This guest article written by Suzanne Reece focuses on how Amazon’s technology set up could be an asset for law firms. Encouraging law firms how to adapt and to start thinking of “Uber for lawyers!”
What is Amazon?
When I think of Amazon, I think of all things physical to digital. The A-Z of everything incorporating products, eBooks, films and music. Amazon is however so much more, it is described as a multinational technology company that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.
What does Amazon do well?
My user experience of the platform is pretty much like other people, you start with one order and then a couple more items. You have a good experience so you sign up to the subscription service and order more. Soon Amazon is the first place you go to find products, download or stream. Fifteen years later you find that your life would be a lot more complicated without Amazon.
Why am I addicted to Amazon’s services?
- The platform is easy to navigate.
- The payment process is quick and easy.
- Goods and services are delivered quicklythe next day or within minutes if downloading digital content.
- They deliver a consistent product/service. What I get is what I ordered.
- They do not like complaints. I struggle to think of a bad purchase experience over the last 15 years! When you complain the service goes into overdrive – they don’t quibble, they send out another product express or refund your money.
What does all of this have to do with law firms post Covi-19?
In a world with shrinking demand, increased unemployment and economies burdened by debt and loans taken out to manage the short-term shock of Lockdown. Individuals and companies alike are going to be looking for something new in their legal services. A service that fits their needs, in terms of delivery, flexibility and price.
In this environment law firms like other businesses are reviewing their expenditure, staffing and potential income streams aka clients. Legal advisers if they want to survive a global depression will be looking at ways in which they can help their clients; by delivering their legal services in a format and at a price that is affordable for their clients.
We have seen in Lockdown that lawyers can adapt and work from home remotely. Courts have opened and judges and tribunals manage cases remotely. Clients have been happy to engage with their lawyers using video conferencing. Social distancing has not stopped people connecting and forming new business partnerships and working relationships.
What does the new legal world look like?
- A national or multinational global online platform that can deliver legal services quickly, efficiently and at an affordable price?
- A fee structure – more like an annual subscription to legal services on demand [Legal Prime] or flexible payment structures [Easy pay, flexi pay, legal bundles of services and instalments].
- Clients who ask for specific legal task and view multiple bids from law firms on a single online platform and then select the bid that best suits their requirements and budget. They get a fixed service, price and time schedule.
- Law firms that only operate remotely. Just like the new online challenger banks that have sprung up. Remote working takes away the need for shinny and expensive head offices and allows for lower costs to be passed on to clients.
- Law firms that engage with their clients in a more informal way [virtual or real]. Many clients still feel uncomfortable or are inconvenienced by visiting their solicitors’ offices or meeting counsel in person in conference. How about meeting at a time and method that suits your client? Gone are the 9am to 5.00pm hours Monday to Friday. If you need to chat to a lawyer at 11.00pm on Sunday the online platform will find you a specialist that can help from their pool of freelance lawyers. Think Uber for lawyers!
- A money back guarantee. Imagine a law firm that says if we do not deliver what we said we would – we will refund your fees! Would you sign up to that type of service, what do you have to lose?
In short, why can’t the legal profession be more like the major tech companies who spend their time working out what their client wants and devising quicker and more affordable ways to get it to them?
The excuse that legal services are not physical products does not work when so many digital and non-physical services are supplied online. Legal services clearly involve consideration of complex issues, legal assessments and judgment. Many lawyers and judges prefer the old way of meeting. Whether it is a client, witness or defendant, they want to meet them in person and look them in the eye and read their body language.
I do not for one moment think it will be easy but I am sure that App developers are looking for ways to enhance our online experience with better visual images that include body language.
The use of technology that can “read and digest” laws, legal precedents and caselaw; and algorithms that can predict legal outcomes could deliver legal advice more rapidly and informally. Lawyers working with tech, digital and marketing experts would be instrumental in devising a radically new service structure
My challenge to lawyers is to think BIG. We should use this period of change to re-write the rules on how we attract, engage and service our clients before Jeff Bezos decides that Amazon for legal services is an interesting project!