The end of Legal-Aid, the full roll-out of the Legal Services Act 2007 and the resultant increase in fixed-fee pricing, have triggered significant changes in the legal industry.
A further change has occurred through the ubiquity of mobile devices, the internet and the vast availability of online information; even detailed information that a decade ago clients would have called up a solicitor to obtain.
Today, your clients are likely to do much of the groundwork themselves via Google and a multitude of advise forums. Personal law is supported by niche legal services companies and commercial clients have become savvier. Larger-scale commercial clients are more likely to procure legal services through a competitive “Solicitor Panels”, approach combined with awarding of work based on price and quality (attainment of SLAs).
How can your law firm exploit these changes brought about by a permanently-connected, savvy client-base with vast amounts of information at their fingertips?
The simple answer is to work smarter and remove as many barriers to business as possible. Furthermore, while email has undoubtedly transformed Law firm communications and operations, a typical firm continues to handle an incredible number of paper documents.
Aggressive targets to remove paper from processes will yield benefits. “Truncating Paper at the Source” should be the mantra as this is proven to deliver on the promise of slashing costs and drive efficiencies while significantly improving responsiveness and security too.
Your fee earner teams will adapt to working with electronic copies of inbound documents for the vast majority of cases; electronic documents provide many options for automation that simply aren’t possible with paper. Notably, if it means better service, your clients will willingly work with you by securely submitting ad hoc paper documents via a smartphone app or mobile web portal.
Innovations like eSignature and self-service for standard documents send an important signal to the client that the firm is in the 21st century rather the 19th.
These innovations are not expensive and don’t involve wholesale changes to the case management and content management facilities already in place; better still, they can be approached incrementally. Combining a paper-reduction initiative with a cohesive Information Management strategy and convenient facilities for clients will allow the firm to position itself as a trusted, go-to source of information.
Once a paper-reduction strategy is in place, you’ll be amazed at how many other operational problems get swept up and removed at the same time.
Read how the Goldsmith Williams legal firm made this transformation via automation.