The latest news about Google’s update to Core Web Vitals has led to a flurry of opportunistic emails from SEO companies offering their services to “fix” problem points for firms. Gyi and Conrad offer some reassurance, buyer beware tips, and what to focus on with this latest Google rollout.
Their predictions for further market consolidations hit the mark again, this time with news of the acquisition of SEO industry leader Moz by IContact Marketing Corp. Rounding out the news, they explain what’s new about Google’s new tool, Search Console Insights.
Diving deeper into Clio’s information-rich Legal Trends Report, Gyi and Conrad welcome Friend of the Podcast George Psiharis to talk about lawyer hireability and the disconnect between what lawyers think clients want and what clients say they want from their lawyers.
The three discuss how the disconnect makes sense but how fixing the issues isn’t necessarily so simple.
Special thanks to our sponsors Alert Communications, LexisNexis® InterAction®, LawYaw and Clio.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Conrad, I have a question for you.
Conrad Saam: Shoot.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What is a fair price for windows?
Conrad Saam: Well, I — are we talking about Microsoft windows or are we talking about things that you open and close?
Gyi Tsakalakis: We’re talking about those transparent glass panes that allow light to shine through.
Conrad Saam: So, I had a very interesting lesson about branding and price recently with windows. Anderson windows that we had to replace, $15,000.00. If I went to Lowes and got — I can’t even remember the name of what we actually did purchase.
Gyi Tsakalakis: There you go.
Conrad Saam: It was $5,000.00. So there is the value of a brand as taught to you by the window industry.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right and we’re going to talk about that today with our really awesome guest. We already recorded that segment but really I think one of the best segments we’ve ever done. So strap in folks this is going to be a good one.
Conrad Saam: Do you want to share who the guest is or you’re just teasing everyone.
Gyi Tsakalakis: You know that’s another thing. You’ve been really big on the T’s word in this episode.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, we’ll see. So watch it see how Gyi avoided the question again. Well played, like a great politician Gyi has avoided the question. So today, we’re going to as usual touch on the news. We have more, more, more, more google stuff in the news but after the news we have a great guest. My first guest since I’ve been on Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, George Psiharis. Yeah true story.
Gyi Tsakalakis: You’re totally used through shaded. Our good friend Jared Correia.
Conrad Saam: He’s more of a friend than a guest, yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Oh, I see. Well, I think George is a friend.
Conrad Saam: Wow, I am blowing this every, which way. Please tune in next week as Conrad torches all of his carefully built relationships live on air. George Psiharis from Clio joining us to go over the Legal Trends Report and actually dig deeper into things like pricing for lawyers.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What makes the world go round.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Teaching you how to promote market and make fat stacks for your legal practice. Here on Legal Talk Network.
Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Before we get started, we wanted to thank our sponsors Alert Communications, LexisNexis InterAction, Clio and LawYaw.
Now, let’s do some news.
Conrad Saam: First off in the news. Gyi, and Conrad are fielding tons of emails sent to our clients. We call these FUD emails. About the Core Web Vitals that is rolling out starting as we’re recording it yesterday. So the Core Web Vitals is rolling out very heavily focused on mobile and lawyers around the country are receiving emails from SEO vendors telling them that the sky is falling. Gyi, is the sky falling for your client.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Sky is not falling and you know this is the game, right. Algorithm fear core update, the experience update, Core Web Vitals updates this is the stuff that our good marketing industry uses to get people to get scared and then sell them the fix.
Conrad Saam: Gyi, would you recommend anyone listening today to switch vendors because they have received a video email from an SEO telling them how the world is falling apart tomorrow.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, probably not. But I always like –
Conrad Saam: I like the bubble play.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I always like to play devil’s advocate because again, it’s over hyped. But if your site is loading really slowly and then you get an email that’s like showing your page speed, score or your – you’ve got some kind of testing of your site that showing that your site’s loading really slowly like yeah, you should be having those conversations. You just guess what? You’re going to fix that page speed thing and your site’s not going to rank any better.
Conrad Saam: Right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: But people that show up on your site it’s going to be a better user experience you’re going to convert more leads blah, blah, blah. So yeah, I think the big thing here is like it’s one of those thing be aware of it. Make sure your folks are on it but switching vendors because you got a page speed score that you’re not happy with or someone send you an email like again, buyer beware. If you buy something because you saw a Facebook ad that said, the sky is falling and they’re going to get you from zero to two million in six months like shame on you.
Conrad Saam: Are you talking about anyone specifically?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Nope.
Conrad Saam: Come on.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’m not.
Conrad Saam: I am on a quest to get Gyi to name a life competitor on air, how treat nice.
George Psiharis: Okay, so this is supposed to be our news section as opposed to our torch the industry section.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: So the next piece of news it was interesting I found Moz. The early, early, Seattle-based SEO company led by the quirky Rand Fishkin, who was then slightly pushed out. Moz was acquired by eye contact. So that’s big M&A activity in the SEO world and continues our theme of consolidation. The other thing that we should bring up, Gyi can you talk about the Google Search Console Insights that has recently launched.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, so if you check out – I know Barry at search engine roundtable covered this and I’ve seen it floating around. And we actually I got some emails too because I clicked into it but essentially they had these insights feature which breaks down some key metrics from search console like your top performing pages and the type of queries. It’s really just a reformatting data that’s already in search console for the most part from what I can tell but if you’re looking for the free version of some insights from search console something worth checking out.
Conrad Saam: All right. Before we bring on our good friend George Psiharis, we’re going to pay some bills.
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Conrad Saam: Welcome back everyone. Now it is time for the Legal Trends Report minute. Brought to you by our very good friends at Clio and we’ve got someone from Clio in two minutes. So stick with us.
Conrad Saam: Hey, Gyi, did you know that 58% of your clients want their lawyers to use more technology.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I had a hunch.
Conrad Saam: This is thematic, right. We’ve kind of been going down this like we need more technology. We’re going to get deeper into this. So according to industry data in the past year 52% of client say they use more types of technology than ever not a shocker especially when their kids are zooming to school as minor and 50% say, they’ve become even more comfortable with that technology. Half of people want to meet through videoconferencing and handle their documents electronically and we’ve talked about this before this is probably the third or fourth round on this theme but the law firms that don’t adapt to the shifting needs of their clients they’re falling behind. We see this, and this is why we’re super happy to have George joining us.
So to learn more about what clients today are looking for and much more download Clio’s Legal Trends Report for free at clio.com/trends. That’s Clio. Spelled C-L-I-O.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes and I would like to formally welcome George Psiharis, who is a fellow Greek and also a fellow two consonant last name starter to the show today. George, thank you so much for joining us. Conrad and I are regularly fanning out over the Legal Trends Report data and so we have to say thanks to you, who are — if not the creator of certainly highly influential in the production of the Legal Trends Report. So thanks George for being here.
George Psiharis: Well, thank you for having me Gyi. Pleasure to join you and yeah, I think when we first got started with the Legal Trends Report I was certainly kind of one of the folks that first thought through how we wanted to do this kind of work and publish to the profession but to be fair since then we’ve got lots of incredible intelligent folks over at Clio who are doing the heavy lifting these days and I do get a lot of likewise nerdy fun, as you guys do out of both influencing but also learning from the analysis and work they do and finding ways to communicate it to the profession.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Thanks to all Clion’s involved in producing and publishing the Legal Trends Report and other important news how do we get one of those awesome Clio hoodies because I want one.
I’m not kidding, you don’t have to answer though.
Conrad Saam: Are you begging for swag in public?
George Psiharis: Yeah, I mean you kind of got to work for Clio for this one.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s right, that’s what I thought. I haven’t seen those floating around.
George Psiharis: You can’t see it on my left sleeve here but it’s also got my name on it because you get one as being a part of the team and comes embroidered with your name. So pretty cool and if I see any jobs that fit to Gyi, maybe I’ll pass them along but that’s your best bet.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Appreciate that George. I had a hunch that was the case and another awesome testament to the awesome culture that you guys have over there at Clio. So let’s dive in and we’ve launch our legal marketing so we like to talk about marketing, especially for lawyers and I think the starting point and — listen to your conversation with Jack on daily matters, which I encourage folks check that out too really good stuff but one of the things that Conrad and I are always talking about and we always say things like your whole marketing plan is really right there in the Legal Trends Report because it’s telling you what the pain points are for consumers but you hear it from the top, from demand, what makes a lawyer hirable according to the data in the Legal Trends Report?
George Psiharis: Such a great and important question and probably the place where I have a few of the more dynamic conversations with folks in legal industry that among the many conversations I get to have but I think it’s actually pretty simple at the end of the day. Not easy but simple, and I try to make sure that we don’t over complicate the thoughts. So we do a lot of surveying work where we go and talk to clients we go and talk to lawyers and we compare their expectations in the process and there are some surprises in there. The big ones are for me as follows.
One, respond. The single most important thing any law firm – I know that sounds – again, this falls into the not surprising but not simple right. But not simple like if it were easy everyone would be doing it but one of the challenges of the profession especially in a fragmented profession like we have where 50% of people are solos. Eighty percent of people are working in firms of 1 to 10 people. They don’t have armies of sales and service folks who are waiting for your call and yet that is the same service experience that folks expect. So one of our data points from previous Legal Trends Reports has been in kind of doing a test of about a thousand firms. Sixty percent of client inquiries went unanswered at all.
So step one to making yourself hirable is the person who’s going to call them back or email them back or respond period. And the fastest one to do so has the best bet at being hirable. You go all this length of SEO, SEM spend, shelling out marketing dollars across the board and to lose them at that last mile before you’ve had an at-bat so to speak at all, at deciding whether or not the client is a fit for you. It’s painful but it continues to be one of the biggest higher ability concerns in legal.
Conrad Saam: So hey, George I want to ask you a question on this. So like the three of us are very tech leaning –
Gyi Tsakalakis: At least you two are.
Conrad Saam: There’s a lot of conversation about marketing automation and process and simplifying things and taking your hands off it and how much of this responsiveness — because you’re right, it’s key and again not shocking but not easy. How much of this do you think can be solved alone with technology or how much of this do you see technology as being the assist?
George Psiharis: Yeah, look technology is always a means to an end. And one of the other things that we find that’s surprising in our research is when people are in a moment of crisis and of course it varies by the legal practice area, it varies by the circumstance. When people are kind of freaking out and looking for help there’s still this draw toward talking to another human like this empathy factor in our research that shows like if I’m losing my mind somebody’s got to listen.
And so what I find that’s interesting is not all of the interaction points in a client journey that you can create including intake are always amenable. It’s not kind of like a one size fits all for when it should be a human interaction point and when it can be an automated one. But the secret sauce is, automate the stuff that can be automated so that you spend your time in the high value interactions. And the quick example of previous research where those have jumped out.
Number one, is when I need to spill my guts about what’s going on. I don’t want to talk to anybody but the person who’s going to help me and like whether it’s through zoom or in person see their eyes –
Conrad Saam: Do you think that Chatbot’s going to help you there?
George Psiharis: But if I’m like submitting data points that need to go into a form and get automated like yeah, I get that I can do that with a Chatbot or an automated technology piece and that that can be made way easier and faster. “Hey, like we’re going to get you in touch with the person but before we do that fill out a few simple data points and that’s going to help us route you to the best person to help you or to just serve you in the best possible way.” That’s still a response and what the technology can do for you is also set expectations that you follow up on.
Hey, if you haven’t heard from me right away don’t lose your mind and that can happen at intake or it can happen when you’re serving the client down the line. It’s normal for you to not hear from me for a couple of days because other stuff is going on. If it’s an emergency, you’ll hear from me there’s this act of setting and meeting expectations where technology and automation can do that set the bar.
Of course, it then puts you on the clock to follow up on and meet that promise but it’s so different from just what typically happens in the service experience which is nothing. I don’t have no idea what’s going on so I’m either going to freak out, I’m going to be highly disruptive to you in your practice at various stages of the client journey and on the flip side these all to me present really, really important opportunities to provide better service but also in doing so become much more hirable.
The higher ability piece for me is like yeah, the responsiveness is the first step toward what you can expect in working with us and it’s not actually going to be everything you ever wanted it’s going to be me setting clear expectations and then meeting them as the most important piece and that’s where a lot of the higher ability research and stuff comes back to. And to go back to your question Conrad, I think there’s such an important role for automation technology to play to optimize and to make way better at the experiences but not to disintermediate the human connection that’s going to happen between someone who’s like I need help and someone who is going to help them right.
Conrad Saam: No, I think a lot of lawyers look at marketing automation as taking a lot of time away from them right and it’s actually taking the useless time away from them, which is good but it gives you more time to spend with the high value.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah and I think the other thing that George said that I think is really, really important because it comes up all the time when you’re talking to lawyers about automation is they hear automation and they forget about the empathy human part of it and so as George mentioned, I think articulated really well it’s the expectation setting and that stuff we recognize that lawyers are busy and so as long as we’re setting those expectations and then you know making the promise and then keeping the promise people are going to give you the benefit of the doubt, right?
If someone submits a form on your site at 12 o’clock at night and your auto responder that says, “Hey we received it and we’re going to follow up with you at nine o’clock tomorrow morning, something like that people get that and that’s the thing that’s so important because they hear automation and they think, “Oh not authentic and my clients expect to hear from me.” But it’s a balance. It’s a blend there and I think that that’s a really, really eloquent way of articulating that and also to know that it’s not a complete substitute right. There are points in the process, you’ve got to be the lawyer, the person that comes there and as the expert that’s an empathetic ear that’s listening in one of your client’s hardest times in their life.
Conrad Saam: So I want to switch up, going back to the Legal Trends Report. The thing that I found most surprisingly dissonant in the Legal Trends Report was price. And Gyi and I talked about this before. We have never talked price. I don’t talk price to my lawyers much and yet it is one of the foundational P’s of marketing, so I’m just going to read these pieces because this is a very, very — it’s dissonant in terms of what consumers want and what lawyers think they want. You guys had 12 items that you ranked in terms of lawyer hire ability and you had consumers and lawyers rank them.
Lawyers ranked price as number 9 out of 12 in terms of importance. Consumers had it as number two. Gyi, how frequently do you talk to your clients about aggressively talking about price either in their materials or in their conversations?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So with the place that comes up for us is in competitive analysis right so if we’re running ads and you’re positioning against somebody that — from the consumer’s standpoint, it appears to be the same service. Your bankruptcy lawyer and you’re running ads and another bankruptcy lawyer is often 500 bankruptcy and you’re a $5,000 bankruptcy. We bring it up but again, price is tricky as I’m sure we’re going to talk about because it goes to the business metrics, the value of your expertise, the perception, positioning all that marketing gobbledygook that you got to decide and at the end of the day, you got to command a price that’s competitive but also works for your business.
Conrad Saam: George where do you talk to lawyers about with regards to price, I’m really curious about this because it feels like a big missing piece in the marketing conversation.
George Psiharis: Oh absolutely massive and such an area I’m excited to continue doing research but usually the conversation starts with what in the behavioral psychology world we’d call a psychological threat response i.e. somebody losing their mind talking about why their time has value and why they’re really important but yeah, all true. Let’s come down from that and let’s get into the specifics of thinking more like a social scientist in getting into economics a little bit and the places I spend time both unpacking the insights we’ve collected but also trying to make them practical. This is the other thing right.
It’s one thing to get a high-level insight consumers value price it’s another thing to be like what am I doing when I get back to my desk on Monday. What would I do with this? So a lot of time I spend working with lawyers, with firms, even with non-lawyer operation staff at firms who have questions about these areas. I try to unbundle the thought of price as one rolled up thing so, when I talk to a typical lawyer about price they’re thinking about the whole (00:20:27) like the whole like soup to nuts how much is it going to cost for a case and their thought process goes to hourly uncapped flat fee and then where appropriate contingency view billing is examples and then oh what other alternative fee arrangements exist but the thing I like to get really curious about is when consumers say price are they talking about just the overall price or the affordability and approachability of working with a law firm and knowing what that’s going to look like or even the flexibility. So there are ways of making price more manageable for your clients without just knowing how you position yourself in the market and even commoditizing your rates in ways that I know a lot of lawyers are really worried about and are worried that it can’t work.
Let’s use a couple of abstract examples, when you buy a house you’re not buying the whole thing and thinking to yourself total cost of ownership of this house is some amount that I’m literally never going to afford so I’m walking away, which I think happens is one of the main reasons we don’t see people activating CTAs on law firm websites. I have pain, I have a problem, I need help, I have no idea how much is going to cost and it gives me a reason to go back to no decision. I’m not going to do it right now I’m not going to click the link in and get started.
The thing I encourage firms to think about is number one packaging. Don’t go one size fits all with the offerings you have on your site and try to offer flexible ways to package your services and the second piece is the flexibility. So things like payment plans. Yes, the thing’s going to cost a certain level but like you buy a car, like you buy a house, like you make most of your major, major financial commitments are there ways to realize that someone might not have the total cost of ownership of working with a lawyer or case sitting around but is willing to get started and could be a very successful and lucrative client for you if you’re simply more flexible in the offerings you put in front of them.
And the way that you package your services and in the way that you position yourself within the market and I think that’s a really untapped area that doesn’t always land in a race to the bottom. I think people think about price and consumer feedback and they’re instantly thinking about, “Oh well, we’re going to be charging legal zoom rates in no time and that’s what’s going to happen.” I don’t think so people are going above and beyond to get access to a human and empathy as we discussed but maybe not in the one-size-fits-all approach of like it’s going to be by the hour and I have no idea how long it’s going to take.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. It will end to a certain extent too. I mean, at the end of the day the market determines a lot of this, right? So the expectations of legal services consumers – I mean, I can’t tell you how many times that when we do user research they never contact the firm if there’s not some level of transparency in the pricing and so you got to bake that in into your opportunity cost there in terms of balancing how you’re going to talk about price. What the price is going to be and deciding to publish pricing or communicate it on a phone, but from the Legal Trends Report, 73% of firms no information provided on rates and fees.
Conrad Saam: — times (00:23:26) is that low.
Gyi Tsakalakis: — don’t even discuss it by phone before until they actually have a consultation.
George Psiharis: Yeah. It’ll vary by practice area but yeah, I agree Conrad, I think in some practice series you’ll find it even higher than that.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, I think there is a level of suspicion. In the same way that lawyers get suspicious about talking to SEO people, right like what’s your budget like we want to have that conversation first. Its price can be looked at as a sizing up the prospect which is unfortunate, it’s also inaccurate.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Or buying windows.
Conrad Saam: Or buying windows, geez.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Conrad has a windows story but –
Conrad Saam: I did yeah. So let me go the flip side on this. And we need to take a break here but it’s just something we haven’t talked about but like when we come back after this ad break, I would like to get your thoughts George on using price as an indicator of quality and therefore like one of the things that we talk to prospective clients about as an agency is like we are not the cheapest option out there and we use that as an indicative quality. Let’s go the flip side after the break to talk about price as an indicator of quality and how aggressively lawyers should lean into that.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: And we’re back. Picking up the conversation on the flip side of price. Conrad, you want to reframe for us of people that were gone from the break.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, I mean one of the things that — so you Gyi, you’re talking about the windows. I got two bids for replacing four windows. One was from Anderson for 15 grand and one was from like Lowe’s for five and the feedback I got was, “Oh Anderson’s got really good quality windows.” Because they’re so expensive, right. And I can’t look at a window and tell you whether or not it’s a good window or not, and in the same way most consumers can’t look at a lawyer and tell you even after they’ve used the lawyer whether or not they did a good job or not. So price as an indicator of quality, how have you seen firms – I mean with this focus on price, is it a sword that cuts both ways?
George Psiharis: Well, it is. It’s a positioning statement and not all services and circumstances are created equal. It goes back to the thing for me for flexibility and even the packaging that you put out there. So we’re always going to have a world where law firms, you get what you pay for and law firms position their services and how they work and loads of different levels of experience and specialization and expertise charge disparate prices like he was saying earlier that’s set by the market more so than we know and might be obvious to us as we’re individually considering what to do with price.
I think the big opportunity in legal is that your clients have no idea why you’re charging the prices that you are and we typically don’t make that easy for them to understand. Let me explain what I mean. You go to one vendor you get a quote for five-grand, you go to another vendor you get a quote for 15-grand in the window space and they’re going to put some effort into like, “Hey here’s a product sheet or some reason why.” If they’re good at it, they’re expecting to actually sell. They’ll start to clarify you in terms that you can understand why you want to buy this window and what the trade-off is buying that window and so on. When we look at what clients give us feedback in the process of finding and then retaining a firm and working with a firm, it’s typically that lawyers do this all day every day and the process that they’re going through and the why something costs what it costs or takes as many hours as it does is really obvious to them.
For most clients, it’s the first, maybe second time they’ve ever done this and they have no idea what’s going on. They feel like they’re kind of lost and disconnected and getting bit part updates and again, in a highly stressed typically scenario and so then, they’ll flip out about price. Well, now I feel like why am I paying for this. It’s more coming from a place of I don’t know what’s going on and I haven’t gotten those expectations set and delivered.
If you do that well at the beginning say, “Yup, this is going to be a little bit more expensive than you might find elsewhere because of the following commitments I’m going to make to you and then deliver on those which again isn’t easy but is I think the major innovation and breakthrough to be made.” Then, suddenly it’s less about not understanding why the prices are what they are and I think there are plenty of good reasons that folks can describe like, “Hey I’m not going to charge as much but I’m going to be more efficient in the following ways.” Or there’s a little bit more work for you to do as part of the process we’re not going to fill that stuff out for you, you got to fill it out for yourself.
I’m generalizing but I think we all get the idea that they don’t all look the same and I think there’s something really, really transformative in there. Just like the way that a colleague of mine stated it to me was state you’re obvious. It might seem obvious to you why you’re like spending time or why it’s going to take so much but you can’t underestimate how not obvious it is to the other party and that one of the first things they default to then is questioning price because they feel like they can be in control of that. They feel like they can negotiate or exert influence by selecting another law firm to advise them for whatever it is they need. So that’s a big one for me.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Definitely, and also I’ve got to throw in there because I always have to throw an elbow at them but thank you state bar regulators for making it very difficult for lawyers to be able to communicate distinctions on experience and expertise, right? You can’t say anything. Again –
George Psiharis: I know, I know.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Objectively verifiable results, right?
George Psiharis: Yeah, yeah and I think it’s a very good call out Gyi and I don’t want to overlook that right like I know when Is talk about this stuff. I get that response from lawyers a lot as well they’re like, “Well my hands are kind of tied.” And there’s a lot of regulation in our space and even ethics rules that we have to abide by totally fair, within those though I think there are still ways to get creative or simply to be clear to help set and really meet expectations with the client, that are about what you offer and to your point less about differentiating too much about what other people offer. Here’s my why, you know my obvious of why it is what it is I can’t speak to what you’re going to get elsewhere type of thing.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, I love that too. I love the — sure you’re obvious and the other thing too that I think lawyers we talk about this a lot too but sometimes it’s not even about positioning from an expertise standpoint I mean tech competencies can be a huge competitive advantage right. We take online payments so you don’t have to come to our office to sign documents. All that kind of stuff can really be strong and command a higher price because that efficiency you’re gaining, you’re going to pass some of that on to your clients and so you can increase margin and make the experience better for the clients. Those things can command price.
George Psiharis: Big plus one on the margin comment and I think one of the things we’re going to be curious to talk about is the big shift we’re seeing in the overall workplace environment that folks are in but could you not deal with paying the lease in that AAA downtown commercial office space and charge the same rate and have a much higher margin at the end of the day in your business. Like other opportunities as well where you can dabble with both passing savings along to the client or providing a technology driven experience that passes those savings along to you as well.
Conrad Saam: So let me ask you this, the big shift right and price and margin. These are all things that every service business is thinking about right now, do you think the pendulum is going to swing back? Do you think we’re going to go back to the office as aggressively as we did? I mean, the funny thing is from a cost perspective, the cost of maintaining — its binary you’re either, you can’t dabble in being — you don’t get the cost savings of being in the office two days a week, right?
George Psiharis: Yup.
Conrad Saam: We’ve got very comfortable Zooming around the world. Does that shift back and if it doesn’t, does that change the addressable market for lawyers? What I mean, 24 months ago we were talking about local, local, local, local, local has that changed to statewide, right?
George Psiharis: Yeah, I mean, that is the question of the day for the next while, right? And it’s crazy seeing all the different studies being spun up including some that were looking at work from anywhere environments before the pandemic happened to and seeing what insights there are that are available. I can share an opinion?
Conrad Saam: Go.
George Psiharis: I think we’re going to have to wait and see how it goes to be sure as I think everyone’s expecting but two things for me. One, client expectations are going to drive the bus. I think that we’re going to see firms have to be responsive to where their clients expect them to be and I do think there’s going to be a shift of like, “No, I’m not coming downtown to hand you a check.” Even taking the millennial and younger route like, “I’m not going to go to the bank. Get a book of checks because I don’t use them for anything else.” Then sign them and go downtown and pay you that way. I think there’s going to be a lot of that and in general in the e-commerce space, we’ve seen people experiment with try and trust online buying experiences way more across the board.
those experiences are going to influence how they’re going to think about working with anybody including their lawyer and law firm and they’re going to want a really good reason to have to meet in-person and they’re going to drive the bus on that. I want to meet with you in-person because I want to spell my guts on what’s going on and have somebody listen and know that somebody’s listening and if you don’t want to do that that’s a friction point or on the flip side if you require me to come in for everything that’s transactional and not automate in the way that we were talking about before I don’t know, I just think there’s no going back and that part is going to continue to be crafted around what client experiences are.
Then on the flip side, you’ve got how do law firms want to run their teams, their companies, their businesses, do they like living and working at home and I think it’s going to be a flavor of what we’re going to see more broadly in the workplace which I know a lot of folks don’t want to hear but the movement I’m seeing is very hybrid. We’re going to have environments where folks want the option to put on actual clothes, emerge in the public sphere, get a coffee and then head into work two days a week maybe three, maybe one. And the most competitive employers in general are going to be the places that allow folks to have that flexibility. At the same time, they want to go work in remote for a month and want to spend some time with family out there like they’re going to want to have that flexibility as well. And the challenge to them will be to make sure that they remain productive. Don’t go and kind of be on a vacation if you’re promising to work from somewhere.
I think that’s what’s come leaps and bounds is when we started the pandemic everyone was really bad at working from home because they hadn’t done it before. But over the course of a year and a half, I think people have gotten a lot better and have found a groove that maybe they don’t want to do all the time but that they could think about doing when they need to as part of rounding out how they want to live their lifestyle more and more often.
On the topic of local though especially as it relates to even things like winning in the search game online and local listings, I think it’s still going to be a presence for us. I don’t think we’re fully cutting over to, I’m in currently Miami and Vancouver, Canada my first impulse isn’t going to be like for a personal legal need for example to go and find someone who’s in Ontario and talk to them still feels kind of speaking more from personal experience but there’s going to be at least a semi-local poll and if that person is based and focused on serving clients here but happens to be two hours out of the city and we’re on Zoom like that works. But there’s still a bit of a nexus to your location depending on the practice area.
A really, really cool counter example. Again, that predates the pandemic is a company called Notarize. I don’t know if you ever heard of them or followed what they’re up to but they are doing some really interesting work in the notary space. In particular, working with law firms that need documents notarized but also with obviously various types of commercial enterprises.
So we think about companies like construction companies who need to get notarized documents for property related stuff all the time. They’ve shifted to a model where you can meet with them remotely and it can be an actual notary license to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I believe which was one of the first places to allow folks to notarize documents remotely and they’ve gone a bit more aggressive in sponsoring that model where yeah, to your point Conrad can get a notary and I don’t know Arkansas somewhere but who’s licensed in Virginia and can help you with the document that you’re a notarization that you need.
Seen some evidence of that, I think it’ll work more in transactional spaces and less in environments where people want access to human empathy and advice. That’s a long answer but I –
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, that was really good.
George Psiharis: There’s a lot to unpack in this area.
Conrad Saam: No, I think that it’s going to be practice area specific and definitely going to trend towards the local thing, proximity matters for certain practice areas. It really does. We see it in conversion rates on ad campaigns. People want that person that’s familiar with their local market. I mean, you even see a silly one is even like the area code on a phone number can make a difference in whether or not someone will even call a lawyer so I think it’s yeah, I think there’s some context where you’re going to expand the radius but in many it’s still local.
Seth Godin has a great post about this idea of clusters and it really is true and those affinity groups, those community groups that you participate in whether it’s like youth sports or local schools stuff like that. It’s still extremely local.
Conrad Saam: So I want to tease that out. Because there’s two flavors of —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Tease it out.
Conrad Saam: Tease, I want to be a tease. No, there’s two flavors of local. There is the, I’m very active in your community. I coach little league. I’m a church regent. I organize a 5k or right go to restaurants like that has nothing to do with the practice of law. The other flavor of this is I know the judges, my office is near the courthouse, everyone knows who I am in the legal industry. Either of you have a perspective on –
Gyi Tsakalakis: You better not advertise that you have a relationship with the judges, as you’re going to be in ethical hot water really fast.
Conrad Saam: The judges know who I am.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I wouldn’t even say that.
Conrad Saam: The good thing is Gyi keeps me out of ethics jail.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, I don’t. Despite my best efforts.
George Psiharis: That’s what someone who keeps you out of ethics jail would say, by the way. No, I don’t.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s so true. You have a question in there for us Conrad?
Conrad Saam: Here’s my question, do you have a perspective on the consumer side? Do they care about the fact that you are a little league coach or that you’re understanding — a word that’s more carefully Gyi, your understanding of the local legal market is deeper?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, let’s talk about — I’ll let George, I’ll say a quick one. Let’s talk about the local little league coach. They might not care you are little league clubs but guess what, that’s how they know and trust you. That’s the thing, so it might not have anything to do with your ability to practice but in the consumer’s mind, the proximity there’s something psychologically about, “Hey, you’ve got the same area code I do.” But you’re familiar with my community, but anyway George what do you got to say on that?
George Psiharis: I feel like I’ve given a lot of it depends answers, which can be so annoying but –
Conrad Saam: We never do that, yes.
George Psiharis: It’s just like — if you like within the sub segments at least of what it depends on, I feel I do have some opinions so I’ll default to those. So there is, I think a community and a customer type to serve in legal that is very much word of mouth referral driven. When they search to go and find a firm, the only thing they’re going to do is ask their friends and family or close personal connections for a referral. And obviously, they’re always going to look to you who knows who, and the little league and I think it’s for every practitioner and firm to decide, is that my audience. Is that who is the ideal client profile for me, and if that’s the case then yeah, it’s important for me to be active in front of them in that way.
Then you’re going to get different crowds that are like I’m looking for the best person available anywhere to do a thing. I want — or it’s a really niche area of expertise and so there’s like five people who could do this period. It’s almost like a bad thing to be the referral from the local little league like does this person really know at a world-class level and in the big leagues — and so on, and obviously those are extreme opposite ends of the spectrum and there’s everything in between but I just I feel that’s going to matter and depend a lot on who you’re trying to talk to and that a lot of the time firms I work with haven’t really specifically, who I want to talk to as anybody who could use my services not like a specific subset of people out there that I want to be really the best at getting in front of.
That’s to me is going to vary a lot based on practice area, based on market and frankly, based on the demographics of the profile the folks that you really want to work with the most, big time.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, 100%. So, you’ve been very generous with your time. So I don’t want to keep us too long but two quick follow-ups. One is I think this teased out something for using Conrad’s tease there, it’s may be interesting to see in Legal Trends Report data segmented by practice area because there is such it depends there on different practices. So the final question is — we already asked you to prognosticate a bit, but now we’re going to ask you to look way out there 5 to 10 years, what do lawyers need to know about what’s happening in the legal industry, your opinion chatter, just pure guesses where are we going?
George Psiharis: I think we’re going into way more data-driven profession and the big, big thing we’re going to see is both information and sources of data that are available to lawyers and law firms but the big, big one for me is clients have been operating in a black box for a long time. They don’t know how the system works, they don’t know how to get access to information and I see a world developing wherein the information era that we live in that is catching up to us in legal is going to get there in the next 5 to 10 years, big time and it’s going to change the dynamic of lawyers and law firms.
First blush of that was client reviews. Remember how much everybody started with and continues to hate client reviews. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in my mind. Clients are going to be way more informed than ever. They’re going to have tools at their disposal that can give them an estimate on how much a case should cost and then come to you with that and I can already see a lot of really interesting powerful work that both makes access to justice more accessible, but comes with some really, really meaningful considerations.
I’ve never truly bought into the robot lawyer apocalypse on the flip side, where in 10 years we’re just punching in data points into a machine and it’s telling us our legal outcome versus working with people. My research continues to point me to the fact that humans want to see humans, and that the trust dynamic is better developed there. I think that maybe longer, longer term development but also seems to be less of a thing than actually I want machines to give me information that I can use to negotiate with other humans. If that makes sense so I see that as a big, big part of where we’re ahead in the next 5 to 10 years and it’s uncomfortable but also I think for the better long haul.
Gyi Tsakalakis: George awesome. Thank you again so much for spending time with us today. I think, I heard couple future Clio products in there in that little prognostication. If people want to get a hold of you what’s the best way to connect with George.
George Psiharis: For sure at George Psiharis on twitter. It’s P-S-I-H-A-R-I-S in the last name. You can look me up on Linkedin as well. Those are the two I’m most active on. Don’t look for me on Instagram. Nowhere to be found there and happy to keep the conversation going.
Gyi Tsakalakis: George thanks again so much. Thanks for Legal Trends Report and looking forward to the upcoming Clio Cloud Conference, this October?
George Psiharis: That’s right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: All right. So thanks again and have a great day.
George Psiharis: Thanks for having me guys you too.
Conrad Saam: As always, thank you so much for listening to this episode and hopefully following us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher Podcast, Podcast, Podcast. Please do leave a rating or review or send us feedback. Hit up the hashtag LHLM on twitter. We want to hear from you, tell a friend if you enjoyed this or tell a friend that this is the worst podcast you ever heard and let them be the judge. But thank you truly for listening and until next time this is Conrad and Gyi out for Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
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Podcast transcription by Tech-Synergy.com