Clio’s Jack Newton discusses his new book and the lessons he’s learned over the last ten years studying successful law firms.
The Un-Billable Hour
Jack Newton is the CEO and co-founder of Clio, a pioneer in cloud-based legal technology. Newton has...
Christopher T. Anderson has authored numerous articles and speaks on a wide range of topics, including law...
The Un-Billable Hour welcomes Jack Newton, co-founder of Clio and author of the book The Client-Centered Law Firm: How to Succeed in an Experience-Driven World, to discuss what he’s learned over the last ten years about what separates successful law firms from the rest; what a “client-centered law firm” means and why it isn’t putting your client first; and some practical tips that will help you meet the ever changing expectations of your clients. Jack and host Chris Anderson also dive deep into the five core values of a client-centered law firm.
Jack Newton is co-founder of Clio, one of the pioneers of cloud-based practice management.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Nexa, Solo Practice University, Scorpion, and Lawclerk.
The Un-Billable Hour
Into the Future with the Client-Centered Law Firm
Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable. Welcome to this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. This is where you will get the information you need from expert guests and host Christopher Anderson, here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast helping attorneys achieve more success. We are glad you can listen today on Legal Talk Network.
Today’s episode is about, well, it’s about production in a way but it’s also about marketing, and sales. In truth it’s actually about the future of law firms and I’m really, really excited about the show and our guest today. The title of the show is “Into the Future with the Client-Centered Law Firm” and my guest is Jack Newton.
If anybody doesn’t know, Jack is the CEO and co-founder of Clio and Jack began his career with a snow shoveling business and then made his way on to a strategic vision in founding Clio as the leader in legal cloud computing.
I read a note on his bio that despite his hectic schedule he’s made time to run every day for the last 20 years which makes me really, really unimpressed with myself, who started running about three years ago and managed about three or four days a week and I thought I was really doing great, so it looks like I have something to step up to.
And, of course, I am your host, I am Christopher Anderson. I am an attorney with a singular passion for helping other lawyers achieve success with their law firm businesses and in The Un-Billable Hour each month we explore an area important to help you be a more profitable lawyer through growing your revenues, getting back more of your time and getting more professional satisfaction from your business.
The Un-Billable Hour is dedicated to bringing you guests each month to help you learn more about how to make your law firm business work for you instead of the other way around.
And before we get started I do want to say thank you to our sponsors; Nexa, Solo Practice University, Scorpion, and LAWCLERK.
Nexa, formerly known as Answer 1, is a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them a call at 800-267-9371 or online at www.nexa.com.
Solo Practice University is a great resource for solos, no matter how long you have been practicing. Make sure you check out solopracticeuniversity.com and learn how to run your practice better.
Scorpion crushes the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI-positive marketing programs today. Visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast.
LAWCLERK, where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Visit lawclerk.legal to learn how to increase your productivity and your profits by working with talented freelance lawyers.
And again today’s episode of The Un-Billable Hour is “Into the Future with the Client-Centered Law Firm” and my guest is Jack Newton, CEO and co-founder of Clio.
Jack, welcome to The Un-Billable Hour.
Jack Newton: Thanks for having me, Christopher.
Christopher T. Anderson: It’s really my pleasure now. It’s become a tradition on The Un-Billable Hour that my introductions are really crappy. So I just like to give my guests the opportunity to do a better job. So please let us know a little bit more about your background and what led you to this topic of the client-centered law firm?
Jack Newton: Sure, so my background in legal started 12 years ago when I founded Clio and my background is as a technologist, my training is in Computer Science, and what I saw back in 2008 along with my co-founder Rian Gauvreau was an enormous opportunity to bring at that point that the nascent power of cloud computing to bear on legal, which at the time we saw as one of the last, if not the last major industry to be fundamentally transformed by technology when we looked at how lawyers were practicing in the ways that they were in some cases struggling without any technology at all or in some cases struggling with the heart to use cumbersome on-premise technologies of that era. We saw an enormous disruptive opportunity to bring the power of the cloud, the power of cloud computing to bear on the legal space and launched back in 2008 the very first cloud-based practice management system, which of course was Clio.
We saw I think immediate and enormous success that has only compounded over the last 11-plus years that we’ve been on the market to the point that Clio is now the most widely used practice management system on the planet, used by over 150,000 legal professionals on a daily basis and Clio itself has become quite an enterprise where we’ve got over 500 employees in five offices worldwide today.
So, that’s a little bit of the Clio-founding story and sure and your question around the client-centered law firm, for me this has always been a passion of mine, and one of the really interesting journeys for me over the last decade plus of building Clio has been evolving the conversation about the cloud from being simply a productivity enhancer to something that allows lawyers to truly deliver legal services in a way that they weren’t able to in the past and I think that’s one of the biggest opportunities that technology and one of the underappreciated aspects of what technology has to offer to lawyers is for them to truly transform the way they’re delivering their legal services to their clients and to really raise their game and step up their game in terms of the ways they’re interacting with their clients, the way they’re delivering work product to their clients, even things this mundane is the way they’re — they are invoicing their clients and collecting payments from their clients these are all areas that technology can allow lawyers to innovate in a really substantial way and to drive really significant competitive advantages for themselves and all of that ties around, taking a completely new perspective on how you’re designing and delivering your legal services through the lens of a client-centric law firm.
Christopher T. Anderson: That is certainly a huge undertaking and I think as you said, you’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but — so I think I hope we didn’t bury the lead but you actually have written a book about this and that’s one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about today is what drove you to read this book, which by the way I recommend everybody on this podcast read the book when it comes out. When’s that coming out, Jack?
Jack Newton: The book is coming out on January 28th.
Christopher T. Anderson: January 28th is the date, everybody should pick up a copy.
Jack Newton: Thank you.
Christopher T. Anderson: To me it’s funny because the book to me is both optimistic and has embedded in it a warning and it’s to me the one of the most clarifying visions of the future since Susskind’s ‘Tomorrow’s Lawyers’ as to the path that we’re driving towards as well as the pitfalls if we are failing to adapt. So let’s just start with the words, right? What do you actually mean by “client-centered law firm”?
Jack Newton: So yeah, well, first of all, thank you for the high praise of the book. I really appreciate that and for me the catalyst for writing the book was really seeing the patterns I’ve seen over the last decade of what separates successful thriving law firms from those that struggle and in my role as CEO of Clio and traveling the country, speaking at hundreds of these sole and small firm conferences and ABA TECHSHOW and our own Clio cloud conference, I’ve interacted with thousands and thousands of lawyers and been in a privileged position to both see best practices put to work and had a unique opportunity to partner with many of these leading-edge law firms from a technology perspective, at the Clio level to really help them innovate and rethink how they’re delivering their legal services.
And the client-centered law firm as a book is really a synthesis of that decade-plus of learning and collaborating that I’ve done in conjunction with my partners at these law firms in terms of what a new model of legal service delivery might look like, and to your question around the words, this idea of a client-centric law firm is really a really straightforward concept but I hadn’t seen a book or any other kind of publication really distill in a really clear way what I thought was a playbook for what becoming a client-centered law firm looks like, and at the heart of all of this is the idea that if law firms rethink the way they deliver their legal services, as being centered around the client and really working backwards from the client and what their needs are and what their state of mind might be and what their direct as well as indirect needs and any given moment might be, displaying an enormous amount of empathy for your client and trying to proactively address what your client’s needs might be is really at the heart of what being a client-centered law firm looks like.
And we lay out five key values of a client-centered law firm in the book. It’s around developing deep client empathy, practicing attentiveness, generating ease with communication, demanded effortless experiences and every touch point with your clients all with a view to creating clients for life.
And we think if law firms are able to embrace these five core values of a client-centric law firm and really redesign everything from their intake process to the way that they work through a typical case with a client, to the way they tie off the case with a client, there’s an enormous opportunity for firms to innovate and to deliver legal services in a way that is better for the lawyer and better for the client and better for the law firm in terms of driving what we call the flywheel of growth for law firms.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, those are definitely concepts I’m going to follow up with you. I want to talk about the five course values and the flywheel concept. So what I am hear you talking about is about a law firm that’s designed around and what I have obviously been reading is designed around the client experience. And I think one of the key distinctions I think are important to draw is that between client-centered and client first. I mean, in fact you’ve got one of your chapters is entitled, “Don’t Put Your Clients First”.
And the other one is just like jumped right out of me, because I’m like we’re talking about client-centric, I am like don’t put your clients first, and I think that’s a huge pitfall that a lot of law firms fall into, so can you just talk a little bit about what it means to put your clients first and how that’s different from client-centered, but can you do that right after this break?
Jack Newton: Absolutely.
Christopher T. Anderson: Fantastic. So we’re talking to Jack Newton about his book, the CEO and co-founder of Clio about his book, ‘The Client-Centered Law Firm’. We have been talking about what it means to be client-centered, and we’re going to distinguish what that means from client first, but first we’ll hear a word from our sponsors. So it’s sponsors first and then back to Jack.
Advertiser: LAWCLERK is where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Whether you need a research memo or a complicated appellate brief, our network of freelance lawyers have every level of experience and expertise. Sign up is free and there are no monthly fees. Only pay the flat fee price you set. Use rebate code UNBILLABLE to get a $100 Amazon gift card when you complete your next project. Learn more at lawclerk.legal.
Advertiser: If you are missing calls, appointments and potential clients, it’s time to work with Nexa Professional. More than just an answering service, Nexa’s virtual receptionists are available 24×7 to schedule appointments, qualify leads, respond to emails, integrate with your firm’s software, and much more. Nexa ensures your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call at 800-267-9371 or visit them at nexa.com/podcast for a special offer.
Christopher T. Anderson: And we are back with The Un-Billable Hour, talking to Jack Newton, the co-founder of Clio, a CEO of Clio and the author of “The Client-Centered Law Firm”. We are talking about what the difference is between client-centered law firm and putting clients first, and particularly about your chapter in the book, ‘Don’t Put Your Clients First’. I thought we definitely should make this clear about what you meant and what’s the distinction between these two?
Jack Newton: Yeah. So I — I think it’s a — it’s a great question and a great clarifying question, because I think it’s one of the points we do as you pointed out make strenuously in the book which is the concept of becoming a client-centric law firm does not necessarily mean you are always putting your clients first.
And I think the problem with saying something as straightforward sounding is always put your clients first is the implied trade-off is you are putting something else second and that maybe yourself, might be putting your law firm second, might be putting your law firm partners second, your staff, somebody else is suffering if you’re saying the client always comes first.
And that’s not the prevailing wisdom that we’re trying to convey with the client-centered law firm, which is that in many cases if you take a client-centered approach to designing your legal services, in many cases you can actually have a win-win across all of the stakeholders in that interaction with the client, and you’re not sacrificing yourself, you’re not sacrificing your staff and you’re not sacrificing the client, but you’re actually trying to create these win-win scenarios where every party is coming out on top because of the way you’ve designed your law firm and designed the processes around the client.
And I think client first also to me connotes almost a reactive rather than proactive model and I think many lawyers when they think about putting their clients first, it may just be — well be really responsive when the client reaches out to you or always put their needs first, and that’s not necessarily what being a client-centric law firm is about, it’s not being about — it’s not about being reactive, it’s about being proactive and anticipating your clients’ needs and designing your entire law firm’s processes and systems so that you can be highly responsive to your clients without disrupting the services you’re delivering not just to that one client but to the dozens or hundreds of others clients you might be servicing as well.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, in fact, I think that one word that you said there is what I want to kind of expand on a little bit. You said “designing”, because something really just — one of the things that jumped out at me was a comment you made in the book so that you can’t be responsible for your client’s experience. They come to your law firm with all the baggage and all the stuff that’s going in their life and for most lawyers it’s not the best moment in your clients’ lives, unless you are a business lawyer, sometimes it is, but a lot of times it isn’t.
But what you can do is design an experience that they will go through, that is designed to make that process as painless as possible, without taking responsibility for their individual experience.
Jack Newton: I think what a lot of lawyers fail to appreciate is that there’s an enormous amount of context and knowledge that they can help bring to bear to a client’s experience and again that empathy piece, understanding that as a lawyer you often have the benefit of having seen whatever your practice area might be, you’ve seen dozens or hundreds of companies get incorporated.
If your family lawyer maybe you’ve gone through dozens or hundreds of divorces. You have got the pattern recognition to understand what clients are about to go through and help them anticipate not just the thing they’re experiencing this moment, but help them anticipate what’s coming down the pike, maybe some phone calls that they need to be making that are completely unrelated to the legal engagement they have with you, but helping them understand, here’s the two or three things that are going to happen next that I can help you anticipate.
And it’s that partnership model I think of viewing as you pointed out many lawyers are dealing with clients that are in some form of crisis whether that’s personal or business, and if it’s not a form of crisis, it’s almost always a high-stakes situation, just by virtue of having a lawyer involved, there’s a certain amount of importance that and weight that goes along with that interaction that your client is having with you.
And if lawyers really spend the time to look at their client as they’re coming in through the door with whatever their specific situation might be and try to understand how can I be a partner to this client, how can I bring the experience that I have to bear on this given my collective experience across dozens or hundreds or thousands of cases like this, how can I help my client navigate this next stage of their personal life or their business life more successfully than they would be able to without me? I think it’s just a completely new lens for lawyers to look at their legal transactions in a less transactional way.
And I think even my experience with lawyers is that they do take a very transactional view on their interactions with clients but they leave I think a lot of opportunity to build deeper relationships with their clients and an opportunity to develop more business with their clients if they make that investment in really trying to become a partner to their and helping solve not just the task at hand but the broader challenge that that client is going to be facing over the next set of days, months or years.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and I think that’s funny that you use the word “transactional” here because I’d want to make sure our listeners distinguish, so we’re not talking about lawyers who do business transactions, transactional versus litigation, we’re talking about a concept that’s really running rampant through all the professions, where we all have our particular hammer and we’re all looking for nails and we think our job is to bang the nail, rather than build the house, and we’re not having that deeper relationship with the client, not living up to our title of Counselor At Law, and in that problem we’re not serving the client fully, which also means I think you just set it up, Jack, it’s just we’re also missing as lawyers’ huge amount of opportunity to drive value into that relationship which should result it will result in improved revenues and improved profits for our businesses.
Jack Newton: To this client first versus client-centric perspective this is also a win-win. This isn’t a trade-off where the clients losing out or you’re losing out, this is a win-win where you are understanding your clients’ needs better and better able to service their needs by taking this client-centric approach.
And I think it’s your point on the usage of the word “transactional” is really important because I do think that this is an opportunity for lawyers in almost every practice area to look at their engagements with their clients in a less transactional way and in a way where they can be much more proactive in how they’re engaging in that conversation.
And I’ll just give you a few simple examples from my personal life, I had a will done with my wife around ten years ago, and this is before we had kids, this is before Clio, this is before I moved to Vancouver. So major life events for me happened over the last decade but that wills and estates lawyer that I used over ten years ago to help craft our wills, I haven’t heard a word from him in the last decade whereas if he reached out to me even on an annual basis, even if this was a simple drip marketing campaign run from an email automation package that he could use just ping me and saying, hey, has anything interesting happened in your life in the last year? If so, let’s jump on the phone and figure out how that impacts your will.
Just thinking about your client’s needs in a lifecycle and a lawyer is staying on top of their developments in their clients’ life will just be a better partner to that client, help make sure that they’ve got an up-to-date and accurate will and in the meantime, they’ll do well by their firm and do well by their revenues as a side effect of that.
But really it’s just staying close to your client and staying close to understanding what their needs are. I think many whether it’s business lawyers or consumer-facing lawyers have an opportunity to stay in closer touch with their clients to understand what their needs are, how they’re evolving over time and they will build a mutual sense of trust and understanding that will only be good for both parties.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, I think that’s a fantastic example because yeah, it’s clearly here you’re the poster child for needing to follow up with life circumstances, it might have changed a little bit, yeah, maybe you built the world’s leading case management software for law firms maybe you didn’t but —
Jack Newton: Right, there’s significant business developments, I’ve got three instead of zero kids, I live in a different city so there’s all those implications that again that I think that the approach for many law firms is done and dusted. I’ve shipped the will, the work product is done, let’s file this away in a folder somewhere and it’s forgotten.
The idea that you would follow up with your clients and even stay in touch with them with some kind of systematized system to reach out to them every six months or 12 months, a simple phone call can I drop by the office and find out what’s going on with the company.
I think it’s those kinds of lightweight interactions that can be a very minor investment on the law firms’ part with a huge amount of leverage a huge amount of upside with that that very reasonable investment.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, so it all makes visceral sense like having this client-centered concept building this experience, making the law firm more adaptable and more able to move into the future, it makes a lot of visceral sense. Do you have in preparing for the book or in you’re thinking around this have you seen evidence in other industries or other professions that this is really the way to go?
Jack Newton: Well, really at the heart of my thinking on this concept of the client-centric law firm was what some of the shifts I saw in other industries that I think are great leading indicators for us of how consumer expectations are shifting. And one of the concepts I talked about in the book and one of the concepts I talked about in my last Clio Con keynote is this idea of the consumerization of legal services.
And I think when we look at examples like Netflix, like Uber, like Airbnb, consumers are getting used to all of their experiences becoming more simplified and more streamlined and more effortless. And “effortless” is a word that I use really deliberately because I think it encapsulates a lot of concepts in a really concise way.
And the idea is that consumers, especially Millennials, who are rapidly becoming the largest purchasing generation on the planet, their expectations of interacting with every service provider that they work with is shifting radically.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.
Jack Newton: All the way from cable cutting to adopting services like Netflix obviously we’re seeing the shift away from taxis to car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, vacation rentals which used to be a lot of filling out forms and faxing paperwork are now a couple of taps away with services like Airbnb.
So this consumerization of legal services is all of those consumer expectations around effortless experiences coming to bear in the legal services market. And guess what, when your website — if you have a website, when your website says as its main call to action, call me at 1-800-whatever, know that for the Millennial generation you are basically putting up a huge Stop sign on your website.
The idea of using their phone as a phone is an 00:26:05 to this generation, right? They want what they expect from a lawyer that gets them and knows how to work with them is a chatbot that is going to be able to do intake with them and hopefully that leads to probably a video call on their smartphone.
We believe that the future of legal service delivery will be over the cloud. We believe that more-and-more consumers are going to want to have their legal interactions mediated through their smartphone rather than in some expensive AAA downtown office space in their lawyer’s office.
We believe clients in the future are going to want to text message their lawyer more than they’re going to want to again visit them in person in their law office and this is not a huge leap of faith in my mind. The kinds of positions that I take in this book and that I take in my general thinking about how legal services are going to evolve, I think might seem revolutionary to some that are maybe just inward-focused right now on the current state of the legal industry.
But if you even spend any time at all looking outward in other industries and the kind of transformations they’ve gone through over the last decade and what separates the winners from losers in those industries in terms of who’s adapted to these changes and who hasn’t. To me, the writing is very clearly on the wall for the legal industry.
And to your earlier point around the messaging in the book it is a rallying cry to the industry as a whole saying there’s still time for the lawyers that dial into this sea change that’s underway and adapt to the legal marketplace that is shifting under their feet.
There is not just room to survive but room to thrive, but for the rest of that think that they can continue practicing in this new decade the way that they were in the 2010s they’re going to be in for a rude awakening and I do think that there’s —
Christopher T. Anderson: They need to go check out blockbuster, right?
Jack Newton: Yeah, exactly, there’s instructive examples and carcasses of companies and individuals that have not been able to figure this transition out in many other industries and I think that it’s an enormous opportunity for firms that want to embrace change and get ahead of the curve, but it’s also an existential risk for the companies that don’t adapt.
Christopher T. Anderson: Indeed, alright, we are talking with Jack Newton, he’s a CEO of Clio and we’ve been discussing the wisdom and the proof and the evidence that really focusing or becoming a more client-centered law firm is the path — or it’s actually the fork in the road that decision to become one or not is the decision to be able to move your firm into the future or to become a relic.
When we come back from this break, Jack, I’m going to ask you to — you mentioned earlier five core values of the clients here at the law firm, I’d like to detail those and kind of review what each one is quickly for the listeners, but before that, let’s hear a quick word from our sponsors.
Advertiser: Feel like your marketing efforts aren’t getting you the high value cases your firm deserves? For over 15 years Scorpion has helped thousands of law firms, just like yours, attract new cases and grow their practices. As a Google Premier Partner and winner of Google’s Platform Innovator Award, Scorpion has the right resources and technology to aggressively market your law firm and generate better cases from the Internet. For more information, visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast today.
Advertiser: Ready to create and build your own solo or small firm practice? Need a nuts and bolts education on the 360 degree experience of starting a business? There is only one online destination dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. Solo Practice University, the only online educational and professional networking community dedicated to lawyers and law students who want to go into practice for themselves. More than a 1,000 classes, 58 faculty and mentors, what are you waiting for? Check out solopracticeuniversity.com today.
Christopher T. Anderson: And welcome back to The Un-Billable Hour. We are talking with Jack Newton and we are now going to move on a little bit from the sort of big picture of what it means to be a client centered law firm and why that’s really important to discussing five core values that a client centered law firm should have, and I guess this can serve both as a analysis of where one is with their law firm and where one needs to be.
So Jack, would you mind talking about what those five core values are?
Jack Newton: Absolutely. So the five core values of a client centric law firm are number one, developing deep client empathy. That really is centered on the idea that you need to truly put yourself in the shoes of your client and try to understand their emotional context, to understand the other challenges they might be dealing with and understand with the benefit of your experience and seeing the kinds of challenges that your client will be facing in other similar scenarios how you can help them navigate the challenges that are ahead of them.
And I think this concept of empathy is probably one of the most powerful and underutilized skill sets that a lawyer can deploy in redesigning their firm to be more client centric.
The second core value is —
Christopher T. Anderson: Before we move on to the second one, I mean to me that comes from what we were talking about earlier the difference between being transactional and having a more holistic approach to your client’s life and business, that I think the empathy both probably drives that and comes from that in a very virtuous cycle.
Jack Newton: Yeah. And I think it runs counter to maybe many lawyers’ concepts of what this idealized notion of a lawyer should be, which I think is often something that is framed as you are somewhat cold and removed from the client and there is this almost removed approach to engaging with your client.
And this isn’t necessarily about being more emotional and it’s crucial not to confuse empathy with sympathy. This is really when we are talking about design and something I haven’t had time to really go in depth on is this idea of design thinking and doing a journey map of what your client is going through.
But just to outline that concept very briefly, which I do go in more depth in the book, this concept of customer journey mapping or client journey mapping is really trying to unpack what are these series of events that has brought this client to your door, what is the broader context that they are dealing with that you should be aware of to help better deliver the legal services they need today.
And then importantly, what are the next steps on this journey and the steps that lead to the client succeeding or winning or achieving their goal that you can help them down that path and how can you anticipate those needs going forward.
And it is really this concept of empathy of — the Greek origin of the word is around the concept of being able to place yourself in someone else’s mind, of being able to see through their eyes. It’s truly going through that exercise and trying to put yourself in your clients’ shoes and understand the challenges they are facing and how you can best help them navigate what lies ahead.
And if there is one concept that readers come away with the book with a better appreciation of that I would be happy with as a win, it’s that concept of empathy and that being a really powerful tool for lawyers to deploy that I think is one of the least exercised aspects of a lawyer’s tool kit in most law offices today.
Christopher T. Anderson: Sure, with that thought now around developing deep client empathy, which is the first of the five values, I think that probably dovetails really well with the second one. Could you explain that one?
Jack Newton: The second core value is practicing attentiveness, and we use the word attentiveness rather than responsiveness because it’s not necessarily always being responsive and again kind of reactive to your clients, but being attentive to what point they are on this client journey, understanding when and where you should be interjecting yourself into their experience and offering your assistance.
It’s about being present of course when your client is speaking to you and talking to you, so this concept of attentiveness I think is a really important value of a client-centered law firm.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and of course being attentive to where they are in the journey helps you with that empathy and the empathy I think helps with that attentiveness and to developing and designing, as you were saying, across the board, once you become familiar with one and then 10 and then 100 clients’ journeys, what they are going to be experiencing at what points and designing the experience to meet them where they are.
So the third core value that you have talked about in the book is called generating ease with communication. What’s meant by that?
Jack Newton: This is really about trying to think carefully about how you are communicating with your clients and optimizing your communication channels and communication style to what the clients’ expectations might be.
So again, one of the really interesting findings we had from the Legal Trends Report, both this year and last year, which I know you are familiar with Christopher, but if your audience isn’t, Google Legal Trends Report, it’s a free publication available that Clio publishes on an annual basis. And one of the things we found over the last two years of our Legal Trends Report is this huge chasm between how lawyers think that their clients want to communicate with them and how their clients actually want to communicate with them.
So to give you a few concrete examples, in going through a legal document with a client and going through the details for example of their case, lawyers tend to think that a phone call might be an acceptable way to go through that part of a case with a client, and many clients tell us in this survey that they want that to be an in-person interaction, they want to sit down and really work through the document or work through the details of their case in person with their lawyer.
So some of this generating ease with the communication could be as simple as asking clients how do you want to communicate with me. You might have some clients tell you that they want to be able to text message you, which I think is something we see increasingly with clients and their lawyers.
Again, depending on the demographic of clients you are dealing with, they might prefer phone call. So just understanding how can you communicate more effectively with your clients.
And also something, this one of the places technology can play a huge hand is how can you communicate passively with your clients without it necessarily needing to be something active, like a phone call or an in-person meeting where you might have a communications portal. There is tools like Case Status, for example, that will automatically notify your clients when certain key events happen on their case.
Something I think that’s important to note is many clients, and one of the common complaints that law societies and bar associations receive relating to lawyers is that they feel their lawyers haven’t been communicating with them enough over the course of their case.
And in some cases what I think runs counter to many lawyers’ default sense of logic on this is sometimes clients want an update, even just to know that there is no update, there has been no development in their case. They haven’t heard back from the court, whatever the case might be. So being proactive about that and setting automatic reminders or having automated systems or have client portals where your clients can log in and check on the status of their case whenever they want to. There is a lot of different ways to improve communications with clients without increasing the amount of time you are spending doing it or without hiring staff to do it.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. I mean we have a generation that’s used to, when you want to know your bank balance, when you want to know if your flight is on time, when you want to know your lab results from your latest medical, you get that information when you want it, on demand.
Jack Newton: Exactly, exactly, and that is part of the seismic shift in consumer expectations that law firms that anticipate that and skate to where the puck is going in terms of being able to deliver legal services in that kind of a way are going to be the ones that win over the next decade.
Christopher T. Anderson: Leave it to the Canadian to introduce the hockey reference, very good.
So those were the first three, develop client empathy one; two, practice attentiveness; three, generate ease with communication, and then the fourth one kind of sounds like it has something to do with the communication, but probably it goes a bit deeper.
Jack Newton: Yeah, so the fourth is demand effortless experiences and this concept of effortless experiences really ties back to that concept of the consumerization of legal services I was referring to earlier.
And just look at every touch point that you have with both a prospective client as well as an existing client and think about how can I make their experience as effortless as possible.
Notify me when there’s a new episode!
|Published:||January 15, 2020|
|Podcast:||The Un-Billable Hour|
The Un-Billable Hour
Best practices regarding your marketing, time management, and all the things outside of your client responsibilities.