Not all heroes wear capes, right lawyers? For centuries, you’ve reliably answered client calls for rescue and steered companies safely out of mysterious and murky legal waters again and again.
Unfortunately, this “hero” dynamic created a vast gulf between law firms and their clients. On one side of the chasm, a company’s strategic and daily operations unfold autonomously. On the other, lawyers work in an isolated “legal bubble”.
The year 2020 revealed just how much clients want lawyers to work alongside them as proactive legal collaborators rather than showing up after things go awry. As we explore why it’s time for your law firm to burst out of the legal bubble, you’ll also discover how doing so will boost your client satisfaction rates.
Clients expect law firms to deliver more than legal subject matter expertise.
Law firms typically earn notoriously low Net Promoter® Scores, a popular client satisfaction and service quality metric. (Check out 2021 Legal Industry NPS® Benchmarks for a detailed explanation of legal client satisfaction rates.)
Remarkably, the NPS score from legal clients jumped from 26% in 2020 to 42% in 2021, exceeding the previous high of 32% in 2015. The article attributes the increase to how appreciative clients were for the support they received from firms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seek purposeful alignment with law firm clients.
Throughout 2020, law firms actively sought to connect with and listen to clients, and lawyers provided crisis advice as clients’ priorities shifted unpredictably. The higher NPS rating is a clear indication of the appreciation clients feel for proactive connection from legal strategists—lawyers who understand their goals and risk tolerance and can help them avoid the need for legal rescue later.
Knowing how and when your law firm should be proactive requires purposeful alignment. Global concerns such as sustainability, working standards and conditions, diversity and equity drive companies to seek purposeful alignment with business partners. Law firms can also seek to align their needs with client needs and develop mutually beneficial relationships with the same purpose.
Purposefully prioritize your client’s best interests.
When you prioritize a client’s best interests, you can also meet parallel needs. For example, in one 2021 survey, 89% of legal departments identify controlling outside counsel costs as a high priority—which is what most law firm clients say in nearly every survey on the topic.
Most law firms understand the imperative to deliver more cost-effective legal services. In fact, a recent Thompson Reuters Report shows that cost control is also among the top three steps law firm leaders plan to take to improve their firm’s performance:
- 94% plan to increase the use of technology to cut costs.
- 90% plan to improve the firm’s ability to budget and manage matter costs
- 88% plan to increase their ability to cross-sell within the firm
The real issue is finding out how to implement an appropriate cost reduction strategy while increasing opportunities to cross-sell to have a positive impact on the firm’s bottom line. It’s no accident that 80% of the same law firm business leaders surveyed above say the use of advanced technology provides a critical competitive advantage.
Take action with law firm financial analytics and BI technology.
Law firm financial analytics and BI software, i.e., “business of law” technology, creates the necessary foundational capabilities for your firm to prioritize client needs while focusing on data, measurement, and continuous improvement. Technology enables your firm to:
Cut unnecessary costs. Expedite daily workflows such as prebill review and approval. Automate manual activities like time entry and report generation and routing. Identify underperformers, redundant work efforts, and hidden costs.
Integrate and connect. Enterprise-wide digitalization integrates practice groups, giving clients access to one seamless law firm. Data gets where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
Track and measure. Determine which activities and decisions create value and which don’t. Here are just a few of many ways you can use analytics to prioritize your clients’ needs:
- Track activities and automate notifications to signal needed action and ensure timely communications.
- Explore alternate staffing and resourcing models for matters.
- Leverage historical matter information to price new matters and model various pricing scenarios including hourly, fixed fees, blended rates and more.
- Enable regular reviews of budgets, with comparisons to actual spending on matters.
With the insights you gain from tactics like these, your firm can bill based on value rather than by the hour to provide the cost-effective legal services that clients want while still protecting firm profitability.
Support for law firm change management
Setting aside a superhero status can be challenging. But fantastic awards await you! Profitable business clients have already moved forward to embrace digital transformation. They only want to work with law firms that can help them lead the way.
Burst the legal bubble now. Law firms that don’t will soon find the gulf has expanded so far that they can no longer leap across. To see how our products can help you build the technological foundation that will enable you to improve your firm’s performance and create value for clients, schedule a demo with us here.