Branding: 18.06.20


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Post Covid-19 mood change in tech

Findings from our research among innovation and technology professionals working at the UK’s top 75 law firms indicate positive changes in attitude


One of the most positive outcomes of the current crisis could be the lessening of internal resistance and barriers to the adoption of tech. Firms have been promoting how tech can help their clients, and with positive feedback from clients, partners are increasingly using tech and engaging with innovations.

With clients ever more receptive to messaging around efficiencies and cost savings, and with obvious demand, it remains to be seen how quickly this will translate into investment. Inevitably, with constraints on budgets, any business case will need to be strong. Yet the very least, there have been positive changes in attitude, in favour of using tech and innovation.


These findings arose in a survey we conducted in early May among innovation and technology professionals working at the UK’s top 75 law firms (drawn from The Lawyer’s 2019 UK 200 report). Our aim was to understand more about the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on communications strategy and activity (both internal and external), and to get insights into how firms plan to move forward after the crisis.

 In early May, we decided to conduct a survey among innovation and technology professionals working at the UK’s top 75 law firms (from The Lawyer’s 2019 top 200 UK law firms). Our aim was to understand more about the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on communications strategy and activity (both internal and external) and to get insight into how firms are planning to move forward, post Covid-19.

We’ve now collated the responses we received from 12 firms – thanks to all who took part. Here are the results.

What is your firm’s turnover?

More than 65% of replies came from firms with revenues of £100m+ (in the top 40). Potentially these are organisations making greater investments in (and adopting more) technology and innovation than firms in other segments of the market.

Prior to lockdown, what techniques did you use to promote and harness innovation within your firm?

Firms responding said they used a mixture of techniques, with forums and champions the most popular: ten firms (83%) used forums and eight (67%) used champions.

Of other techniques:

  • six firms were using hackathons (50%)
  • six were using campaigns (50%)
  • five firms (42%) used crowdsourcing to promote and harness innovation.

Smaller numbers of firms mentioned other techniques such as ideation platforms (including Ideadrop) and collaborating with universities that have access to government funding.

How has the lockdown affected your communications and activities to promote and harness innovation within your firm?

Although one firm said it had “ground to a halt”, most are still showing a commitment to promote and harness innovation with the firm. Of firms surveyed, just over 40% said they were “doing less” than prior to lockdown, but 33% said they were doing more.

Post Covid-19, do you anticipate a change in mood from your partners toward the adoption of tech and innovation in your organisation?

The majority of firms responding (92%) anticipate a favourable mood change from partners toward increasing uptake of tech and innovation. Here are some of their comments:

  • “I think they will have experienced the need for tech and innovation.”
  • ‘Positively; partners will adopt more technology in the way they deliver their services and advice to clients: using portals, digital contracts, digital advice, electronic signatures, etc’
  • ‘[There will be] more willingness to use tech in service delivery and build tech-enabled products. [There will be] more willingness to engage with clients remotely and be more accessible to clients.’

Inevitably, others sounded notes of caution. Here’s a typical comment:

  • ‘Severe budgetary constraints – there will need to be a very strong business case for each proposal.’

Right now, what marketing communications are you providing to clients about your tech and innovation during the lockdown?

All firms are using this crisis to promote how their tech can help clients. A variety of approaches are being used, from developing guides to undertaking webinars and refreshing website content. For example, one firm is

  • “Building information portals for clients to get information and advice on topics that may be affecting them during lockdown.”

Half of the firms we surveyed are taking the opportunity to work and collaborate with clients on how to use tech more effectively when the crisis recedes.

Thinking about the current crisis and changes in legal operations, do you anticipate changing your messaging post Covid-19?

More than half of firms anticipate changing their messaging.

What’s the plan to do so? Comments we had back include the following:

  • “[It will be] a lot cleaner; more technology focused; more directed at cost saving efficiencies.”
  • “More commentary on complex solutions to complex problems, more business and leadership content. More case studies on clients. Less law firm.”

Coming out of the crisis, what will be your main marketing priority (for tech and innovation)?

For half of firms that responded, helping to develop revenue is the clear number one marketing priority. Other firms plan to support relationship building with clients and partners (42%). A smaller number of firms (8%) said the main priority is to enhance content to promote their own insights and expertise.

When reflecting back over the last month or so, what is one thing you have learnt about your approach to branding and communications that might influence how you do things post Covid-19?

Most firms mentioned building on previous positive impacts:

  • “[We are] able to leverage strong/positive client feedback to drive greater buy-in from our internal stakeholders.”
  • “We are even more joined up internally.”

One firm said it sees the crisis as a trigger to review its strategic communications (“[we] need to focus on purpose and resilience”) while others have been thinking hard about the future role of digital and virtual communications:

  • “Online and virtual communications have been hugely successful, [despite] prior scepticism.”
  • “[We’re] thinking more about how to get messages out using a broader mix of communications channels.”

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