Why Lawyers Need to Start Thinking Like Their Consumers and Get Online
by Dave Zumpano, with Guy Remond
Surveys have shown that most people would rather die than see a lawyer. Large-scale online platforms are sugar-coated as legal services, but the reality is they are a self-help service for legal products. That’s a huge disadvantage for the consumer.
It’s time for lawyers to stop worrying about losing business to online sites and instead recognize that by embracing technology, there are huge opportunities for them to increase their turnover and profit. Forward-thinking companies willing to include an online aspect to their service will increase their bottom line.
At Guidr, we are offering law firms a hybrid option: an online legal services platform in partnership with them.
It doesn’t matter what the lawyers think or feel; it’s the consumers who decide where to access legal services. Lawyers need to look at what the consumer wants, and learn to think like them.
They are telling us they do not want to be coming to see a lawyer during office hours, nor do they want to be stuck in downtown traffic or racking up lots of billable hours for services they could initiate themselves online. Not only do they want legal services to be easy to access, but they also want to be able to do some of it in their own time, and to have professional and reliable legal support.
Right now, any consumer who is accessing a 100% online legal service is not being served in the way they think they are. The legal sector needs to step up.
Risk to consumer
There are three main risks for the consumer if they rely on these 100% online platforms with no direct contact with a lawyer:
- Invalid documents
- Loss of relationship
- Lack of support
Online platforms that offer no direct legal backup take complex legal issues and dumb them down. People don’t understand the implication of missing one detail. They don’t know the difference between a notary and a witness. If they don’t complete their online forms properly, they have an invalid document. More than 25% of the legal documents that come to us from one of these major legal websites are improperly executed. They’re worthless.
Loss of relationship
People demand and desire a personal relationship at some level. They need some interaction to understand how their legal documents work. What happens when you go to see your doctor? You explain you have a pain in one part of your body and a good doctor helps you solve the problem by asking more questions based on their education and experience. It’s not a check-box exercise.
Lack of support
If you create a will, healthcare proxy, power of attorney, and a trust online via one of these services and then become incapacitated, what happens? There’s no support for your family. The computer isn’t going to tell them anything or give your family any indication of your intentions.
It’s clear that there is a need to bridge the gap between purely online and in-person legal services. At Guidr, we have created a system so that consumers and lawyers can communicate with confidence through easy-to-use technology; this hybrid model offers the best of both worlds.
Guy’s expertise as a tech entrepreneur, investor and non-executive is invaluable in demonstrating what’s possible.
Guy: “We are seeing hybrid models for retail and for events. Some retailers who have only had an online presence are now moving onto the high street using sophisticated technology. The legal industry needs to catch up.
Consumers are demanding that legal services are available online, but they’re also demanding the expert help so that the documents they produce are valid. The hybrid model we’ve created at Guidr facilitates both online and in-person support, and is easy for consumers and lawyers to use.”
I know that lawyers are concerned about how secure any online document would be, but Guy had an insightful perspective.
Guy: “It’s a lot harder to break into a well-coded system that has been set up with standard security and third-party tested. It’s inherently more secure than sending a wet signature through the post. In Spain (Europe), everything in the bank is signed on an iPad, because it’s more secure.”
The hybrid model is the perfect solution. It ensures that consumers have the legal documents and support that they need, and it provides lawyers with business they might ordinarily have missed out on if clients just used a purely online platform.
Guidr brings legal services to the consumer in a way that is convenient for them to use, and brings the consumer up to the level that the lawyer needs (for example, ensuring they can produce valid legal documents) without taking up lots of the lawyer’s time. It’s efficient and effective time management.
If you’d love to find out how Guy and I can support your law firm to support existing clients (and attract new ones) by offering a hybrid legal service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
You can listen to my full conversation with Guy on The Legal Community Podcast.
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