Too long to read? Find the key takeaways at the end of the article
Lawyers are busy, that’s an understatement. Long working days, a lot of cases to crack, plenty of agreements to draft. All this work to service existing customers, leaving them little time to attract new customers. Few lawyers think of a lead generation strategy, let alone they implemented one. This article hands a strategy for lawyers to attract more clients and service them better without spending time or tons of money on marketing. Legal chatbots to the rescue.
The six missing hours
It’s all about the billable hours. Law firms encourage their employees to do as many ‘billables’ as possible, which makes sense as this is the business model for most law firms. Unfortunately, research shows that it is very difficult to achieve a high number of billable hours. According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report of Clio, a provider of a practice management solution for lawyers, lawyers spend 2.3 hours per day on billable work, yet they only bill 1.9 hours. The other six hours are spent working on administrative tasks and surprisingly enough also 33% on business development, i.e. attracting new clients. Makes sense right, without new clients no business. Well, it becomes more and more important for lawyers to attract new clients.
Are alternative service providers a threat?
‘Het Financieele Dagblad’ in the Netherlands states that mid-sized law firms have difficulties retaining clients which leads to a revenue decrease of 10% and more. Those traditional law firms are getting competition from the big four, who can offer consultancy, accountancy and legal services in one affordable package. Also niche and boutique law firms who focus op specific legal branches are a threat. They often offer a fresh and accessible approach and they are good in selling themselves. Finally, legal service providers can offer repetitive basic legal services at lower cost because they use technology. It’s time for the classical law firm to reposition itself and to focus more on a particular segment of customers.
How to do marketing without spending time on marketing?
Nowadays, clients are more and more demanding, expecting an immediate response. If they can’t immediately book a meeting, they continue their search on Google for another lawyer where they can get the appointment they want. Obviously, it is very difficult for law firms to organize themselves in such a way that they can offer an immediate response at all times.
The bottom line is that lawyers should spend more time on marketing and business development, yet they already spend 33% of their day on doing this. And that 33% should be recovered to focus on billable hours, sounds like a dilemma right? Well, it isn’t. There is an easy solution.
Chatbots to the rescue
What is a chatbot? A chatbot, not to be confused with an annoying flashing chatbox, is a software solution that automates one side of the chat conversation. For law firms, a chatbot might be useful to automate client intake as well as to answer basic customer questions, immediately, 24/7. Convenient, right? It is a small chat bubble on your website, that can be opened by your customer whenever he wants.
You might ask yourself: “why do I need a chatbot, all of my customers come to me via a referral”. Well, that might be right, but there a study proofs that 74% of the legal clients visit a law firm’s website before taking contact. And yes, that number includes referrals.
“Okay, what can a chatbot do? All the info is on my website.” Correct. On your website, a potential client finds a lot of information. And that’s exactly what the problem is. Why does a potential client visit a law firm’s website? He has a legal issue and want to know as quickly as possible 1) whether the law firm can help him 2) what their expertise his 3) when he can get an appointment. Many law firms focus rather on technical articles which are no real added value for the customer. Oftentimes, the info is too complex: class actions, M&A,… By the time the customer reads that, he is gone.
A chatbot has the ability to give the client the right info at the right time. A legal chatbot has the ability to provide your potential client with info such as the expertise of the law firm, its way of working and even the next steps of a possible legal procedure. All this tailored specifically to the legal issue the customer describes. It also allows the client to make an appointment with the specialized lawyer within the law firm straight away.
“Okay, I see the potential, but as a lawyer personal contact with the client is the keystone of legal services.” Agreed. High quality contact with your client is key. But why not automating the business development part, so you can spend more of the ‘missing hours’ on contact with your client? Moreover, British research conducted from 1000 people states that 7 out of 10 legal clients prefer a client facing, automated online system over help from a real lawyer. These numbers are focusing on first contact. And it makes sense as a lot of the clients experience a barrier to contact a lawyer. They are uncertain about the cost, the expertise of a law firm, the next steps and the length of the procedure. This barrier leaves a lot of legal issues unresolved. In order to lower this barrier, an easy chatbot conversation will definitely help.
Things are rapidly changing in the legal industry. Lawyers are too busy working on their day-to-day tasks, preventing them from working enough on billable work. Indispensable strategy discussions such as a customer attraction strategy are completely out of the picture, even though this is becoming more and more important given the offering of legal services by big four companies and alternative legal service providers.
In order to reconcile the fact that lawyers should attract more customers, yet want to spend less time on business development, a legal chatbot might be a great solution. It is a very efficient and cost-effective way to instantly satisfy the client’s needs.
- Lawyers spend approx. 33% of their time on business development, which is not enough. Yet this withholds them from achieving more billable hours
- The big four, boutique firms and alternative legal service providers are on the rise, which leads to more clients choosing for ‘legal marketing machines’ or cheaper alternatives. Lawyers should react and adapt
- A legal chatbot on a law firm’s website is a great lead generation solution:
- 74% of clients check out the law firm’s website, coming via a referral or not
- The chatbot offers a personalized customer centric solution for a potential client
- It asks the customer to describe his legal issue
- It explains which lawyer within your firm can help, what the expertise of your law firm is for the customer’s legal issue, explains the next steps and how your law firm works
- It allows your customer to automatically make an appointment
“7 out of 10 legal clients prefer a client facing, automated online intake system over help from a real lawyer”
Interested in how legal chatbots can help your law firm? Visit www.lawren.io or contact us at [email protected]
 Trends Legal Report, Clio, 2017, https://www.clio.com/resources/legal-trends/2017-report/#download; this is based on a survey taken from 3000 legal professionals.
 Middelgroot advocatenkantoor zit te slapen en verliest terrein, FD 2018, https://fd.nl/ondernemen/1265743/middelgroot-advocatenkantoor-zit-te-slapen-en-verliest-terrein
 Thomas G. Martin, Marketing automation for lawyers, 2019, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_practice/publications/law_practice_magazine/2019/MA2019/MA19Martin/.
 Google Legal Services Study, 2015.
 Begrijpen wat juridische consumenten willen, Cicero Law Pack, 2018, https://jubel.be/begrijpen-wat-juridische-consumenten-willen/.