Legal Service Providers are failing to meet customer technology standards

A new UK study, that surveyed over 1,000 people and 500 law firms, has revealed the customers overwhelming desire for improved use of technology in law firms.

70% of respondents claimed that they would choose a ‘lawbot’ or customer facing, automated system to start handling their legal needs and do not need a human representative to start this process. 56% of these are also ready to pay more if it leads to a faster, more efficient resolution to their legal services request.

Technology has improved to such an extent that most transactions and information transfers can be completed online. 34% of consumers would appreciate law firms offering a service that would make their experience a lot more convenient; they believe that consultations through video conferencing services or instant messaging technology could help achieve this.

Despite this consumer desire, 66% have not been offered such services with law firms remaining too traditional in the way they deal with customers.

Improved technology and services is something the Government have attempted to adopt in recent years. The £1 billion investment to digital legal services highlighting the importance of providing a digital service in the 21st century. The implementation of a digital divorce application service has drastically reduced the process time whilst the automated financial disputes claim service for claims under £10,000 has also made the process more efficient.

According to the 500 law firms, losing touch with consumer needs and falling behind the times is a huge concern with 66% anxious that they could lose custom.

However, many remain reluctant because of the increased cyber threats that accompany the introduction of technology to a law firm.

39% of law firms are concerned that the hypothetical danger of data breaches and cyber attacks outweigh the benefits of digitally improving their client facing services. GDPR is also a huge concern for many firms, with 27% worried that the way they use technology could breach GDPR regulations.

Although many law firms are hesitant about new technology adoption, it is being requested by the consumer. According to the report, 19% would like access to an online, automated conveyancing service with minimal or no intervention from a human lawyer.

Martin Flick, CEO at Olive commented: “Today’s busy, always on and mobile first consumer wants to buy goods and services, and communicate with sellers whenever, wherever and however they choose. Increasingly this is through digital interaction.

“When it comes to their lawyer or solicitor, they want to engage in the same way, without the frustration of having to wait days for paper documents to arrive in the post or for an email to come through with the answer to a question that could be easily resolved with an Instant Message or automated response. Consumers want more control over their legal affairs with sometimes, little or no human intervention, and with the speed, efficiency and security that multiple channel web-based communications offers.”

“Many law firms are embracing digital transformation internally but there is clearly an opportunity and requirement from consumers for law firms to digitalise externally. Digitalisation has proven benefits including greater agility, profitability and productivity. Implementation of collaborative cloud technology can improve efficiency and security, for both the client and the firm, by becoming paperless, and the advanced and encrypted private cloud services available ensures that clients’ information is safely and securely stored.

“As we look to the future, on our journey to the fourth industrial revolution these services will be the norm, so it’s important for law firms to get on board now and digitally engage with their staff and their clients, and in the way that they want, need and expect.”

Whilst many firms remain reluctant to fully immerse their company in lawtech advances, those that do have reaped the rewards. 47% of those surveyed have said that technology has helped to improve their bottom line by between £20,000 and £200,000.

15% have said that the use of technology has helped to retain talented staff, with 34% claiming that they have improved their billable time. Overwhelmingly, the most important factor to the use of technology in a law firm had been the ability to optimise staff efficiency, with 73% of firms using more technology noticing that employees have been freed up to complete more work and increasing efficiency.

Although the threat of data breaches and cyber fraud are very real concerns, the threat of losing touch with consumer wants and the platforms they use to access legal services could result in a more severe damage for a legal services company.

Has your firm embraced technology? Has GDPR regulations and the threat of cyber fraud prevented your firm from adopting more lawtech solutions?