We don’t need statistics to know it’s true. We’ve heard it since we graduated from law school. The number one complaint by clients is the failure to return phone calls and lack of information from their lawyer. When clients don’t know what’s going on, they rightfully get pissed off. What needs to be a relationship of trust becomes a relationship of mistrust.
In four plus years, we have never had a client indicate that they didn’t know what was happening in their case. Because we use a secure and encrypted extranet system as our case management tool and let clients into that system, clients can see exactly what’s happening on their case each day. They can participate in the internal discussions concerning key issues. Their entire file is available online.
One of the key benefits which technology brings to bear on an attorney-client relationship is streaming and continual information and information access. We represented the largest block of injured passengers in the Crown Prince cruise ship accident case pending in the mass tort court of California. We created a single template of task categories and tasks from client retainer agreement, through medical releases, interview questions and dozens of other issues in our extranet system. We then rolled that template out across all fifty or so clients. Everything was scanned and uploaded into the system. Not only did we have the largest block of clients in the country, we also had the most well-informed clients of any victims of the cruise ship accident. As importantly, our clients did not feel the need to call us (fifty or so clients calling every other day would have essentially shut our law firm down).
We picked up clients from major law firms who fired those firms because they never got to speak to an attorney, only a paralegal, and they had no idea what was going on. Was the notice of claim filed? Was the complaint filed? What was happening in the case? What was going to be happening in the case next? Law firms handling cases in the traditional mode, without taking advantage of the advantages which technology brings to bear, are missing the boat. Technology is not a cost item for a law firm as much as it is the greatest opportunity for a law firm to increase productivity and reduce cost. Training employees to abide by a predefined process on top of that technology is not a hassle as much as it is a chance for everyone to be able to do their jobs easier and better.
As the old guard is replaced by younger more technology able attorneys, firms will be in a better position to incorporate and adapt to technology. For now, many of the lawyers running law firms across the United States just don’t get it.
Is your law firm stepping up to the plate of technology? What needs to happen in our industry before lawyers are viewing technology as the greatest opportunity since the typewriter and dictation machines?