When lawyers, having been subjected to years of relentless approaches by case management salesmen, finally submit and sign on the dotted line, they typically find that the breathless wait for the benefits to deliver, tends to be just that – a breathless wait.
Using technology to deliver joyful client service in the legal industry is rarely successful as initial optimism gives way to cynical disappointment. However, rather than consigning it to the “too-difficult” pile, the deployment of technology must be better understood and applied to processes and requirements that genuinely meet the goal of service delivery.
That goal is to give the impression to a client that they are the only person the company is dealing with – the one-to-one approach. When a client interacts with a company, everyone should have access to details about them, their case and their child’s GCSE results.
Quite a challenge.
What is technology NOT good at?
There are aspects of technology such as artificial intelligence which are revolutionising the corporate legal world with efficiencies in contract management and document analysis. However, such advances does not mean that technology is automatically qualified to address the poor levels of service typically found in the sector.
Amazon’s Alexa can give details of the local weather because it is working with a very limited set of data. However, Amazon’s engineers will struggle to develop a technology that calms a client who has just been told that the other side’s lawyers are away on holiday. With no-one to cover their files. When it comes to interpreting a poorly photocopied 1950’s lease, technology struggles to understand the nuances involved. Or the handwritten changes.
Whilst this will bring comfort to those who think “computers can never replace lawyers” technology is not best used to solve these types of issues. Yet.
What should technology be used for?
Technology is REALLY good at giving lawyers access to information vital to the people involved in a case. Unfortunately, software suppliers exhibit such limited industry knowledge that their software typically has an embarrassingly “WhatsApp” air about it. Let’s face it, whoever thinks giving clients immediate and unfettered access to lawyers is a good idea, have a lot to learn.
For example, conveyancing software typically underestimates the variables and complexities faced by a lawyer who juggling dozens, if not hundreds, of cases. When the telephone rings, they must have instant access to all aspects of the case as if it was the only one they were working on.
However, this is using technology in the wrong way; predictive analytics that understands what the client needs to be told, and most importantly, when, should push this information to the client to stop them ringing in the first place.
Technology can be used to solve the “where” and the “what” of conveyancing. It should provide an instant and understandable summary of a case’s progress and using this information, analyse the entire caseload to advise the lawyer what they should do next. Such case analytics are not available to most lawyers as companies rarely invest in thorough data collection procedures, automatic document scanning and interpretation and intelligent checklist management to ensure that appropriate decisions can be made.
Technology can be a highly effective tool for lawyers to achieve the goal of one-to-one service delivery. By capturing data electronically at all stages of the process and making it available for reuse will reduce the effort involved in future cases. Only once this basic standard has been achieved, can intelligent case analytics and predictive prioritisation can be effectively deployed.