Notwithstanding the unprecedented events of 2020 with the effects of the Pandemic pushing almost all aspects of life online, the once held views of many in the legal profession that the sector would remain unchallenged by digitisation have proven untrue. It is a certainty that society will always require legal services, and for the first time we can say without any doubt that the way in which legal services will be sought, bought and provided as we go forwards is online.
The advent of digitisation has been changing the very structure of the industry, the traditional partnership model has been declining with the increase in legal technology allowing new, disruptive law firms to establish along with the relaxing of SRA regulations allowing more solicitors to practice freelance.
Removing the costs associated with the running of a traditional law firm allows these alternative models to offer clients legal services at a more competitive price. But if we consider why these modifications are occurring within the legal industry it is clear that it is indeed the clients themselves driving change.
Other market sectors such as the financial industry have experienced this unforeseen leverage by clients, being forced to change with widespread development and adoption of Fin Tech in recent years. Let’s consider the client comportment affecting the legal sector;
Affordable legal services
For a long time clients have considered the traditional legal industry to be intimidating and unapproachable with confusing pricing which does not represent good value for money. With most other goods and services searchable online for quality and price comparison, clients are increasingly demanding price transparency and value for money legal services.
Firms who have embraced legal tech solutions, particularly AI, are already reaping the reward. With legal tech programmes and applications, solicitors can save hours of work which would otherwise be billed to the client, reviewing documents and contract writing for example.
Software which does this in moments at a fraction of the cost allows solicitors to pass on the saving to the client. A firm which can do the job with greater efficiency at a lower cost than its competitors will always fare better with clients, squeezing out the more traditional practitioners.
Loyalty is no longer
Going back a few decades, most clients would remain loyal to law firm, due to locality and convenience and because it was considerably harder to compare quality and price without the internet. However, law firms are not unlike other service providers being at the command of clients.
In an age where an online customer review is but a click away, firms can no longer rely on lifelong client loyalties in a market where there is great choice from similar and equally qualified practitioners.
Law firms must stand out from the crowd, using digital marketing to build an online image that clients want. Clients don’t just want a service anymore, they want information, data and expertise. Firms must prove to clients that they are the experts in their field by producing useful and relevant online content on their websites and social media platforms to engage potential clients.
In an age where almost anything can be purchased from anywhere in the world at the click of a button, consumers in general expect more for less. Speed of delivery, quality of service and competitive pricing are now an expectation for clients seeking legal services.
Firms can find increased success by tapping into these expectations; by being available for clients 24/7 using methods like online chat or text message for example, giving clients that level of personal service that will result in a client choosing them over another firm who doesn’t.
Clients have changed
Clients of today’s digital age are accustomed to being constantly bombarded with marketing, thereby creating an audience who is selective about the services they buy into. Such clients desire to choose firms at the top of the market, experts in their field.
As discussed above, loyalty is fleeting, clients want hard data and information accessible at their fingertips in order to make decisions. Clients are searching for data rich content through social media, firms need to show clients how their technology can benefit them and their business with accuracy, faster more efficient service and ultimately cheaper prices.
Whether, as an industry, we like it or not, the changing behaviour in clients has already embedded and altered the legal sector irreversibly. For future looking law firms and lawyers, the focus should be upon how they deliver legal services rather than the service itself in order to meet the needs and expectation of today’s digital clients.