Small law firms are struggling with the adoption of digital platforms
Leena Iyar, Chief Brand Officer of OneStop platform Moxtra, explains how small law firms still struggle to adapt to the barriers of remote work environments and why adopting digital tools leads to a more positive customer experience.
What are the new challenges for law firms due to the pandemic?
Remote working environments have become the new “norm,” and with it, many new pandemic challenges have arisen for law firms large and small. For one, COVID-19 has improved business as usual and increased the new challenge of a rapid transition to digital business operations. Most law firms had struggled with integrating digital communications with their high-touch clients even before the pandemic. In such a high-profile industry, expectations of digital engagement rose even before the pandemic. Working remotely has highlighted the growing need for a fully digital office with secure and streamlined communication options such as video chat, direct messaging, and secure file sharing between clients and legal professionals in a controlled environment. Of course, resilient organizations are the ones that are adapting to the dying out of the standard business hours model, allowing customers to reach when it suits them and their legal teams to have digital tools to make it happen and a strong, supportive customer experience. However, many law firms are still stuck at the beginning of their digital transformation journey with no plan in place to prepare their businesses for the next shift in digital needs.
What are the common barriers lawyers face when it comes to digital adoption?
The legal sector deals with high stakes interactions and continues to rely on face-to-face interactions to provide customers with the level of personal service they have come to expect from this space. Legal practitioners lagged behind many industries in converting to digital technology, fearful not only of losing the personalization their customers were counting on, but also fear of security issues. Due to the sensitive nature of legal obligations, it is important that companies invest in a digital tool that values top-notch security features in order to give customers and professionals a sense of ease. There is also a fear of loss of productivity when attempting to incorporate digital tools into legal practices, although many digital solutions today can be used with minimal to no loss of productivity and adequate pre-launch training. The The pressure to provide high-touch support to clients with resource-constrained remote operations has been a challenge for many law firms. However, digital solutions complement the expectations clients have of legal services by providing a means to maintain continuous interaction across space and time in a familiar and needs-based manner. The challenges of remote operations have given lawyers a silver lining who must now focus on the long-term development of changing customer expectations and behavior.
What would you say to lawyers who are reluctant to digitally transform their business?
Strong relationships with clients are critical to running a successful law firm. Nowadays, digital tools are an essential part of that success. Digital tools have proven to be an extension of personal experience that is not always possible in the current environment. However, the on-demand value they provide to customers remains in the post-COVID work landscape. Another beneficial aspect of a digital office is that it can easily take on more accounts and clients at the same time, so law firms can increase their revenue from the digital efficiencies it creates. Digital solutions are becoming increasingly popular as consumers continue to prioritize that allow them to get involved anytime, anywhere. Without a digital means of translating these advantages, lawyers lose their advantage.
How do you see the future of lawyers when remote work becomes more common?
The legal industry is constantly adapting to offer customers more digital and engaging experiences. This should continue to be an upward trend for professionals as remote working becomes a more permanent work solution in the long run. Even those returning to the office will see different styles of internal and external communication than they did before the pandemic. The expectation to use digital experiences arose out of necessity and is going nowhere. In the wake of the pandemic, it is becoming increasingly important for lawyers to attract customers in a secure, dedicated channel for their own app to have ongoing conversations about urgent legal proceedings. As industries shift towards more digital practices, there will also be greater flexibility. This flexibility applies to both the client and the attorneys as they experience a higher quality of life when they have more options to check in and work from anywhere, anytime.
What new business opportunities can small businesses take advantage of in the future?
While all generations are ready to deal digitally with law firms, the three youngest generations – Gen Z, Millennials and Gen Xer – are particularly interested in dealing exclusively with legal organizations digitally even after the pandemic has ended. This means that a much broader demographic spectrum is available that can only be used at the touch of a finger. As customer Behavior changes, as does your digital business strategy. Small businesses that fail to adapt will continue to find that the gap between them and their peers is widening. It is important to keep abreast of current business trends in order to take advantage of the opportunities that arise.
What are the keys to being successful in creating a satisfying digital experience for lawyers and their clientele?
According to our 2020 Digital Resilience Report for Small Businesses, 65% of legal professionals surveyed said they were “extremely important” when asked about the importance of digital tools in improving customer loyalty during the pandemic. However, a digital experience needs to be a virtual reflection of company practice in order to properly manage the personal, intense, collaborative relationships and labor-intensive workflow, and to develop a coherent strategy.