Written by Claudia King, CEO / Founder of Automio
There’s a big gap between how lawyers deliver legal services and what clients want and need from their lawyers. I learned this in 2007 which was the year I became a lawyer, as well as being the year I first joined Facebook. Joining Facebook changed my life (sounds ridic, but it’s true). It sparked my interest in legal innovation and legal tech. While using Facebook I discovered a serious issue in the legal industry that I am now fiercely committed to solving.
Not long after joining Facebook, I joined a Facebook group for Kiwi small business owners. The purpose of it was for business owners to support each other by sharing business tips, advice and experiences.
I was surprised to see business owners posting legal questions in the group. And even more surprised to see who was answering these legal questions - the other business owners. I had heart palpitations when I read the answers given which were often wrong.
I began asking the group members posting legal questions why they weren’t asking their lawyers these questions.
This created an eye-opening discussion. The answers I got include:
I asked these people whether they were worried about getting wrong advice. They told me they knew the risks, and in the circumstances were happy to rely on answers from people with no legal training.
As a brand new lawyer full of hopes and dreams (lol), I was appalled that these business owners would rather get answers to their legal questions from randoms on Facebook with no legal training (and knowing there is a reasonably high chance that the answer they’re receiving is wrong), rather than get legal advice from their lawyer.
I am still a member of a number of business groups on Facebook, and can see that 11 years later this situation has not improved. It’s actually getting worse.
So this was the starting point of working towards my life’s purpose, which is to make quality legal help available to everyone, everywhere.
This is your wake up call.
We keep hearing about how AI bots are going to take lawyers’ jobs. But if people would rather get “legal advice” from a random person on Facebook who isn’t a lawyer, then I would argue that having your job taken by an AI at this point in time is reasonably far down the list of things to worry about.
There is a big gap between what the legal profession is offering, and what clients want and need. This presents a huge opportunity as lawyers can use technology, which is now readily available and affordable, as one of the tools to bridge that gap.
Unfortunately many lawyers are blowing this opportunity.
Firms need to start with a client-centric strategy first, and plan their technology second.
There are common themes among innovative lawyers using technology well - they are masters at strategy, planning and execution, with a strong sense of urgency and a real understanding of how they can better serve their clients. They care deeply about the client experience. They use technology and digital marketing in entrepreneurial ways to serve lower value clients and acquire new clients.
After speaking to a number of legal innovators recently about how they plan their tech, I noticed a number similarities between them. This is similar to how I used to plan the tech at my law firm, so I want to share with you some practical steps on how I did it.
Put a Word doc or a Google doc in landscape and create a table with 4 columns (or use a spreadsheet if you please):
I’ve created a template for this client-centric strategy doc that you can access and copy/download here.
To create, implement and review your client-centric firm strategies you need three groups of people:
If your firm is small you might have 1 or 2 people in each group - don’t let this put you off - smaller groups usually work better and get more done.
Every 2-3 months the strategic planning team meets with the legal tech team and the client experience team to hear reports on what they’re learning and the opportunities they see, and this would form the basis of creating and regularly reviewing the firm’s client-centric strategy doc.
Here is an example of how you could fill out your firm’s client-centric strategy doc:
To successfully execute your client-centric strategy doc you need everyone at your firm to buy into it - they need to become raving fans of the plan. Your firm will need good leadership to do this well. Getting your staff members to help by speaking to clients about how your law firm can better serve them, and researching the latest trends and thought leadership patterns, to help the legal tech and client experience teams will help get them fired up about this plan.
A lot of firms get bogged down in the planning process. It’s important that you don’t. A strong sense of urgency is needed. Otherwise the randoms on Facebook may end up giving your clients “legal advice” instead of you.
Keen to find out how former Solicitor-General of New Zealand, Michael Heron QC, is using intelligent automation to save time and improve the client experience?
Michael is the founder of CODR, an online dispute resolution platform, that uses Automio to improve access to justice. Check out Michael’s story here.