Discover what you and your firm can be doing to block out disruptions from within the legal industry as a whole.
Over the years, advancements in technology have rendered many industries prone to disruption and the legal industry is no exception. The firms that are able to navigate those disruptions the best are those that innovate and leverage new technology and business models for better product creation, analysis, improved productivity and more.
Due to the increasing competitiveness in the legal industry, many law firms are increasing their investment in technology and other areas to automate tasks, improve client relations, and ultimately improve their bottom line.
The best way to assess the level of disruption in the industry is through a 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market by Thomson Reuters. This report reveals that the traditional law firm model used by law firms for decades is now becoming more inefficient for the transforming legal industry. According to the report, this development can be attributed to several factors like the increasing value demand by clients.
In the same vein, a 2017 report on the legal sector by PWC claims that clients are getting frustrated with the rising cost and slow speed of legal service delivery, and many have resolved to hire the services of individual or freelance lawyers through ‘lawyer on-demand’ services or Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSP). Yet other factors are the fast growth of modern technologies which make legal work easier and less labor-intensive, and new business development strategies.
The report advises law firms to do away with some old traditionally believed assumptions and think up new models of operations and doing business. To be able to survive and thrive in this era of disruptions in the legal industry, your law firm must be ready to adopt dynamic ways to differentiate itself from your competitors. This can mainly be achieved by responding to and riding the wave of these new trends and proactively responding to client demands, rather than being negatively impacted by them.
Here are five proven ways your law firm can protect itself from disruptions in the legal industry and run a successful business.
1. Have a Brand Strategy
A good brand strategy is a very important element of running a 21st-century law practice. To adequately prepare and protect your law firm from industry disruptions, you need to know and understand what differentiates your firm from your competitors. Then you also need to help your potential clients know and understand this as well.
A brand strategy is not only important in helping you compete with direct competitors but also with the various online alternative legal service providers who offer legal services at discounted rates. With a proper brand strategy and message, potential clients are able to know the essential benefits they get from using your law firm versus another.
To achieve a proper brand message, you need to know your why and its value proposition. Your branding message must be able to capture the attention of your prospects and show your point of differentiation in the market. For an efficient marketing direction, your brand message should come with brand drivers and a market plan. These will be useful in identifying your target market and how they can be best reached and converted into clients.
2. Innovate and Use the Latest Technologies
Law firms handle a lot of information and documents every day. The best technologies and innovations are those that help enable efficient data processing, storage, acquisition, and preparation, as well as helping with research. Having access to a data management solution or information research tool can be a big game-changer for your law firm, and thus, protect you from disruption.
Two examples of technologies in the market that are having a profound impact on the industry are Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Portable Document Format (PDF). They are both software that can be used to access and modify information contained in paper-based documents and also aid in facilitating efficient data management.
3. Automate your Processes
Automation is yet another way in which your law firm can gain a competitive edge in the industry. An important and integral aspect of a firm’s processes or operations that requires automation is its client management activities, and one of the most important automation technology tools that can be utilized in this regard is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
AI technology and other automation tools can make many of the routine tasks and processes that lawyers have to undergo easier, faster and more efficient, such as customer interaction and management.
An example of a popular AI-enabled technology is a chatbot. According to Technopedia A chatbot is a “program that simulates interactive human conversation by using key pre-calculated user phrases and auditory or text-based signals”.
There are several bots specific to the legal industry that offer different specialized functions like creating simple documents, marketing legal products and supporting customers. By automating many functions of your practice you will find your firm staying several steps ahead of the competition while being in sync with the technological developments in the industry.
4. Flexible Working System
An area that is being disrupted in the legal industry is legal service delivery. Clients want more value and immediateness from their legal providers. To meet up with these requirements new legal service start-ups are coming up with business models that will enable lawyers in various industries from criminal lawyers to real estate lawyers to work more flexibly.
An example of this business model is Lawyers on Demand that was founded in 2007. To be able to compete with these new business models, it is essential that you give your clients more power and autonomy to decide on what works best for both parties.
5. Up your Marketing & Sales Functions
At the end of the day, the best technology or business model will all be for naught unless your potential clients find your firm. This is why a lot of effort has to be put into getting your marketing, advertising and sales functions right.
Out of these three business functions, marketing (specifically digital marketing) plays a major role in the overall strategy of bringing in clients for the firm. Research has shown that the internet is the number one resource that people turn to in their search for a lawyer, accounting for as much as 38% of all searches. It, therefore, goes without saying that any law firm that wants to be successful needs to ensure that its overall digital marketing strategy covers a broad spectrum of various digital channels like local SEO, Pay Per Click, content marketing, social media and more.
After an effective marketing strategy has been put in place, you must follow up with other complementary activities like building a good relationship with existing clients that can lead to direct referrals, attending networking events where potential clients might be and more.
Kanayo Okwuraiwe is a startup founder and digital marketing professional. He is also the founder of Telligent Marketing LLC, a digital marketing agency that provides lawyer SEO services to help law firms grow their law practices. Connect with him on Linkedin.