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Bar survey finds Florida lawyers confident in technological adaptation and innovation

Editor Top Stories

The Florida BarWith technology rapidly transforming the legal landscape, The Florida Bar’s 2024 Membership Opinion Survey unveils a striking trend — an overwhelming 80% of respondents feel they are adeptly adapting to the increasing prevalence of technology in their legal practice.

In contrast, only 9% express disagreement with that sentiment, highlighting a clear consensus among Florida lawyers regarding their technological preparedness. Moreover, 72% of respondents believe that their firms or law offices are “sufficiently prepared” to navigate the future challenges facing the legal profession.

The optimistic outlook reflects a confidence in Florida lawyers’ ability to embrace innovation and evolve with the changing legal landscape. Additionally, 74% of respondents anticipate far greater changes in the legal profession over the next two decades than what has been witnessed in the previous century.

The survey also delved into the frequency with which Florida lawyers use various generative artificial intelligence (AI) applications and what impact they think AI will have on the profession going forward. While 32% of Florida lawyers say their level of understanding of generative AI is either “excellent or good,” a full 80% of those surveyed say they do not currently use generative AI in their legal practices. A separate story on the Bar survey’s AI findings may be accessed here.

The 2024 Membership Opinion Survey was emailed to 3,140 randomly selected Bar members, and 23% of the surveys were returned, with an error of estimation rate of just over 3% at the 95% level of confidence, according to Mike J. Garcia, the Bar’s director of Research, Planning & Evaluation.

The survey also found that 53% of respondents say the public’s view of lawyers and the legal profession over the past five years has become less favorable, with only 2% saying it has improved.

The best way to improve the public’s view of lawyers and the legal profession? Here is what the respondents had to say:

  • Public education about the legal system/benefits of why and when people need to hire a lawyer, 29%
  • Maintaining quality within the judiciary, 21%
  • Greater number of positive news stories about lawyers, 18%
  • Public perception of lawyers/legal profession cannot be significantly changed, 14%
  • Increased prosecution of lawyers for ethics violations, 8%
  • Other, 10%

The most frequently mentioned response under the “Other” category involves banning or limiting lawyer advertising.

Just over half (51%) of respondents agree that the legal needs of Florida’s citizens are currently being met, compared to one-quarter (25%) who disagree.

Some 90% of those surveyed who participated in a Florida Bar CLE seminar in the past year rated the overall quality of the program as excellent/good, compared to only 2% who rate it as poor.

When it comes to career satisfaction, 70% of respondents report the profession is becoming “somewhat” or “much less” desirable as a career, including 80% of those 35 years of age or younger. Yet, 78% of those polled also agree that they are satisfied with their legal careers, compared to 14% who say they aren’t.

While over two-thirds, or 70%, of all respondents agree that their work and personal life has good balance, only 25% say they are optimistic about future career prospects for young lawyers entering the profession, compared to nearly half (48%) who disagree.

Slightly more than half (51%) of all respondents report that they provided free legal services within the past year to people of limited means, while 37% responded that they did not take any pro bono cases in the past year.

But a slightly higher 56% of all respondents said they are likely to provide pro bono services in the next 12 months, compared to 36% who indicate they are unlikely to do so or said the question is not applicable to their employment situation.

Eighty-three percent believe lawyer advertising negatively affects the public’s view of lawyers and the legal profession. Only 8% percent say advertising has a favorable effect on the public’s view of lawyers. Another 9% said advertising has no effect at all.

Of the several types of lawyer advertising, 43% of respondents report that television advertising by lawyers has the most negative effect on the public’s view of lawyers and the legal profession. Billboards, at 32%, are also reported with significant frequency as a negative.

The percentage of respondents who believe TV is the form of lawyer advertising that most negatively affects the public’s view of lawyers and the profession has decreased from 60% in 2015 to 43% now, while the percentage of respondents who believe billboards are the form of advertising that most negatively affect the public’s view of lawyers and the legal profession has increased from 20% in 2015 to 32% in 2024.

The survey also found 67% of members believe the current restrictions on lawyer advertising are “too liberal,” compared to 22% who say they are “balanced,” and 11% who say they are “too restrictive.”

Seventy-two percent of respondents report their firms or legal offices do not advertise.

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