The legal industry is undergoing a period of significant change. As in other traditionally-minded sectors, the pressure to modernise and digitise is pitted against the precedent of an established business model. Over the coming years, the success of individual law firms depends on their ability to develop better client engagements, improve service offerings, and align themselves better with client needs to meet and exceed expectations. For firms to effectively market their services and become more client-centric, they need digital.
The explosive growth of lawtech and other digital legal platforms are an early indicator of the rapid changes that are soon to come. ‘Lawtech’ is an umbrella term that encompasses law firms delivering their services through technology, and the vendors developing and providing solutions to those firms. These services can include drafting documents, undertaking research, and even providing legal guidance. As these services grow, they will begin to have a significant impact on the industry. And they are growing: Forbes noted £290 million was invested into Lawtech ventures last year – three times more than in 2018. If traditional law firms are to compete with these new challenges to the status quo, they need to switch to a digital-first mindset across their teams.
But there is a hurdle – the powerful sense of traditionalism within the industry. The digital mindset may be perceived as a threat, particularly among senior stakeholders who have built the firm’s success in the established business model. Nonetheless, client expectations will continue to evolve, regardless of any internal resistance. Many clients are already working in a digital-first environment and using data as a central pillar of their analysis and decision-making process. Soon they will expect their legal counsel to follow suit, or look elsewhere.
The client’s world is growing more complex by the day. This complexity is compounded by global supply chains and the growing influx of big data. As these demands increase, so do the demands on the legal industry. Legal firms must leverage ever-deeper insight across complex global client environments at speed and scale. They must have the same intuitive understanding of their client’s business as the client themselves. A digital-first approach builds client trust and loyalty – firms become more integrated with their clients by providing unparalleled insight into clients’ increasingly complex needs.
Far from undermining from the personal client relationship, comprehensive client data enables law firms to offer a more bespoke, personalised service. Building one consolidated record of client data breaks down silos within the company by equipping every employee with a single, unified view of the client.
A deeper understanding of the client accelerates sales and marketing efforts – teams can begin more effective sales conversations with existing and potential clients because they have a 360-degree view of the client and their needs. As the process continues, digital enables teams to track engagement and deliver a more personalised experience to their clients. Through secure, unified access to data, firms can engage clients as a ‘market of one’.
The rise of automation and AI allows law firms to take advantage of the efficiencies new technology offers, while still nurturing existing talent. Processing data, previously a role for paralegals and junior teams, can be handled more efficiently by AI. This may seem like an uncomfortable prospect for the legal industry: a possible reduction in billable hours. However, evolving the structure and practice around this digital and data-enabled world means a reallocation of company time, not a reduction. It is an opportunity for firms to teams to prioritise their team’s skills more effectively – finding new business or developing their expertise. Time-consuming backend processes can be simplified – replaced by focused, productive work that harnesses the full potential of a team’s expertise. Law firms can drive productivity, growth and agility at the same time as intensifying intellectual capital.
Salesforce helps law firms make the shift to a digital-first, client-centric approach. Our Client 360 platform aggregates your client data to help you provide an integrated, accurate record of every client and their needs. You can provide a more human service with digital, data-driven capabilities that monitor client engagement and accelerate your marketing and business development efforts.
This new business model is built around ‘Law-as-a-Service’. A more dynamic, client-focused approach to the legal industry, one with reducing times for insights, processes and transactions – but the same high-calibre expertise.