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What Clients Want: How Law Firms Can Use Technology to Meet (or Exceed) Client Expectations

By Litera Microsystems on March 27, 2019
Litera Microsystems

To remain competitive, law firms—under increasing pressure to operate like traditional businesses—have to provide what clients want: better service, faster turnarounds, and a budget that’s competitive with alternative legal service providers.

Fortunately, by leveraging advanced technologies, your firm can not just meet but exceed client expectations. That gives you a competitive advantage, assures your clients that your firm will adapt to the changing times rather than becoming obsolete, and, in most states, meets a growing ethical requirement for technological competence.

Let’s explore how technology can help you meet or exceed client demands, starting with the highest pressure and most measurable dimension: costs.

Clients Expect a Lower Bill for Legal Services

It’s no secret that low-value, repetitive tasks can be automated. That’s why clients don’t expect to pay for those mindless—yet formerly billable—tasks like proofreading, first-round document review for ediscovery, or extensive contract review.

That’s not to say that those tasks aren’t valuable. We consider them a “necessary evil”: they have to be done, but that doesn’t mean that a lawyer, or any person, should spend significant time on them. It’s still important to identify errors in documents and comb through contracts for missing or extraneous clauses, but AI and other technologies can handle this work more efficiently than people can.

To get the most bang for your technology buck, identify the low-value tasks you’re currently engaged in. Take a hard look at whether any of those tasks are legacy obligations that have become unnecessary, like creating manual document backups when you have an automated, secure backup service. You’ll save even more—and charge your clients less—when you eliminate those redundant tasks entirely.

Lower client costs by saving your billable time for high-value work: parsing the meaning of unique contractual phrases, applying your legal expertise to a fact pattern, resolving conflicts between parties, or interpolating a client-specific fact pattern with the applicable laws or regulations.

Clients Expect Faster Service

Clients expect to pay less in large part because they expect that work will take less time. With technology, that’s a reasonable expectation, but it’s not a guaranteed outcome.

Often, we see lawyers who have adopted technology enthusiastically yet haphazardly. That results in having multiple point solutions, where lawyers must interrupt their workflows to use all of their technological tools. This digital distraction wastes time and kills focus, which means lawyers spend longer getting their own work done. By using integrated technology to optimize workflows, lawyers can stay in the “zone” and spend their time fixing errors or inconsistencies rather than wasting time dealing with issues.

Most of All, Clients Expect Outstanding Service

No one cares about cheaper, faster service unless that service is also excellent. Fortunately, when you leverage legal technology, you end up checking all three boxes. And technology-assisted legal services aren’t just better for clients in the immediate sense: they’re also better for lawyers, which ends up making them even better for clients.

When technology takes over the minutiae of legal work, lawyers have more time to think about issues and communicate with clients. That gives clients the advantage of more hands-on and tailored advice. In short, the more your technology does for you, the more time you have to add value for your clients.

But lawyers gain just as much from that extra time. The increased opportunity to engage in meaningful, client-facing work results in better employee satisfaction and more engagement. Having the regular opportunity to focus on high-value work increases employee retention, giving your firm a greater overall level of skill, experience, and institutional knowledge, which benefits both the firm and its clients. It’s genuinely a win-win situation.

The point, of course, isn’t to use technology for everything; it’s to find the best uses of people and the best uses of technology. To learn more, check out our webinar on meeting client expectations.

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