Deconstruction of legal matters – instruction
One of the themes for the magazine this year is the deconstruction of legal matters. We believe that one of the skills for future lawyer will be legal project management. As managers they should have the ability to deconstruct the various components of a legal matter and be able to continually make the process as efficient as it can be. In this issue we look at the first of six elements that are common to nearly all legal matters.
The first and arguably most important element is instruction. This is a new or existing client’s ability to provide work to a lawyer. For lawyers who deal primarily with larger businesses, the instructions are likely to come via email as governed by a service level agreement. It may be the case that a lawyer working on a large client matter may never see the client at all. For those lawyers working on the high street, it is likely to be the opposite purely by the nature of being located closer to the people they serve, as well as the personal services they provide.
While the legal sector is economically healthy there are still a significant number of businesses and consumers who do not seek legal advice from lawyers, despite it being advisable to do so. Some key reasons surround cost and lack of knowledge about how to instruct lawyers. Making the process of instruction easier with a clear indication of how much it is likely to cost will allow greater growth in the sector, especially for small business and personal legal services.
Technology is clearly a great way of improving these two issues. Instructions can now be taken from remotest of places, and at any time of the day. We now live in a world where access to information is at the touch of a button and it is important that law firms are able to keep up with consumer demand. For those law firms providing personal legal services, it may be worth considering chatbots to allow clients to ask questions (and more importantly get answers!) at any time of the day. It can also be used to book appointments without human interaction.
With fixed fees becoming more and more common, and the Law Society crying out for price transparency, now is the time to create automated questionnaires which can provide clients with an estimate of how much their legal work will cost, as well as showing the assumptions that is based on. Undoubtedly some work will be particularly complex and will require further discussion and that should be factored into the questionnaire, but for everything else it should be automated.
Following on from that, if the result of their questionnaire is that they are happy with the quote and they would like to instruct then why not get all the information required at that stage. That information can feed directly into all the relevant internal systems and even get the ball rolling on drafting the document from the outset.
All in all, I hope this gives a bit of a summary about what tools are available at this stage of a legal matter and how they could be used. Making it easy for clients to instruct a law firm, as well as providing quotes, with little human interaction is clearly of benefit to law firms. There are undoubtedly other ways and I hope they form the topic of more extensive articles during this year.