Home-working: Older solicitors more likely to struggle with tech compared to younger colleagues, research finds

Avatar photo

By Aishah Hussain on

Do you know your Zoom from your Hangouts?

Older solicitors are more likely to struggle with tech compared with their younger colleagues in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and moves to more agile ways of working, a survey of small law firms has found.

Sixty-one percent of over 45s experience difficulties adapting to new technology when working from home, compared to 34% of under 45s. This was one of the key findings published today by LexisNexis in its annual Bellwether Report.

The 25-page report, ‘OMG or BAU [business as usual] — COVID-19 and the legal industry’, looks at the sweeping effects the novel virus has had on the legal industry. It is compiled using data from interviews and online surveys completed by over 150 solicitors in small firms and small offices of larger firms across England and Wales.

Law firms were able to move three-quarters (75%) of their staff to effective home-working within a matter of weeks of the lockdown being imposed, the research says, adding that the transition and provision of technology has been “smooth” despite almost a third of respondents claiming not to have a laptop prior to the lockdown.

“Technologies that have been resisted for years have now become a necessity — forcing the adoption of new ways and tools of working,” Chris O’Connor, small law lead at LexisNexis, told Legal Cheek.

Secure your place: The UK Virtual Law Fair Series 2020

Rather promisingly, the report has found that the current public health crisis has brought about a wellbeing change to the legal industry. Twenty-six percent of respondents consider stress and mental wellbeing to be a signifiant problem at work, compared to 90% in 2019. Further, almost half of respondents reported that they have seen a greater focus on their mental health in the wake of COVID-19 home-working.

The research looked at the main concerns affecting the opposing generations. For the older generation (who tend to make the decisions) it found the need to manage their firms remotely and get up to speed with new tech to be their paramount consideration. For juniors, isolation is their primary concern: two-thirds (66%) of junior lawyers feel isolated compared to 37% of senior (in age and experience) lawyers. They miss the buzz of the office and the networking opportunities it offers, the research finds, while reduced support and oversight from managers is also cited as a concern.

Looking to the future, more than half of younger solicitors want to retain some form of home-working after the crisis. But, interestingly, juniors are keener to return to the office in some form at least. It is seniors who are more likely to prefer working from home indefinitely in greater numbers.

O’Connor said: “Our 2020 research shows that whilst COVID-19 has brought new stresses and strains to the legal world, it appears to have been the long-awaited catalyst for action on wellbeing.”

He continued:

“But the story is complex. With COVID-19 suppressing business, work pressures have naturally eased. This will have helped to alleviate stress and reduce working hours. But as workload picks up — will this remain?”

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

Related Stories

Magic circle partner reveals how home-working has changed his life for the better

A&O funds lawyer Paul Sampson says he can now have dinner with his wife and read his kids a bedtime story

Jul 27 2020 9:09am

Future City trainee goes public with concerns about doing training contract remotely

'I struggle to see how this could truly be replicated virtually'

Jul 21 2020 9:18am

Two-thirds of lawyers experiencing high stress levels

Over half believe smaller firms offer a more supportive culture

Apr 26 2019 11:34am