Fast Fact:

• On average, solo practitioners suffer fewer security breaches than law firms with two or more lawyers. Only 19% of solos said they had suffered a breach compared with 42% of lawyers in firms with 10 to 49 lawyers.

The number of computer security breaches reported by lawyers surveyed has doubled in the past four years, according to the American Bar Association’s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report.

Overall, 29% of lawyers said their firms experienced a security breach in 2020 (for example, lost or stolen computer or smartphone, hack, break-in or exploited website), compared with 14% in 2016. That number has gone up every year since 2016.

Two-thirds of lawyers who reported a security breach (67%) said their firms suffered no significant business disruption or loss. Even so, 34% said the breach caused some down time or a loss of billable hours.

Viruses, spyware and malware were reported as common problems, but that threat is slowly dwindling. In 2020, 36% of lawyers said their law firm technology had been infected at some point in the past. That’s down from 40% in 2018 and 43% in 2017.

Most law firms use spam filters (81%), anti-spyware (76%), a firewall (74%) and popup blockers (72%). Less than half (43%) say they encrypt their files.

To protect from losses caused by cyber breaches, about a third of lawyers (36%) said their firms have cyber liability insurance. That number has tripled in the past five years. It was just 11% in 2015.

Online Research

Fast Facts:

• Only 7% of lawyers say their firms use artificial intelligence-based technology tools. That figure is substantially higher at large law firms with 500 lawyers or more (28%).

• 22% think artificial intelligence tools will become mainstream in the legal profession in the next three years. Six percent say they are already mainstream.

The typical lawyer spends, on average, 18% of his or her time conducting legal research, according to the ABA’s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report. That’s roughly the same as in 2019 (17%), 2018 (18%) and 2017 (16%).

When lawyers begin a research project, roughly one-third (38%) say they start with a general search engine like Google. Roughly another third (30%) start with a paid online resource and 12% start with a free state bar-sponsored legal research service.

Most lawyers (59%) say they regularly use free online resources to conduct legal research, and nearly as many (56%) regularly use fee-based online resources for research. When asked which paid online legal research service they use most often, more than half of all lawyers (53%) say Westlaw. One-fourth (25%) say Lexis Advance.

Asked which one free website they use most often for legal research, the most popular answer was government websites (21%), followed by Cornell’s Legal Information Institute and FindLaw (each 19%), Fastcase (15%) and Google Scholar (10%).

Despite the popularity of online sources, many lawyers (40%) say they still regularly use print materials for legal research. Seven percent say they never use print materials during research.

When it comes to getting legal news, the most preferred paid online legal news source is Law360 (41%), followed by the Wall Street Journal (22%).

Social Media

Fast Facts:

• Nearly half of all lawyers (47%) say their firms have a social media policy. That increases to 90% for large firms of 500 lawyers or more.

• The bigger the law firm, the more likely it has a blog. 64% of firms with 100 lawyers or more have a blog. Only 6% of solo practitioners do.

Law firms and lawyers maintain a significant presence on social media, according to the ABA’s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report. Four out of five lawyers (81%) say their firms are on social networks.

Four out of 10 lawyers (42%) say their firms use LinkedIn for marketing. Other common marketing tools and websites include event sponsorships (48%), email (41%), Facebook (33%), print (21%), Twitter (16%), direct mail (14%), Avvo (13%), (13%), Yellow Pages (12%) and FindLaw (8%).


The great majority of lawyers (77%) personally use or maintain a presence on social media for professional purposes. The most popular networks are LinkedIn (88%), Facebook (39%), Twitter (23%), Martindale (15%), Avvo (14%) and Instagram (13%). One in four lawyers (29%) said a client retained their legal services as a result of social media use.

Few law firms blog. Only 27% of lawyers said their firms have blogs. Even fewer lawyers personally blog. Only 5% of lawyers personally maintain a legal-topic blog. Of those, 8% post daily, 24% weekly, 40% monthly and 16% said they’ve stopped updating. Nearly half of all bloggers (46%) said a client retained their services because of their blog.

Top Social Network Sites Used by Law Firms

(Among the 81% of law firms that maintain a presence on social networks)

LinkedIn – 76% (down from 79% in 2019)
Facebook – 60% (up from 54% in 2019)
Martindale – 35% (down from 38% in 2019)
Avvo – 22% (down from 23% in 2019)
Twitter – 37% (up from 21% in 2019)

Hardware and Software

By far, the most common smartphone for lawyers is the iPhone (79%). Only 18% use an Android phone and just 1% still use a Blackberry.

The use of laptops continues to rise: 47% said a laptop is their primary work computer, up from 39% three years ago. Just under half (49%) say their main work computer is a desktop, down from 60% three years ago. Only 1% said a tablet is their main computer.

When it comes to legal-specific software available at law firms, software used for conflict checking (63%) and case/practice management (52%) are common, but specialized practice software (37%) and docket/calendaring rule-based software (38%) are not.