As originally published in Legal Marketing Association, August 26, 2020
The Client Experience of the Future
with Heinan Landa | Optimal Networks, Inc.
The success of the modern law firm hinges on its ability to adapt and pivot. Even before being struck by a global health crisis, the profession has been experiencing significant disruption due to rapid changes in technology that reshaped client expectations. Today, the combination of these two factors results in an urgent need for law firms to embrace change like never before.
So, what will the law firm of the future look like? What can firms do now to succeed amid the chaos and how can they prepare themselves for future disruptions, challenges and pressures? In order to answer these questions, we must direct our focus to the client experience. I spoke with Heinan Landa, founder and CEO of Optimal Networks and author of “The Modern Law Firm: How to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Technological Change,” to get his perspective on how law firms can embrace and deliver on a client-focused strategy. Here he shares his ideas and expertise based on three decades of providing IT services to law firms.
How has the legal landscape been evolving over the last 10 years?
There’s no doubt the legal landscape has transformed dramatically with innovative new models for delivering legal services. The internet has single handedly upended the buyer’s journey. Gone are the days when businesses and individuals would select their preferred representation based solely on the recommendation of a friend or colleague. The way law firms present themselves online has a direct impact on a firm’s reputation and will actively win or cost the firm new business.
The means we provide services has also shifted. Customer satisfaction is now prioritized, as even the slightest hiccup can send a client to any of the dozens of competitors that can be easily identified within seconds on a smartphone. In order to thrive in the ever-changing legal landscape, law firms cannot afford to lag behind the times as they have historically done. They must embrace change and invest heavily in new technology and innovative business development initiatives.
Take document collaboration, for example. This can easily devolve into a convoluted back-and-forth process that consumes loads of time and energy. In the past, we’ve seen teams trying to juggle multiple copies of the same file over splintered email chains, editing one by one and causing confusion and headaches for all involved. The modern law firm implements innovative tools to collaborate and coauthor documents in real time (or even screen share in a video conference) to ensure everyone is quite literally on the same page — including the client. Offering a portal where clients can access all their files and documents in one place whenever they need is yet another way to prioritize customer satisfaction. This is what embracing change looks like.
How has the pandemic expedited the law firm of the future?
It should come as no surprise that this pandemic has disrupted the workplace environment as we know it. Businesses and law firms alike have had to make a rapid shift to working remotely, as well as placing a new focus on utilizing technology to keep us efficient and, above all, connected.
The legal industry is not typically known for its technological agility, and the current world health crisis has underscored the risks of this stance in a big way. I recently spoke to a client of mine who — unlike many of his competitors — embraced cloud computing and remote work years ago. Their shift to working from home was completely seamless, and they didn’t miss a beat when it came to serving their clients. Meanwhile, other firms he knows went dark for days, even weeks, before they got their technology figured out. Can you imagine how their clients felt about that? How it impacted their revenue?
In order to stay afloat — and more importantly, continue to see success — it is of the utmost importance that firms reconsider the prevailing notion that IT is merely a cost center.
The law firm of the future leverages technology that eliminates barriers to being responsive and productive, maximizes internal efficiencies that drive client satisfaction, and weathers unforeseen challenges with relative ease from an operational perspective.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that those with the ability to adapt and accept change are the ones who will continue to see success far into the future. More than that, those who can use this ability as a strength will be the ones at the forefront of the industry.