How intelligent drafting technology can help law firms meet increasing client expectations.
Facing stiffer competition than ever before, and operating against a backdrop of continued economic uncertainty thanks to both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, today’s law firms are quickly realising that – if they want to maintain their place in the market – they need to not only meet, but exceed client expectations.
At a time when clients are more demanding than ever, this is no easy feat. According to the 2020 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey, when it comes to a successful relationship with their law firms, customers report that overall value is far more important than price. They expect their law firms to understand them, to collaborate with them and to provide the specialisation and expertise they need – all while operating in a highly productive and efficient way.
Unfortunately, however, less than a third (31%) of lawyers are equipped to do this.
It’s time for things to change. In order to deliver the client service that is rapidly becoming a their most important competitive differentiator, today’s most forward-thinking law firms are acknowledging what their clients really want, and equipping themselves with the tools required to deliver on their expectations.
According to David Pester, a managing partner at law firm TLT, today’s clients expect much more than traditional legal advice. In a recent interview, he said that clients “look to their lawyers as true partners and consultants, able to bring a wide range of expertise to the table to deliver a successful outcome.”
Ultimately, it’s about ensuring that clients believe they are receiving not just value for money – but added value – from their advisers.
Clients are increasingly demanding faster turnaround times, so that they can react quickly to tighter internal deadlines and succeed in the drive to increase deal velocity. According to the Wolters Kluwer survey, 79% of legal clients say efficiency and productivity are important to them, but only 29% say this describes their current law firm very well.
At the same time, there is ever-growing pressure to control costs and increase profitability. The general move away from billing by the hour to fixed pricing reflects this, as does the expectation that ad hoc advice may not always be charged.
According to Mike Francies, London managing partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, clients expect their law firm to communicate regularly and to be transparent. “Different clients value different things but they all value transparency, responsiveness and market experience,” he said in a Q&A for Legal Business.
The quality of communication is also important. A comprehensive study covering the UK, Australia, and US, found that listening, explaining, and effective two-way communication – sometimes regarded as ‘hand-holding’ and ‘nice-to-have’ by lawyers – are so fundamental to client service that their absence would limit the lawyer’s effectiveness.
According to the Wolters Kluwer survey, 82% of lawyers predict that greater use of technology will change how they deliver service.
It’s something that clients are demanding too: 71% of clients report that, in choosing their law firm, “Uses technology to deliver the best service possible” is an important attribute. Clients are well aware of LegalTech solutions such as automated drafting and expect firms to be using them to deliver better, faster service.
They also expect their lawyers to use technology for communication and collaboration. Research by mmadigital found that 83% of current and future consumers prefer to deal with law firms online, believing this will keep costs to a minimum.
All of these key client demands are linked to making better use of lawyers’ time. And this can be done through the smart adoption of technologies that deliver real ROI.
Intelligent drafting technology, for example, has the power to radically reduce the time it takes to create entire suites of complex documents – by up to 90% on the first draft, and 100% on ancillaries.
This better use of technology means that clients’ routine document drafting can be serviced far more effectively and efficiently, and lawyers then have more time to spend on the bespoke and complex advice that clients want and value.
Want to discover smart technology that helps you meet and exceed client expectations? Download the eGuide How law firms are improving client experience with intelligent automated drafting.