collected before COVID-19, so next year's survey will probably reflect more technology spend to handle that crisis.

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