My challenge to Legal Tech: Give me these efficiency tools!

My challenge to Legal Tech: Give me these efficiency tools!

Discussions about Legal Tech have been focusing on whether technology will replace lawyers, and when this will happen. Much more interesting in my view is the question how Legal Tech can help me and other lawyers help our clients in a better way. So here is my challenge to Legal Tech to give us efficiency tools for lawyers in order to improve client services at lower costs (and a healthy profit):

  1. Give me good pricing tools that help me predict costs for legal matters. Put lots of data into them so that both my clients and me can have confidence. I am very curious about the Virtual Pricing Director launched this month by Neota Logic and pricing consultants Validatum and Burcher Jennings,
  2. I would like my definitions “to go”: Help me access all defined terms from anywhere in a document without having to backtrack to the first pages. I stole this idea from Feargus MacDaeid and Nnamdi Emelifeonwu at Freshfields who created the software plug-in Define. Before I read that article, I had no idea that I needed this plug-in. Now I want it and every other lawyer interested in efficiency should want it, too.
  3. Give me Legal Project Management tools with good collaboration functions: I want (1) project sites with all project-relevant information in one place (no more e-mail avalanches, please), (2) the possibility to co-work on documents simultaneously, (3) easy-to-use communication channels to my project teams incl. written, audio and video, (4) multi-project dashboard and calendar functions and (5) a Kanban tool for visual planning. For the Kanban tool, I want to have the choice between list view, card view and Gantt view at my fingertips (look at smartsheet.com for inspiration). Oh, and of course I expect these tools to integrate with my existing software. I don´t want to have to change my firm´s entire software systems in order to use Legal Project Management tools.
  4. Give me a tool for client-lawyer evaluation conversations that people want to use.

Item no. 4 will be my challenge for next week´s Legal Design event in Frankfurt, which I am very exited about. It has always puzzled me why so few lawyers ask their clients for their opinion on their legal services. Inside Counsel magazine published a series of surveys comparing ratings of satisfaction from clients and the law firms who serve them. In one such survey, 43% of lawyers thought they were earning the top grad A for their work, but only 17% of their clients agreed. This should be a shocking result to lawyers. After all, servicing clients without asking them for feedback on your work is like learning to swim by standing next to the pool on dry land. In order to find out whether you sink or swim, you have to ask the water. And if you want to find out how fast, how long or how elegant you can swim, you have to ask the water over and over again.

I fully understand the challenge that asking your clients to evaluate your work poses. I talk about this challenge often with my coaching clients and I feel it in my stomach every time I get evaluated (David Rock, researcher in Neuroleadership, recently wrote “Typical feedback conversations are about as pleasant as a root canal.”). So I want tools that make the evaluation experience less unpleasant and more productive and enjoyable for both clients and lawyers. Let´s see what we can come up with together in Frankfurt!

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Marion Ehmann is a lawyer as well as the founder and owner of kiMEru Coaching & Consulting AB. She uses up-to-date research and best practice plus her almost 20 years of experience in the legal profession to support lawyers in their professional development.