Shifting the Legal Industry with Technology
The legal industry appears to be undergoing a significant shift as technology and the Internet become more intertwined with the delivery of legal services. The industry seems to be transitioning from episodic representation to a sophisticated client nurturing system. Lawyers are now more focused than ever on nurturing and engaging clients, which is key to increasing clients’ lifetime values and improving client experiences.
And yet, as most law firms know, the legal system—and the rules governing how lawyers are permitted to interact with clients—rarely feels as though it has been designed or intended to help clients and lawyers build and maintain successful working relationships.
More lawyers are beginning to realize that the legal industry and the way that lawyers practice law needs to be rethought completely. Moreover, lawyers and clients are discovering that the client’s role in many practice areas is shifting from a passive client to an active participant with agreed-upon responsibilities and duties.
Simply put, the legal industry is recognizing the benefits of changing the way clients interact with lawyers. As such, many law firms are seeking ways to focus and enhance client interaction to better assist lawyers in procuring clients.
Despite the significant shifts that have already taken place in how lawyers and law firms engage and nurture clients, the legal industry, for the most part, is resolute in its decision to ignore technology and data-driven decision-making.
While it is becoming common for law firms to gather client data and manage clients using client relations management software, also known as CRM, the vast majority of lawyers and law firms have not even begun to see the costs that CRM imposes on businesses.
For the “modern” law firm that utilizes CRM, consistent data entry and record-keeping is helpful to improving client relations and reducing mistakes. However, CRM, for all its positive contributions to the improvement of one’s practice, is ineffective and inefficient because lawyers and paralegals are still required to manually enter each and every data segment. Moreover, lawyers and paralegals can spend countless hours shifting through the data, notes and documents that have been manually scanned in order to answer the simplest of questions for a client.
There can be little doubt that lawyers and paralegals who use a CRM actually hate the work that maintaining a CRM creates. But for many law firms, having a functional CRM is the epitome and height of technology integration in business. The problem is that CRMs, for the most part, have not changed much since the early 2000s, even though most law firms only began to use them within the last several years.
If you pause for a moment and consider Amazon.com (with its product recommendations and referrals to similar products), you’ll find that this website and the way it tracks your purchasing habits is more technologically sophisticated than most legal CRMs that are available to lawyers and law firms today. It is shocking to think that lawyers live in a world where Amazon.com’s ordering recommendations are commonplace but legal CRMs are functionally unhelpful and basic.
With data-driven decision-making algorithms and machine learning, law firms should be experiencing a great level of efficiency from their CRMs, perhaps permitting lawyers and paralegals to focus on building and nurturing client relationships.
While this sounds farfetched, machine learning and predictive data algorithms are almost commonplace in other industries. Imagine how productive your practice could be if your CRM was able to predict which client needed a follow-up letter or which insurance adjuster was going to dispute the medical treatment. Data analytics is the beginning point of industry efficiency.
The significant and glaring limitations of current legal CRMs are made more obvious when compared against other industries’ data-driven and predictive analytics. It is unfortunate that the shallow and unhelpful legal CRMs are far from obsolete and that the days of a CRM being a mere case tracker are far from over.
It goes without saying that the legal industry as a whole is slow to adopt new technologies and step outside of its comfort zone.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h