Law Firm Technology

Ep 44 – Law Firm Apps: Does Your Law Firm Need an App?

On the show today we talk law firm apps,  legal tech and apps past and present with articles from the AmericanBar & Law.com, then we talk to an attorney who’s been there and done that, the creator of YourFirm app Chris Smith to find out what the realities of creating a law firm app are and where it’s all going.

your firm app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apps for Law Firms – Good or Gimmick?

Does every business need an app? It’s a tough question. It takes time and money to develop them, although the idea is that the final product will either save you time or make you money – or both, either through the direct experience the users have with the app or by the information you collect from it.

Is this something law firms should have? Does the typical one-and-done client really need a dedicated app on their phone – a phone they could just as easily use to contact the office and speak with someone directly? Or is THAT an inconvenience? Maybe legal consumers are getting so used to using apps for everything else that it’s weird and old-fashioned for them to have to call your office?

These are all good questions, and that’s what we’re doing on this episode of the podcast – asking questions and looking for answers about law firm apps.

Law Firm Apps Are The “Uncool kids” in the App Store

Today’s Hot Take comes from an article on Law.com called “Legal Tech Is the Least Cool Kid in the App Store, Study Finds” and it’s worth a read. This part in particular illustrates the potential for expansion by law firms as well as the changing nature of the legal consumer:

“The report identified potential room for growth around legal services apps. Sixty-six percent of mobile device owners said that they would be at least somewhat interested in an app that provides essential legal services. Millennials and people with children in the household expressed slightly more interest in these services, with 73 percent and 76 percent of those communities respectively indicating they’d like to see a comprehensive legal services app.”

While the majority of legal consumers still prefer to discuss details for their cases in person (according to the latest Clio.com survey) the idea of having an app for doc review of messaging is no longer a novelty or “extra” – it’s become a useful way for law firms and clients to connect.

https://www.law.com/legaltechnews/2018/05/22/legal-tech-is-the-least-cool-kid-in-the-app-store-study-finds/

Creating Custom Apps For Law Firms

Our guest on the show is Chis Smith. Chris is a lawyer who focuses on representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation relating to divorce, child custody, and complex property division, and business disputes. At his current firm of Smith Simmons, he specializes in high-stakes custody, alimony, and property division cases as well as mediation services.

But outside the law firm, Chris is striding forward into the future of legal client services with his YourFirm app. By integrating with practice management software, like Clio, Chris’s app can handle tasks such as sending push notifications to clients when a calendar event is scheduled, review and upload PDFs, send secure direct messaging between attorneys and clients and even accept payments – all directly from the app.

With an evolving legal marketplace serving distinct and disparate demographics, from boomers to millennials, we talk to Chris about how he balances entrepreneurship and a career in the law, and where he sees the future of client communications and the legal marketplace going.

Company link: https://yourfirmapp.com/

How Can Law Firm Apps Be Useful and Not Gimmicks?

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Chris about how integration and on boarding are critical to successful usage, and the specific pain points you can address and minimize by using a custom app for your law firm:

Interviewer: So, I had a client who was a law firm seeking marketing advice, and one of the things that they were really interested in was getting an app because of communication. They were saying, “It’s so hard for our lawyers to get in contact with the clients.” Because some people say, “Lawyers are so bad at communicating.” I was part of a lot of marketing meetings w

here the lawyers were like, “I’m reaching out to these people. I’m calling them. I’m emailing them,” a lot of paralegal staff was. Everyone’s reaching out, but the clients aren’t picking up the phone. Sometimes, they don’t want to be interfaced, and it’s a weird kind of frustration. I liked that you said it could be a 30-minute conversation on, “Should I give you my cell phone or should we try and…” How do you handle the communication gap?

client using law firm appBut my blow back with this idea at the time was, “Look, what’s the point of having an app just to communicate, whereas you can just pick up the phone and call someone.” I’m kind of interested to see why that communication is so tough. And there’s a lot of savvy people that are like, “I hate going to a web browser on my phone.”

But a lot of law firm clients maybe aren’t reaching that level of savviness, of knowing that they’re frustrated about a browser on their phone when they just want to play Candy Crush. So, there’s like different layers of, like, lawyers want really shiny stuff, but maybe their clients aren’t necessarily ready to adopt the shiny stuff. So, not that it takes a chance to convince a lawyer that they need it, but have you seen any kind of adoption problems with clients logging on to the Your Firm app? Just kind of speaking towards the frustration because I know that it’s there, and it’s not your problem. You created an app that’s beautiful. It solves all these problems. But the question is, are people really using and availing themselves to the full productive value of the app? Have you seen any like shortcomings in that regards?

Chris: That it’s completely contingent upon the process that the attorney implements in on-boarding the client to the app. If the app is part of your intake and your onboarding process while the clients are in your office for the first time, or if you’re a virtual practice and everything is online. If you’re incorporating it into your process, your use by your clients is going to increase as opposed to, you meet with the client, they leave your office, and then you send them a follow-up email maybe that says, “Hey, by the way, we have an app. Download it and try to communicate with us that way.” Because if they leave your office and they see that there’s a mobile feature here that they can engage with you on and you’re enthusiastic about it, they’re going to view it as a part of your practice. And it’s a part of the experience that they’re going to get with your office as opposed to just kind of a second thought that you are trying to… You know, you’ve got an app.

Maybe it feels cool and, “Hey, my firm has an app and…” But if you really do educate the client as to this, that is what’s going to help. And here’s a very good example: One of the things that has happened and one of the things we created and it really was kind of a result of just the technology that we didn’t really anticipate is that because of the calendar feature of our app, if you are a client who’s downloaded the app, just like any app that a lot of us download, it’s going to initially ask you, “Do you want to sync the calendar from this app with your native calendar?” So, for the first time, an attorney now can create a calendar event in CLIO, and that event’s actually going to push to that client’s native calendar on their mobile device. They don’t even have to log into the app to view that calendar entry. It’s right there.

So, if you’re a client and you are the type that’s kinda scatterbrained, like, I mean, and a lot of us are. If you’ve got so many things going on in your life and you have a hearing coming up that you can’t recall exactly when it is, but you know it’s coming, there is peace of mind in knowing that, “Hey, I know I sync my phone with my calendar and they can push it to it. It’s got to be on the calendar somewhere. I don’t have to pick up the phone and call the office to find out when that was.” And so, if you can talk to the client about the value of that process right off the bat as the attorney, their usage is going to go up. And it’s going to end up saving you time in terms of the time that you have to respond to questions about this and that.

Another thing that we have built into the app that is built in to try to save time… I’m a family law attorney. Every day it seems like that we get a call from a client who says, “Hey, I know I owe you a verification page signed and back to you. I don’t have a scanner handy. I don’t have a fax machine close. Is there an easy way for me to get this back to you?” Before the app, they might take a photo with their phone and just send that to us via email and then we would have to process it that way. With our app, they now have the ability to take a photo using our scanner feature and that uploads as a PDF directly to their document folder in CLIO. And so, there’s easier process to the mobility of the client and the way that they engage with our office if we just implement this tool.

And it’s like anything. Our app is a tool. If you don’t use your billing software, if you don’t enter your time, nothing’s going to get billed. And so, if you don’t use this software like it’s intended to be used, you’re not going to get any kind of engagement. And so, that’s kind of what we’re working on right now with most of our customers, is just implementation and trying to help them. And because we are so new, our customer numbers at this point are where we can still work with them on a one-on-one basis. We’re reaching a point where that’s difficult to do, but we do, with these early adopters, have the ability to really give them some hands-on treatment and help them to implement these tools in their practice to make it successful.

And that’s what we really want. As a practicing attorney, I don’t want to put a product out that’s not going to be providing value to attorneys across the country in their practice. I want this to really help people and to make life easier so that, you know, if you’re at dinner with your wife at 7:00, instead of getting that text from a client who’s wanting to know what they need to wear to court tomorrow, they just send you a message on the app, and then you get to decide how you’re going to engage with them at that when and where and these little things like that that I think are going to make life a little bit easier for attorneys.

Get More Information About Law Firm Apps

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights about custom apps for lawyers. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 43 – Alternative Legal Services & Tomorrow’s Commercial Contracts

On today’s show, we talk about how changes in procurement and alternative legal services are altering the definition of what it means to be a corporate lawyer, and then we chat with the founders of ConRad and learn about commercial contract management, how it applies to the legal industry in general and the future of the legal landscape.

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The Changing State of Commercial Contracts and In House Lawyers

The new legal services supply chain will upend everything, and lawyers will need to adapt. The situation on the ground is rapidly changing, meaning no longer is a single approach or “in house” methodology effective. According to those on the precipice of procurement and commercial contract innovation, corporate attorneys need to learn what’s it’s like to think like entrepreneurs, like business leaders. However, according to this article from the Harvard Business Review, no one is taking innovation seriously IN ANY COMPANY.

The Legal Profession Is Now the Business of Law In the Eyes of Those That Matter Most—Buyers.

Today’s Hot Take is this article in Law.com by the brilliant Mark Cohen:

https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2018/04/16/procurement-and-the-new-legal-buysell-dynamic/  

“This is not simply a change in the corporate legal buy/sell dynamic; it is compelling evidence that law is not solely about lawyers anymore. Procurement speaks to a growing sophistication among legal buyers as well as new engagement criteria. This portends further changes in law—by whom, when, how, from what model, and at what price legal services are bought and sold.”

Lawyers are notorious for imputing their own value to matter management instead of focusing on client objectives. The five top goals among the legal procurement professionals surveyed are:
(1) capture/analysis of spend data;
(2) further reduction of legal spend;
(3) better management of legal work;
(4) implementation of strategies and processes for portfolio management;
(5) improving relationships with the law department.

As we have learned from previous expert guests on the subject of procurement, line items and per servicelawyer with contract charges are starting to be a big deal, and the relationship between procurement (or purchasing) and legal is beginning to look a little different than it used to – the catch-all legal bucket is getting overturned in favor of individual services. It’s only a matter of time before these commercial concepts trickle their way down to the consumer, and in many ways services like Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom already have begun to lead the charge. So what does this mean? Is the way we approach contract preparation going to change from the Word doc template to AI-generated-multi-volume-tomes?

Commercial Contract Tech Innovations With ConRad

The business love-child of two legal tech companies, Conduit Law and Radiant Law, ConRad is a new law company that helps businesses accelerate their commercial contracts – ConRad combines fixed pricing, legal judgement, design, data, and development to help large companies optimize their contracting process and successfully implement legal tech into existing infrastructures. Calling in from London and Toronto, we are lucky to have the founders of ConRad on the show today, Alex Hamilton and  Peter Carayiannis.

Procurement and Legal Teams – It’s Complicated

In this segment of the podcast interview, Jake and Paul talk about how in house attorneys used to be standing at the bottom of the hill that all things corporate legal ended up rolling down and how the nature and number of agreements and documents has changed:

[20:54]Interviewer: So I’m kind of curious, it seems like a lot of these in-house teams are sort of  “throw it over the fence to legal.”  Like – these folks have to just handle everything, whether it’s, you know, review a press release or make sure that that their software is compliant and stuff like that. You’re really kind of providing a way here to streamline something that really not everybody can be an expert in. And if you’re trying to cover everything, this may be something where it’s like, “Look, we’re your experts. We can we can we can handle this stuff while you are answering the phone and putting out the fire.” Is that kind of a kind of an angle we’re getting at here?

[21:34]Peter: Yeah, exactly. Right. And if you got a large company, there are hundreds if not thousands of contracts they’re doing a year on their standard terms, but they are being negotiated. And there are a big effort to do but there are things where you can talk about it –  a lot of technology and process and so on – to do them really, really well and let you know the sales team sell.

[22:01]Interviewer: Right. And I think that’s an important thing too is that this isn’t just … you know, we see it… in our company, we have sales contracts, service agreement stuff like that,  and every little thing can really bog down the process for everyone else down the road. So this isn’t like, “Let’s just plug some stuff in because it’s easy.” We’re kind of talking about building a better relationship between procurement and legal teams. Could you maybe talk about that a little bit?

[22:31]Peter: It’s a great question. And the way we look at it I think it’s probably best to say that with every bit of a paradigm shift here from the conventional lawyering and, you know, I got to put the caveat out there. We’re not knocking the conventional approach to delivering legal services and no getting out a white piece of paper and drafting a contract. That has its place and it’s always going to happen. It’s still important.

The type of contracts that we’re talking about, the type of clients were talking about, and the type of work we’re talking about is frankly at higher volume. Now, when I say higher volume it doesn’t have to be millions of contracts, but it certainly is at a higher volume. And what we’re trying to do is to empower those legal departments to be able to generate high volumes of repeatable and reliable, verifiable and enforceable contracts.

[23:20]But really, what we’re about is we’re frankly in the business of creating relationships. That’s how we look at our work for our clients. So our clients are out in the market and they’re negotiating terms and ultimately, they want to do a deal. They come to us to encapsulate that deal and that is the creation of a relationship between our client and their client, our client and the counterparty. And when you change that your paradigm so that you understand it to be about creating relationships, and not about creating a perfect contract, you know, the perfect contract has got to be the output that goes with it.

[23:58]But what you’re really trying to get at is a good relationship with your client and that starts with trust, and so that begins our process. So, you know, you talked earlier about these “word forests,” clauses, stipulate threats, I mean, It’s a valid point. Alex and I come at this and say, “Why don’t we start step 1 with let’s be reasonable,” as opposed to throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the counter party. What are the real commercial terms that are needed? What are the terms in this contract that are extraneous that don’t actually help the purpose of creating a trust relationship between these parties that will ultimately lead to positive commercial results. So we start there, try to create higher levels of efficiency, make it so that the sales team has to put less effort into concluding the deal because the paper is there. That also means having to step back with the client and say,”Well, what are the true business objectives?”

And so,  if you’re in this world where you’re thinking that you’re in the job of creating relationships, understanding the true business objectives of your client, understanding what are the key terms and what are the terms that are frankly not that important. That helps accelerate the commercial relationship and actually builds I think a better foundation. And I certainly have that experience.

[24:20]I’ve been, you know, prior to this life with Conduit and Conrad, I was an in-house lawyer so I experienced this. The sales team would be really excited and want to put a contract in place with the counterparty. and it was always more productive and always more effective if we started from a position of trust and then build something together as opposed to starting from a position of, “I just want to throw this big contract with all these heavy terms over to the other side.”

Get More Information About Legal Innovation

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights about contracts and procurement. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 40 – Legal Writing Meets Legal Tech

Being able to express judgement and wisdom through legal writing is a foundational aspect to the practice of law. We discuss the basics of legal writing and how tech can help lawyers write more gooder.

 

 

 

 

 

 


NEWS – https://www.americanbar.org/publications/youraba/2015/december-2015/experts-share-tips-to-help-improve-your-legal-writing.html

GUEST – https://legal.intelligentediting.com/

Ep 32 – Lola Vs Skadden and the Automation of the Legal Profession

We talk about legal innovation and automation with an article from WeForum.org & we discuss the future of law and the Lola vs Skadden case with Michael Simon and Alvin Lindsay.

Read More

Ep28 – Legal Chatbots

In this episode we learn about chatbots and the legal industry as we review an article from Fordham Law, and interview lawyer, speaker, and legal tech innovator Patrick Palace about his own chatbot, “PatBot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWS – https://news.law.fordham.edu/jcfl/2018/05/23/legal-chatbots-advancing-technology-and-lawyers-of-the-future/

GUEST – https://www.palacelaw.com

Ep20 – Lawyers and the Gig Economy

On the show today we talk about freelance lawyers, the gig economy, and find out why so many lawyers leave the profession from an article on The Balance.com – We also interview LawyerExchange.com founder and CEO Bob Meltzer about his legal work-sharing platform and how law firms can operate in the future.


NEWS – https://www.thebalance.com/why-do-so-many-lawyers-leave-the-profession-2164592

GUEST – https://www.lawyerexchange.com/

Ep17 – Legal Tech in a Flat World

We interview legal professor, lawyer, author, and legal tech scholar Gillian Hadfield about globalization, tech innovation, and what lawyers can learn from her new book, “Rules for a Flat World.”

NEWS – The Data-Driven Lawyer and the Future of Legal Technology

GUEST – https://www.amazon.com/Rules-Flat-World-Invented-Reinvent-ebook/dp/B01LYZXIVU

Ep15 – Swipe 2 Hire – Finding Legal Work

In this episode we speak with Carly Steinbaum and learn about her job hunting app for lawyers, Denovo, and discuss the ways law grads and seasoned attorneys are looking for work in the age of Tinder.


NEWS – Top 10 Ways To Get Your First Job After Law School

GUEST – https://www.denovoapp.com/

Ep13 – The Renaissance Lawyer

In this episode we talk about the latest legal tech innovations, interview in-house corporate lawyer, programmer and blogger Colin Levy, and unpack the multi-disciplinarian future of practicing law – what skills will you need to become indispensable in the law firm of tomorrow – how can you become “The Renaissance Lawyer?”

NEWS – http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2017/09/no-longer-avoid-tech-innovation/

GUEST – https://colinslevy.com/

Ep11 – Big Data Meets Little Law Firms

In this episode we dig deep into the steaming mountain of data surrounding legal tech, AI, and Big Data to learn how it will impact the future of practicing law, and how lawyers can use data to create better trial strategies, workplaces, and careers!

NEWS – https://www.law.com/legaltechnews/sites/legaltechnews/2018/01/05/big-data-proving-a-big-challenge-for-legal-business-analytics/

GUEST – http://www.law.du.edu/deji/meet-dejis-directors