SAN JUAN – The study on the legal services industry prepared annually by Microjuris.com together with the Technical Studies firm, and which was released this Tuesday, showed the challenges and adaptability of legal professionals in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study revealed that 59.3 percent of the legal professionals surveyed experienced a reduction in their salary or the number of hours worked during the pandemic.
This, despite the fact that in 2019 they experienced an increase of 2.4 percent in their average salary, compared to 2018.
“Our legal system is not only made up of institutions. Understanding the state of the law operators and operators is key to providing conditions that favor access to justice. This longitudinal study can guide the formulation of public policies that support a legal profession and industry that has adapted to the external challenges of recent years, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, ”explained the chief executive officer of Microjuris.com, the attorney Ataveyra Medina Hernández.
According to the study, 35.7 percent consider that their biggest challenge during the pandemic was migrating to remote work. Meanwhile, 30.6 percent of the legal professionals surveyed indicated that their greatest challenge was the decrease in their clientele.
The director of analysis and social policy of Technical Studies, Anitza María Cox Marrero, said that “the longitudinal view allows us to observe the changes in the work modalities of legal professionals after COVID-19 and how this affects the redefinition of legal practice and legal services ”.
In terms of adaptability, the survey results show that the number of lawyers who work from home increased by 11.9 percent.
During 2019, only 22.7 percent of legal professionals worked from home. In 2020, the figure reached 34.6 percent.
“The study shows a portrait of the trends of opportunity that can emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the increase in the use of technology to make the practice viable continues to increase. The diversification of the exercise of the legal profession is a trend that we must continue to look at ”, underlined the lawyer Medina Hernández.
The expression arises because there is an increase in the percentage of lawyers who practice the profession in private companies, local, state or federal government and in non-profit entities.
The study also shows that the number of legal professionals who say they will move from Puerto Rico in the next three years fell by 9.1 percent.
The study is a collaboration between the Microjuris company and the Technical Studies firm to provide a longitudinal measure of the legal services industry in Puerto Rico, its size, characteristics and trends.
The profile of the legal profession
The study had the participation of about 650 lawyers, of the almost 13,944 legal professionals who are licensed in Puerto Rico. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
The study reveals that 50.8 percent of legal professionals identify as male, 48.8 percent identify as female, and .05 percent identify as transgender.
The median age of male and female lawyers is 50 years. 50.5 percent have incomes that exceed $ 75,000 annually. 36 percent have graduate studies in addition to the Juris Doctor degree.
80 percent of lawyers have provided probono services at some point. 52 percent of legal professionals provided probono services in 2019.