UK legal departments are less likely to be using innovative technologies

Where an organization is based affects the technologies being used by its legal department, according to the latest Sharplegal research from Acritas, who discovered that it is legal departments in UK organizations that should be most concerned.

Market research experts Acritas have been investigating how innovation and technologies in the legal industry are evolving, based on first-hand experiences of over 2,000 senior in-house counsel.

Upon analysis of feedback on innovation, provided during their 2017 global Sharplegal survey, Acritas noticed there was a lot of focus on new technologies. So in 2018, their Sharplegal research began investigating this area further and quickly identified notable differences across geographies, in the technologies being used and not used by legal departments.

A number of different technologies were tested from virtual deal rooms through to AI.

Legal departments in UK organizations are definitely falling behind the curve, with 25% not using any of the technologies Acritas investigated, compared to 11% in the US. In fact, UK in-house counsel are less likely to be using every technology tested in the Sharplegal survey.

E-signatures are used by 61% of US legal departments compared to 49% of Mainland European and 37% of UK legal departments. E-discovery is used by nearly four times as many legal departments in the US than their European counterparts. Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO at Acritas said: “We expected the US to lead on the use of litigation related technologies, but the UK is using less of everything we tested.”

However, the US wasn’t leading on everything, some new technologies were used more by European legal departments. For example, searchable knowledge-bases are used by 48% of legal departments working in European organizations, compared to 25% of US and 16% of UK corporate legal departments.   

Lisa added: “A lack of use doesn’t necessarily relate to an aversion. When under so much pressure to manage risk and drive up the value delivered by their corporate legal departments, change can be pushed back down the agenda. But for GCs looking to improve efficiency, understanding which technologies are working well for other legal departments around the world can be invaluable.”


To access Acritas’ benchmarking for Legal Departments, GCs or equivalent senior in-house counsel must complete a 25-minute Sharplegal telephone interview. Interviews can be scheduled by contacting Acritas via Law firms interested in clients’ buyer behavior trends and future needs must purchase a Sharplegal research package from Acritas which can be done by contacting Jo Aitken at



Acritas runs the annual Sharplegal survey, conducting over 2,000 interviews with senior in-house counsel in in the world’s largest organizations to uncover vital insights about the future of the market and the needs of existing and target clients, as well as track the performance of firms, in terms of brand and service attributes year on year.

The complete Sharplegal survey includes more than 50 questions including a range of questions relating to legal departments’ goals, challenges, buying behaviors, perceptions and experiences with external providers.

So far in 2018 (January – June), 1339 senior in-house buyers have shared with Acritas details of the innovations and technologies being used by their legal departments from virtual deal rooms to AI, from e-signatures to document management software and much more.

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