Legal IT 5.0: eLawyering for Competitive Advantage – How to Brand Your Law Firm in a Networked World
Blogging live from Montreal at the LegalIT 5.0 Conference, the Conference opened with a plenary session on the subject topic, by Richard S. Granat, Co-Chair, eLawyering Task Force, American Bar Association, launched in 2001. Richard founded one of the first virtual law firms in North America and is well chosen to speak on topic.
Richard opened the Conference by stating vast trends in the legal world:
- When legal services are concerned, the delivery platform is shifting. What do clients want? Expectations are evolving… One of them is fixed pricing. That pressure alone is putting pressure on law firms to rethink how they package legal services
- Clients want transparency. They want to know the details of how they will be billed, they want detailed, itemized information on invoices
- Clients want convenience
- Clients want better technology, to enable lower prices
- Clients want legal services à la carte (unbundled legal services)
All these trends are accelerated by the new web generation, a generation that does everything online. That latent market is evaluated at $45 billion in the U.S. alone. Richard discussed the Legal Zoom example, a paralegal company providing a turnkey will preparation (without legal advice) service. At 1,000,000 wills, their market share has grown to +$60M in revenue, and they are starting to eat in the traditional market of small law firms.
Only 52% of Solos have a web site in the U.S. this figure is considered by low by Mr Granat. Low, because about half of consumers expect their law firms to provide online access, information and services, going beyond the “passive brochure”, allowing an interactive client portal.
Virtual lawyering is much more than having a static web site and communicating by email. It is using Internet technologies to their fullest potential, including web advisors, smart calculators and other client tools. Richard presented several examples of such technologies, including the SmarterWill Web Site example.
In terms of ethical issues, Richard says they are the same for real world lawyering and eLawyering. A law firm has to map their unique expertise into an effective online presence and brand: differentiation of services, remarkable expertise unbundled and a conclusive client experience. Richard predicts that in the next 5 years, every law firm will have some kind of client portal.
To learn more about eLawyering:
- eLawyering Task Force: http://www.elawyering.com
- Virtual Lawyering Learning Center: http://www.directlaw.com/learningcenter.asp
Richard concluded by challenging the audience to learn about these technologies, use them and to occupy our knowledge space in the Internet!