Legal Self-Help: Self-service to clients

Although it may sound paradoxical, the less work a law firm performs for a client, the better.

Legal self-help software allows clients to reduce costs while law firms can better utilize their lawyers. Self-service will enable clients to answer most of their questions before speaking to an attorney during billable hours.

It is a great way to help a law office move up the value chain. Clients who can identify and address their needs before seeking advice will have more productive and precise conversations with lawyers. In addition, the changes in work cultures post-pandemic have made remote technology a popular option for clients. It’s never been better for a firm to offer more comprehensive legal self-service.

Move preliminaries outside the office.

Clients are considering selling their small businesses. The client wants to know if he can lower his tax burden. He also needs to be aware of all the applicable local, state, and federal regulations. And he must learn how to write the acquisition document to protect him from, say, a buyer who pulls out at the last moment. This used to require multiple consultations with an attorney, who would first take the client through the basic steps of the sales process.

It is no longer necessary to do so. Clients can now access all the information they need at home by transferring documents like FAQs about self-owned businesses, state-by state tax and legal requirements, and sample/interactive M&A agreements into an easily-explorable online archive. The client can get the answers he or she needs at their own pace rather than having to go through an introductory process. They will only need to consult their lawyer if they have a complicated or specific question.

Idealistically, the division between self-service legal advice and in-person advice will favor the self-service option. Lucy Dillon of Lucy Dillon Consulting said in a recent Thomson Reuters Podcast that “clients would have all information at their fingertips.” The query can be 70% of the way to the answer. It’s the remaining 30% that is most valuable.

Legal self-help made intuitive.

Clients and lawyers learned quickly how to work remotely after the lockdowns. Many clients have yet to look back since the lockdowns. Many clients expect to complete their legal documents at home rather than driving to the law firm.

Client portal software allows law firms to provide their clients with remote access to legal services and information. HighQ is a platform for client engagement and collaboration that allows your law firm to offer a wide range of self-help legal options.

A successful client portal software is characterized by quality and intuitive questions. A client will log into their portal and answer a few broad introductory questions designed to quickly shuttle the client down to their area of interest, where they can watch videos, search databases, and receive any related material in downloadable/accessible formats.

The client portal software allows for the automation of many legal obligations. Imagine a client who has a query about the execution clause to be used in a particular transaction. The client can determine the right execution clause by answering questions and viewing sample clauses.

How to make legal self-help more valuable

Lawyers become more valuable when not required to help clients with the basics. Lawyers can shine with more interactions at a higher level and with specific clients. This will increase the prestige of their firm. Lawyers can spend more time with clients and offer unique, custom-made solutions.

Lawyers become an invaluable resources for clients once their routine interactions with the firm are conducted via self-service portals. A firm’s lawyers may be responsible for updating online information regularly so that clients receive the most up-to-date and accurate responses. If requested, some law firms will send their client’s daily summaries of court rulings, labor laws, and market regulations.

A client can also benefit from a more interactive collaboration. This allows them to get the opinion of several lawyers in a firm instead of being limited to their own. Lawyers with experience in contract drafting and risk management will answer a question about risk analysis during contract negotiations.

Keep the hub spinning.

The knowledge management team (KM) is crucial to establishing and maintaining legal self-service. Think of the KM team’s role as the hub, in constant contact with the technology and legal teams. Lawyers should always feed their information into systems for knowledge capture. The KM team will then work with the IT and development department to make sure that the knowledge is easily accessible to clients.

A law firm must be flexible when creating self-help solutions and reliable when implementing them. It is important to understand what your clients want and then go above and beyond. Even self-service can be a service. These are not free web resources but an extension of the law firm’s overall client experience.

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