For lawyers who want to use technology in their firm but are overwhelmed by options and implementation challenges, this episode is for you. In this Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, hosts Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street talk to Chad Burton about legal technology trends and how law firms can step up their tech game. They challenge the idea that lawyers are generally tech-averse and talk about the regulatory issues that affect client communication through technology. Stay tuned for app tips for law firms and how apps can help lawyers facilitate client communication.
Chad Burton is the CEO of Curolegal and is a former litigator who developed one of the nation’s first “new model” law firms, leveraging cloud-based technology and modern business practices to develop a lean virtual law firm.
Lunch Hour Legal Marketing
Demystifying Legal Technology Trends
Kelly Street: You’re the Worst, have you seen the TV show, You’re the Worst?
Gyi Tsakalakis: No. Do they own an app?
Kelly Street: No, it’s on Hulu, which is an app and I love it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Do you have Hulu?
Kelly Street: It’s terrible. I do have Hulu.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Do you pay for Hulu?
Kelly Street: Yes.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s another thing you pay for aside from The New York Times.
Kelly Street: I also pay for Netflix.
Gyi Tsakalakis: HBO?
Kelly Street: Not currently.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Okay.
Kelly Street: We only pay when Game of Thrones is on.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Dune tintin tintin tintin tintin tintin —
Kelly Street: Have you heard the goat version of that?
Gyi Tsakalakis: No.
Kelly Street: Baaa, baaa, baaa, baaa.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s good. That’s how you do creepy.
Kelly Street: Oh my God, they are going to keep this. They are going to keep this. And I am going to doubt — like nobody is going to take us seriously, Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s good, they shouldn’t. Everybody takes themselves too seriously.
Kelly Street: Oh my God, they are going to keep my goat noise.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So anyway, we have got a great guest today.
Kelly Street: We do, we do indeed. We are going to get to talk to Chad Burton about apps, lawyers and technology and a bunch of other little fun stuff like how he enjoyed practicing as an attorney and then didn’t enjoy it so much and enjoyed making technology more.
So how about we quit witty bantering and let’s dive into the show.
Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, the Reboot.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, with your hosts Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street, teaching you how to promote market and make fat stacks for your legal practice, here on Legal Talk Network.
Kelly Street: Chad Burton, the guy who people attribute as pioneering the new age of law firms. With that hefty title, welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing Chad Burton.
Chad Burton: Hi. I want to know who those people are because they are obviously misguided, but I guess I will take it, right?
Kelly Street: I think I found that quote on ABA something.
Chad Burton: Perfect, that’s where it needs to be. That is totally credible at that point.
Kelly Street: Gyi and I are very excited to be talking with you today about using technology and boosting access to legal services.
Chad Burton: Awesome. I am happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Kelly Street: So can you tell our listeners just a little bit more about yourself and your background?
Chad Burton: Sure. So I like many in our little legal tech innovation world started out practicing law, practiced in big firms, small firms, actually started my own firm and grew a virtual law firm model and then that kind of parlayed into CuroLegal doing tech consulting and outsourcing for solo and small firms, which then developing technology for the industry in general, not just solo and small firms.
And today, while running Curo and continuing the tech development, we have also spun off a venture studio model and are building a national plug-and-play franchise-like law firm model as well, kind of tying everything together.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Very cool. So let me put on my, I am a lawyer, I have been practicing for 100 years and I know that I get clients from doing great work, building a reputation and meeting people, how does technology fit into that soup for me?
Chad Burton: I mean I think practically at this point, it is fitting into everyone’s practice one way or another, it just depends on what types of technology and how lawyers want to use it. I am pretty sure just about every lawyer is going to have email at this point or using other related basic technology.
I am kind of — well, let me also answer another way, I am kind of tired of that narrative that old lawyers don’t care about technology, I am not aiming that you.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Me too, no, no, no.
Chad Burton: I am talking about in general, okay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, fire at me. No, I agree.
Chad Burton: Why did you ask that question?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Because I was getting you to bristle a little bit here, get you fired up.
Chad Burton: Right, that was hard, it took a little while, it took three minutes.
No, let’s stop it, as far as this concept of, oh, lawyers are adverse to technology and blah, blah, blah, no, they are not. We are at this really cool spot in the legal tech space in that there’s so much coming out and there are so many options nowadays and I think it is a fair narrative to discuss the fact that some lawyers feel a bit frozen by the number of choices, but at this point, with the exception of those random stories where you hear somebody got dinged with an ethics violation because, I think it was a North Carolina lawyer or something refused to get an email address, those are outliers at this point.
Most of the lawyers I talk to on a daily basis are actually excited about technology and want to use it better. So I think it has a role for everyone and this whole lawyers are slow to adopt I think is just — it’s been used in different contexts, maybe part of it is as a sales mechanism to try to spur the legal industry forward, but I just — I would be fine with that maybe five, seven, eight years ago, but I think that’s just changed now.
Kelly Street: I appreciate you saying that. As a, I mean even a person who is not a lawyer and never was, I think it is becoming more of a being afraid of all of the options out there, or I shouldn’t say afraid, being frozen by all of the options out there as you said and being overwhelmed.
I had that conversation with a solo, a new solo last week who wanted to do all of these different marketing things, but said she was just super confused and there are so many options out there now, how do you know which one to go with?
Chad Burton: Right, yeah, and I think that’s — and it’s not a bad problem, because if you think let’s say 10 years ago, especially in the solo and small firm world, that’s when Rocket Matter and Clio launched. They are both celebrating, I think, their 10th anniversary or did recently, they were kind of the entry points to the cloud-based maybe modern era of technology. And so back then you had very few choices, but now, yeah, there’s a lot, so how do you — that’s part of the challenge now is figuring out what to use in your law firm, but at the same time I think people are figuring out and realizing you just need to try things.
And it was just a week ago, I was talking to a lawyer who had reached out to me for some help, random person, I don’t know him so I can use this, he is not in a kind of this traditional small world of legal tech innovation and he had started a firm after being a equity partner in a large firm for, he said 25 years. And he said yeah, I spent the past couple of weeks, I started my firm, I brought 100 clients with me, by the first couple of weeks I spent setting up my practice management software, learned how to use QuickBooks Online, set up my Google for our G Suites or whatever they are calling it nowadays, the Google email system and I am off and running.
Yeah, I could use it better, but I am good, I am moving. This isn’t that hard. Yeah, it’s kind of fascinating where you just have to sometimes pick things and move.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Definitely. So I know and you talk to so many lawyers, so you have such a great lay of the land for what are some of the most common questions and issues that lawyers are facing, what tend to be — getting beyond just this idea of being tech adverse and even beyond just the kind of paralysis by options, what types of things are lawyers asking about that are causing them problems in terms of — or challenges that they are facing that they are trying to solve at the intersection of whether you want to call it client development, marketing and technology? Like is it a — are there specific like questions that you hear over and over again that relate to an implementation or a product or is it all over the map?
Chad Burton: I mean in some regards it’s all over the map. Recently what we have been seeing a lot of, it’s firms who are really looking to step up their game. They have a solid practice or are moving towards the goals that they have, but they want better systems and processes.
So maybe it’s using new technology but it’s leveraging what they have better, but also focusing on data-driven decision making, especially when you are talking about it in the context of client acquisition. They have got leads from different places, coming in from a whole bunch of different sources, whether it’s Avvo, their website, coming from referral sources, but they make sure that they are optimizing the conversion of those leads go through the technology and systems and processes by using the human factor as well, making sure that they are leveraging all of that in conjunction.
So I think it’s really an optimization point and kind of stepping up your game in a way I guess is a way to think about it. That’s been a trend that we have been seeing quite a bit, and probably a lot of that has to do and those discussions have to do with our plug-and-play law firm model I was talking about earlier where that’s where a lot of these conversations are happening.
Kelly Street: Yeah. Can you talk more about what your plug-and-play law firm model is if people aren’t familiar with it?
Chad Burton: They are probably not because we are ramping it up now. So it’s a company separate from CuroLegal actually. Billie Tarascio and I have started this with some other folks and we are building out a concept called, I don’t think I have said it, but Modern Law Practice is the name of the company and the concept.
But we are building systems and processes and technology so that lawyers and firms can plug into a standardized solo or small firm practice, everything focusing from intake systems through the end of the case. And that’s a model we are building and we are implementing it across the country, so that’s kind of fun. A little bit different than we have done before, but really looking at a standardized approach, one, because that will help the individual lawyers be able to optimize their particular practice, but at the same time, from a bigger picture perspective, we are going to be able to better inform the industry as to the direction of solo and small firms as we gather data and can inform in the aggregate the trends that we see.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Very cool. And is that practice area specific or is that going to be more like — who is the target audience there? Is it anybody that’s a solo or small firm lawyer?
Chad Burton: Ultimately, it is not practice area specific; however, we are working with business lawyers and family law lawyers right now, getting out the gate those two demographics.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Cool.
Kelly Street: So referencing what Gyi said about how you have all these — you are so connected to the solo and small law firm community, and having a solo firm yourself in the past, is there anything that you think is sort of missing in law firm marketing and client development, any kind of technologies that need to be developed that could help lawyers do better marketing and have better and happier clients at their firms?
Chad Burton: Actually there’s a reason why we are building this model that I just talked about is because we think that’s missing, that standardization model. So we will be building some technology related to data analytics that go along with it, leveraging some existing technology, but there’s an opportunity for a more focus on data in very specific ways that can inform, not only general health of a practice, but getting to uniform billing models and things like that.
So I think there’s some data opportunities that are out there, but that’s when I think about what’s missing, I guess there’s that, plus, and I don’t want to go derail into another area that gets me fired up pretty quickly, but talking about regulatory issues.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, let’s go there, let’s go there.
Chad Burton: You want to go there, okay. Regulatory issues that are blocking lawyers’ ability to get work which is a way of leveraging technology. So when you see opinions from different states, including my own here in Ohio, which say basically anti-Avvo type opinions, where Avvo is leveraging their marketing power and technology to help consumers get connected with lawyers and are handing lawyers work, lawyers who want to work, basically handing them, and yes, charging a marketing fee because that’s reasonable. You two know more than — better than anyone as far as the idea that lawyers are paying for Google AdWords, other Facebook, social media, where they are paying to get clients in the door, same kind of model, but states are blocking the ability for lawyers to leverage those opportunities out there.
We are seeing some positive trends. Illinois, Oregon are working towards, I don’t know if they are rules or opinions, I think they are rule changes to allow for private lawyer referral services, but that’s a problem that I have seen and something that’s — I guess it’s a way of looking at what’s missing, because there’s work, we have this — you hear different numbers, but billions of billions of dollars of untapped legal services are out there. People who need access to legal services and want them and then you have lawyers who are saying hey, I want work, and then if we are using regulations to block the ability to connect those two, that’s pretty absurd to me and protectionist and I fail on a bunch of other words there.
So that’s something I think that we have been seeing the trend going backwards a little bit lately, but then like I said, with at least a couple of places we see some forward-looking trends as well.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So call up your state Supreme Court justices.
Chad Burton: That’s right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Find where they are having lunch. No, don’t do that.
Chad Burton: Go to the red hand, no, that’s different, never mind.
Kelly Street: I mean these things do need to change because Gyi and I, we had a client at AttorneySync who cited their state rules that they can’t use — apparently they cannot use a client testimonial and they were afraid of having an ethics violation if they did so. And that kind of thing is just — I mean it’s insane that those are the kind of rules that lawyers have to follow in states.
Chad Burton: Yeah, I mean it’s — not only are we seeing from some of the states a state progress, but there are also some groups, I am involved with them in different ways of kind of functioning outside the Bar world that are really looking at focusing on data, but also looking at using data and trends to inform redrafting rules and it’s a little different than we have seen in the past, but I would say it’s more of a grassroots kind of effort to start moving those trends in the right direction because it’s going to have to be taken care of.
There was a Twitter conversation going on for I think all of yesterday on this topic and it just — and that seems to happen about once a week, and it’s produced some good outside of Twitter action, not just tweets, because that isn’t actually doing anything, that’s talking —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Some IRL action in real life.
Chad Burton: There’s real life stuff happening, absolutely, it’s magical.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s great. So I want to pull this, because we can go into the rule stuff for forever and I get very fired up about that too, but I don’t know if our listeners beyond what they could do to influence what’s going on in their state, during their lunch hour here, let’s try to pull it back to, and I know this is kind of a big topic and there’s a whole probably process and system for doing this. But what are some of the questions that lawyers should be asking themselves about choosing technology as it pertains to client development?
I know that’s really broad and vague, but I think so many lawyers, like they don’t even know where to get started. So they — whether they get pitched on a software or they go to a tech show or some kind of legal marketing conference, like how do you even start those conversations or brainstorming with lawyers who are trying to make some of these choices about client development and technology?
Chad Burton: It is a big topic because it really — it just depends on where they are starting. Some have done some research, some have not at all and are looking for a way to get started and become educated on it. So I mean it really is all over the board.
So first and foremost, you have got to look at where they are, what they have already explored themselves, what are they using, what have they tried in the past that maybe works and doesn’t work, and so I mean that’s where the conversation has to start, because everyone is coming from different angles for sure.
One of the applications we developed with the American Bar was abablueprint.com that we launched about a year-and-a-half ago and we are working on a second version that’s going to go live here in August. But that came from a focused discussion where aiming at a demographic that you are talking about there, where it’s, these are folks who — solo and small firms who know they need to do things but just don’t know where to get started.
And so we came up with the Version 1 that brought in a selected group of vendors that were operational and also marketing-oriented so that we could introduce our subset of lawyers who had really never thought about these issues, introduce them to the concepts, and it worked very well because well, one, we saw that lawyers were actually engaging and signing up for services, which is great.
But at the same time, they were also — many of them were learning for the first time about some of these tools. So what would happen it felt a lot like when we were doing our consulting, and that’s what we modeled this after, you can make all the recommendations in the world, but lawyers still like to learn for themselves.
So what we would do through Blueprint is they could go through and answer a bunch of questions and Blueprint was making recommendations for them to sign up for, and so what they do is go outside of Blueprint, go do a bunch of research and we know this was happening because we would see it through the live chat feature and other avenues within Blueprint. They would go out, do a bunch of research, come back and then either make purchases or signed up for consulting help because now they had some questions.
Even if they didn’t sign up for what was included with Blueprint, that’s a huge win, because this is — for the first time a lot of these folks are looking at these concepts and thinking about them and figuring out how to implement them in their practice. So that’s a big — and like I said, it kind of went along the lines of when we did consulting for smaller firms, where we would get hired by some firms or lots of firms, but a lot of them we would do assessments for and make recommendations, spend a lot of time discussing, learning about their firms and goals, et cetera, and then at the end of the day we would make recommendations and most firms would — it would trigger a lot of discussions and maybe some additional research, which was pretty cool and then we could move on to implementation from there.
But everyone is in lots of different places, so that’s what we have tried to do with Blueprint, for example, is try to help move that along so that it limits the unknown for people.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Cool.
Kelly Street: So you said that you would do kind of an assessment with small firms, what are some of the benchmark things that you were looking for related to marketing and client development?
Chad Burton: Most of the firms that we would work with had very little in place strategically and we still hear this a lot today, where it’s, well, I get most of my referrals from word of mouth and friends and family and colleagues and things like that, so we looked for what was in place first and foremost to the extent that there were — they had services and they were focused on — whether through the website or social media we would obviously dive in and look at the effectiveness of that as well, see if it was working and is it bringing the types of clients they want into the firm or is it generating — not wasting their time, but something that’s in line with their goals.
So that’s oftentimes if the — actually, this is where we would bring in folks like you that have way more expertise on it, but just even looking for a benchmark to see if something is in place, because when we are talking technology, it seems, at least from the firms that we worked with, they wanted to start with operations before jumping into the marketing part, which is interesting, because you have this constant chicken and egg thing going where they need the clients to pay for the stuff they need to run a better firm, they need to be more efficient and be able to process clients and do the work better, but they need the clients in too. So that’s a lot of what we would see.
Gyi Tsakalakis: We know those chickens and eggs.
Chad Burton: I am sure you have had a lot of them.
Kelly Street: Yeah, even as a business ourselves we have the same issues. It is all about running a business and how to handle all of the different elements of that.
Chad Burton: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. So one of the other things that I thought Chad might be an expert and innovator or what else, innovation, automation, streamlining, law practice life, future technology person on, so you are familiar with a lot of the landscape of legal tech in general and one of the things that’s been recently coming up, at least on our horizon, is this idea of apps for law firms.
So not just like all of the different legal tech apps, but an app developer actually building an app for a law firm. Some of them I look at and I am like well, technically yes, this is an app, you can download it to your phone, but it’s not really doing anything beyond maybe serving as like a business card for the law firm.
Chad Burton: Right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: One, is this even a topic you want to say anything about, but I would kind of like to get your thoughts on if you have seen these law firm specific apps and if you have seen any of that have been — you think are interesting and what are they actually doing?
Chad Burton: The ones that I have seen that are interesting to me, yeah, I have seen the — well, for years since iOS — in the iOS store you see law firm apps that really are just business cards, where you can make a phone call, which are fine, and that gets on the app bandwagon. But I think the ones that I have seen recently are focused on really helping to facilitate the conversation and the communication between the law firms and the clients, whether it’s integrating with different types of practice management software that leverages that.
The key is — we know this from a client happiness standpoint and from a why most ethics complaints arise, it’s because of lack of communication. And obviously that has so many tentacles to it, because the lack of communication, it’s not that lawyers have a problem talking, it’s while they are behind, they probably haven’t done the work, so you don’t hear from them, so they don’t want to respond to your inquiries because their systems and processes suck, so it’s spiraling out of control.
But if you can use an app to help facilitate conversation, whether it’s something along the lines of actual messaging back and forth about sharing of deadlines or documents and things like that, then I think that’s an effective way for law firms to leverage an app with their clients, and it ultimately becomes I think a sales and marketing tool for them.
Because when you look at clients who are looking — consumers who are looking to hire lawyers, obviously they want somebody who can communicate with them, that’s going to do a good job, that is not going to break the bank hopefully, and tools like that, apps like that will be very useful for purposes of saying this is how we can deal with all of that. We have this constant communication back and forth and sharing of information that is automated and as a result that means we serve you better and your outcomes are better because we are on top of things.
That’s a good sales tool from my perspective.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, totally, absolutely. So I will put you on the spot, give me your top five, who do you like for that, for the client communication stuff?
Chad Burton: Oh, okay. Do you mean law firm specific type tools?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I was thinking more like — because I thought that your response to that was very useful in terms of, if we just narrow it down and make a priority of the options for a firm. So option number one might be like yeah, you could hire a developer to build your own messaging thing, that’s probably not as cost-effective. I don’t know, is it cost-effective now?
Chad Burton: Probably not, no, but it depends, it depends on your firm. It depends on the size of the firm.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, right, if you are a big firm, maybe it’s worth rolling around.
Chad Burton: Or you are a solo just swimming in cash and waking up on a bed of money, you could do it that way.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The average solo, the average solo.
Chad Burton: Right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Do you see a trend with that? Do you see more moving towards building their own tools versus buying licenses?
Chad Burton: Not really. The discussions we have had recently where folks have reached out to us that are maybe in a law firm and maybe in-house, for example, where they have an idea they want to develop. Yes, it’s something they want to use within their firm, but their real goal is, and I think this is smart for obvious reasons, but their real goal is to create something that scales, but they are trying to solve problems in their world, which is where a lot of good ideas start naturally. So I haven’t seen it from the same point of I just want to use it in my firm and not span beyond that.
We have seen some, and this is actually since Curo started, we have seen this off and on where firms have specific needs or workflows that they like and the technology that’s out there just doesn’t get it done, where maybe they are using Google for work or I keep calling it that, G Suites, because I hate G Suites, that sounds dumb to say, but maybe G Suite and Docs and they want emails to be converted into PDF and automated to do certain things, to store in certain box files, those don’t exist even if I am using things like Zapier, you are not quite getting there. So maybe they will spend $10,000, $15,000 to build effectively a plug-in, like a prone plug-in or something to help their workflow. That might be worth it. So we have seen that. We have seen that for years actually.
You were talking about certain apps and the one that kind of came to mind and in the context of Blueprint is a good example and I am not saying this in any kind of — I have got any kind of relationship, I just learned about it a few weeks ago, it’s Your Firm App. Have you guys heard of that?
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, it’s new to me.
Kelly Street: No.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, new stuff, let’s talk new stuff.
Chad Burton: Let’s talk new stuff. It is a — it’s a lawyer, his name is Chris Smith, he is practicing law. He has built an app. And it goes to that communication tool model I was talking about earlier as a way to — it’s a — I think his model is, hopefully I get this right, I am sure people could fact check this by using the Internet, because I think that’s how it works.
But his concept is he has almost a SaaS-type model where you can put your branding on the app and then it integrates, I believe with Clio now, and you can use Clio Connect from a messaging standpoint and sharing of information and calendar appointments and things like that.
But it has — it’s not a Clio app, it’s for you — it’s called Your Firm App so that makes sense, so it has your firm information on it. So you could give it to a client or you have a new client come in and you can say, download, go to that, Google Play, go to iOS App Store and download this app and this is how we share information with you. I think that’s an interesting concept. He’s really early in, but I think it’s a cool idea.
Kelly Street: Yeah, I just went and looked it up myself and it has the — like you mentioned the practice management integration calendaring, so clients can view appointments and make appointments, messaging, documents, pay their bill, and see their bill. This is incredible. I mean, this is — would be a real game-changer for a small firm or solo to be able to say, okay, it’s all in one place, go and download the app and you’ll be able to do everything on there and have total transparency for what’s going on with your case. This is really cool.
Chad Burton: Chris can thank us for blowing up his concept.
Kelly Street: Yeah, I know obviously. I was actually going to ask though, I know I just said like, oh yeah, you can go and download our app, but as former practicing attorneys, both you and Gyi, how do you think clients are going to receive that because I know there are people in the world who are like, I don’t want another thing on my phone but do you think most clients would be receptive to something like that?
Chad Burton: I mean, I think if it’s going to provide value, I would think they would go for it. What’s your thought on that, Gyi? Do you have any?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, my thing — two things, one is and we talk about this all the time with like designing your firm’s client experience is like here, question number one, would this work for you, would it be a good way for us to communicate? We have this option of you downloading this app and here’s all the advantages that it’s going to provide you, right?
So, I think that’s a step that’s missed with so much of this stuff when you’re talking about interfacing with your clients is, no one actually asks what the client wants to do and so what you had said and mentioned, Chad, I think is right, is all of this stuff, all this technology from a client development, client relationship standpoint has to start with how is this helping the client, right? Like, how is this making it easier, whether it’s some of the big ones that come to my mind are, if you’re a firm that you require people to come to your office for every client communication, guess what, like most of your clients are probably like, ah, I got to drive to the office. I’m busy with my job, I got to take a half day off, I got to find childcare versus you can just send them a link to go do something that you need them to do or to some communication.
So, any way, in this context, like yeah, if you put all that stuff forward that this app is going to help you do X, Y, and Z and make your life easier and make you more efficient, you’re not going to have to come to the office and we’re going to be able to move through things faster and you’re going to be able to stay up on your case then, yeah, I think that’s great.
I think they is an interesting thing about this and I’m actually surprised, I actually put the ball back in your court on this one, Chad, to get a sense of what you think, but I’m surprised more of the legal-tech practice management, the stuff that’s client portal stuff doesn’t allow lawyers to do more of like their branding on those apps.
Outside of legal you see that all over the place like most of the apps that we use, they let us do that, is that you think that there’s — is that just because there haven’t really — I don’t know, what do you think about that topic?
Chad Burton: When we — I mean, this has been years and years and years ago when we were using, trying to use that client portal idea out of practice management software, we had — it’s going to depend on your type of client too, so obviously that matters going back to your comment, Gyi, about is this something you want, it’s going to depend; but, we had two issues that occurred that didn’t help.
One is going to, if you’re asking a client to integrate a new app or communication style outside of text messaging, outside of email, it has to really be seamless and useful. And for example, we had issues with client portals and these are mostly business clients for us that would say, okay, that’s awesome.
We get the value of it, we get that how everything gets to stay together in one place and that’s super-valuable, but guess what, I’m busy. If you honestly think you’re going to send me an email and there’s going to be a link in it and then you’re going to ask me to log into something and I’m going to respond to you, it’s just never going to happen.
I need you to text it to me, I need you to email it to me. And that was something we ran into, and at the same time, you have to use it effectively internally.
If you say, hey, use this client portal and everybody’s super-excited about it and you kick off this new relationship with a client because this is the most important thing in the world to you and a couple months later, you’re busy with something else and you kind of fall off, you are updating and making it a useful tool, well, then you just ask them to learn something that’s actually not advancing their case or your relationship with your client.
So, it has to be simple to use but it also has to be something that as a firm and a lawyer, you’re going to stay on top of and be committed to and it’s not just like another shiny object because then it looks even worse. Because they’re like, well, why didn’t you just email me that instead of making me wonder, do I have to go to this client portal or not?
Those are things that we saw so that either uses huge.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, that’s such a good point. I like these because you get this — lawyers will get excited and there’s always new stuff coming out and there — I think a lot of times people lose sight of like, yeah, it’s cool but you actually made this more difficult for the client.
Chad Burton: Right and that’s — this is why I’ve been lately kind of excited about the trend with at least some services especially getting a virtual assistant in scheduling world where you can fit those services into your existing workflow.
For example, I use a service called Fin, it’s a virtual assistant service that is like 24-hour, 24/7 half AI, half human, where you can ask them to do anything for you, from swipes to scheduling to research, whatever it is, and I can interact with them via email, via text message or via their app, and it all ends up in the same place. I can see it in a dashboard or in the app itself, no matter how I push the information at.
And so, it’s the same idea that we’re talking about here, Fin, but it fits within my workflow almost minute-to-minute. For example, if I get an email from somebody and say that they want to schedule something and I can hit Reply-Copy-Fin and now it throws into their system and they get it scheduled or I could take an email and forward it into their system, and create a task and get it moving or I open the app and I hit the Microphone button and I can submit a voice request that way.
It fits within my world because everybody has different workflows and those workflows could vary from minute-to-minute or place-to-place, however you’re working.
So, I think that could be really interesting if we see more of that because then the client gets to function within their systems as opposed to trying to be forced into something.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Exactly, that’s good. I will check that out. It’s new to me too.
Kelly Street: I have to say going into recording this, I know we had planned to talk about apps and I had on a really cynical hat when it came to thinking about law firms using apps, and I’m really blown away at all of the use cases there are and all of the actual practical day-to-day purposes that a law firm could use an app for.
So, thank you for that, Chad. I was a little bit negative on them to start off with.
Chad Burton: There’s obviously those that are within the legal industry that we have that you put into like the legal-tech type world, but I think we’re also seeing a lot of more mainstream apps or applications or platforms, whatever label you want to put on it that are just is useful.
Whether it’s something like Trello or the Virtual Assistant Services I was talking about. So, I think we’re seeing maybe I don’t know, obviously, I have no idea what the adoption would look like from the standpoint of the industry if you want to put numbers on it. But at least, anecdotally, it seems like lawyers are using that more-and-more even if it falls outside the legal-tech type world.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I agree, I’ve seen, I’ve noticed that trend too and it’s positive and I think it goes back to which you had said at the outset, which is that lawyers are — there’s this narrative of like lawyers are like anti-technology and whether it’s changing of the guard or just a experience or trust thing, that’s drastically changing. I think that’s a good thing, I think it’s a good thing for legal services consumers and I think it’s a good thing for the practice.
Chad Burton: Right, absolutely.
Kelly Street: Couldn’t agree more. Well, Chad, thank you so much for sharing all of your technology knowledge with our listeners and where can people find you to get more information about the cool things your company and Beyond are doing.
Chad Burton: Well, first of all, thank you again for having me. This was a lot of fun. I appreciate that. One way to reach me is Twitter, which is @chadeburton. My email is [email protected], that’s another way to get me as well.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Awesome. Thanks so much, Chad, really appreciate this. And for our listeners, as always, if you have feedback, topic suggestions or would like to be a guest, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to hear what you’re doing in terms of marketing your practices and what you’re having for lunch.
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