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21st Century Legal Clients Expect Client-Centered Legal Representation

Nicole BlackTechnology is evolving at a rapid pace and shaping the expectations of your clients, while simultaneously leveling the playing field. You owe it to your clients to make efforts to understand what they expect from your firm and then learn how to take advantage of those changes in order to provide the best legal representation possible. 

For starters, today’s tech-savvy legal clients expect better communication and greater access to information – both about you, your law firm, and their cases.

This is something they’ve come to take for granted in all other aspects of their lives. 24/7 convenient access to information used to be an added benefit, but these days it’s simply an expectation.

That’s why one of the keys to a successful law practice is to ensure that the tools your firm uses also improve your clients’ experience. Astute lawyers understand that it’s important to consider how the technology you incorporate into your firm will affect client service.

For example, your potential clients are used to accessing their bank accounts either online or via their mobile devices. Many have applied for credit cards or car loans online. Some have even refinanced their mortgage loans using a web portal. 24/7 access to information and online communication and collaboration has become the norm in our culture.

Why should their interactions with their lawyer be any different? Clients expect better, more convenient access to their lawyers. If your law firm doesn’t provide them with web-based technologies with built-in client portals and online collaboration and communication features, then another law firm will. Client portals provide your clients with 24/7 access to information about their case while also allowing them to communicate and collaborate with you in a secure, encrypted online environment. According to the ABA’s 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report,22% of law firms already use client portals to collaborate with clients and 36% of large firm lawyers use client portals to communicate with clients. Is your law firm at the forefront of this trend?

Another way to increase client satisfaction is to provide your clients with flexibility in their payment methods by taking advantage of 21st century payment options. Doing so ensures that your clients are able to pay you quickly and easily. The benefits of accepting online payments are many. That’s why, these days, legal consumers expect to have multiple payment methods available to them; the more methods you offer, the more likely you are to get paid. That’s why lawyers are increasingly accepting online payments from clients. Doing so makes it simple for your clients to pay bills and ensures that you get paid quickly.

Of course for lawyers, it’s important to choose a reputable payment processor that is familiar with the specific needs of law firms. This ensures that any fees are taken out of the firm’s operating account, rather than the trust account, thus avoiding any compliance issues. So choosing a reputable legal payment processor, whether it’s a standalone product or one built into your practice management software, is key.

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Embracing technology not only allows lawyers to meet the demands of their clients, it allows them to thrive in an increasingly competitive legal marketplace. By wisely and selectively using technology, law firms can more efficiently provide legal services to their clients. One way to do this is by reducing redundancies and implementing workflows that streamline processes can reduce the costs associated with running a law firm. The advent of affordable and cutting edge technologies, including web-based practice management software, free or low cost online legal research, pay-as-you-go ediscovery services, and VOIP phone systems have leveled the playing field. Using these tools, law firms can now reap the benefits of providing affordable–yet agile, responsive, and comprehensive–legal representation.

Another way to compete in the legal marketplace is to consider your clients’ needs when creating marketing content for your firm. Create content that answers questions that your clients might have. When your law firm’s online content addresses issues that your clients are thinking about, it shows potential clients how your law firm can likewise solve their problems.

These are just a few ideas of ways to meet the needs of 21st century legal clients. What steps is your law firm taking to adapt in 2017? Is it thriving in the new world legal market or getting left behind? 

Nicole Black is the Legal technology Evangelist at MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is an attorney in Rochester, New York, and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
 

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