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January 25, 2019

Why is the legal sector finally embracing digital technology?

Written By Iinu Karna
5 minutes

The legal sector has existed in an unchanging landscape for quite some time. However, in recent years, it has become more and more evident that this is no longer the case.

Changes to consumer habits and competition within the industry itself have created ripples with far-reaching consequences. The status quo has shifted and what you need to do to stay relevant is a top priority. The legal market has continued to deliver strong growth both in numbers and value in recent years, yet the gap between successful and failing law firms is growing. This indicates a change in how some companies approach the business – and how some are ‘stuck in the mud’. Outside competition is a relatively new phenomenon, as the growing number of consultancy and accountancy firms are starting to shake up what used to be a relatively closed off and exclusive sector. With more competition, comes less bargaining power, so what services can be realistically offered at which prices to a client has changed.

Not only this, but consumer habits themselves have changed. People nowadays are acclimatized to constant access to information due to quick and easy internet access, always available at their smartphone-laden fingertips. Many law firms have used this to their advantage, breathing new life into client relationships with the use of technology. How legal advice is packaged and delivered is a key factor in service satisfaction to clients who cannot accurately judge the quality of advice due to a lack in specialty knowledge and expertise. So the more accessible and comprehensive delivery, the happier the client. In this way, having easy to navigate website design and investing in mobile app development, play an integral role in the success of the law firms doing well in the rapidly changing environment of the legal sector.

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So how does this work in practice? With pressure to increase value in the services offered to clients without inflating costs, it all comes down to customer experience. People are accustomed to a certain level of personalisation and 24/7 access to information, so the standardised form of client interaction that has been prevalent thus far in the industry is no longer enough. People are used to buying clothes online, tracking their mail deliveries, booking GP appointments on an app. Facilitating the type of client journey consumers have already grown to expect will make them not only more likely to initiate a relationship with a firm that provides this, but also maintain it.

Having a well-designed website is an obvious first step. Not only is this the first port of call for someone researching their options for legal services, it’s also a great way to provide more proactive interactions with your client base. If clients are able to set up accounts and log in to a private portal, you can provide them with services that mirror those available in other business sectors. From 24/7 access to important documents, faster response times from your staff thanks to customer contact forms, real-time webchat or chatbots, and the ability to track the progress of a case with daily or weekly updates as one would when tracking a parcel delivery or a banking transaction, providing an online platform for your clients creates the opportunity to offer far more efficient service than before.

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The availability of mobile apps is also on the rise. For immediate, on-the-go access that offers more bespoke services, app development is the way to go. Content can be tailored more directly to the needs of the client, and information is made more readily available if navigation to access it happens through just a few taps rather than following a long path of clicks on a browser. A well-designed app is the perfect complementary tool to a website as all information can be stored on the same database and viewed and edited through both. In this way, easy access to content and the ability to interact with it significantly enhances the user experience, which is a guaranteed way to improve client retention.

Digital solutions to client services is also beneficial to the business side of things. Websites and mobile apps can be installed with analytics software that track how clients interact with your content. This can be used to determine what elements of your content is most popular, what gets overlooked, and how user journeys through the site or app can be adjusted to improve efficiency – and introduce people to other services you provide.

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Paying close attention to the design and development of this digital content will help you really stand out from the crowd. In a market that is growing increasingly similar to that of retail, where the customer is king, focusing on user-centric UX/UI design is key. You can enhance your user experience by ensuring the UI design is based on a tailored ‘for the customer’ model which people are already used to interacting with. Intuitive design, efficient user journeys, and a consistent approach to UX design across all your platforms makes an app or website not just usable, but enjoyable. Furthermore, any platform which your customer spends any significant amount of time on is a branding opportunity. Consistent design in your user interface creates brand recognition. And as we all know, familiarity breeds loyalty, and in a time where customers have the power, giving them a reason to stay is the most forward-thinking choice any legal firm can make.

So, while the legal sector finds its footing in this new environment where more competition and new client expectations have left many floundering in the wake of change, there’s no reason to be one of them. Becoming a proactive business with bespoke solutions for your client base is easily attainable. For a market that has been stuck in old habits for too long, it’s the time to adapt and embrace the opportunities the digital age provides.

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