The rise of the interactive client portal in the legal sector has been nothing short of meteoric. Over the past ten years, law firms large and small have made the investment into portals to better serve their clients. But what does the future hold?
Benefits of client portals
Like other emerging and disruptive technologies, client portal software is a valuable (and essential) tool for law firms in creating a good impression with clients. They provide several benefits for both sides.
- Better Collaboration: Legal professionals and clients can act as one team by sharing files. Lawyers can upload documents and post progress reports. Clients can drop into the portal whenever they like to check on projects, notes from lawyers, download documents, or pose questions.
- Improved Organisation: Siloes are reduced with client portals. Communication and documentation surrounding a client is in one place. Any individual from the law firm or the client can access the information at any time, knowing that all the information they need will be right there.
- Faster Communication: Communication is simpler and faster. Portals provide lawyers and clients the ability to connect, wherever they are. No longer does each party need to send emails and wait for a reply before commencing the next phase. Through instant messaging, client call back requests, or push notifications to mobile devices, communication is improved no end.
- Audit Friendly: Nowadays, any organisation in any sector is liable to receive disputes, negligence claims, or be accused of not delivering against statements of work, project plans, or promised deliverables. A client portal becomes crucial evidence in such circumstances, as it holds all communication, all documents, and everything regarding work with and for a client.
Building trust in the legal sector
Today, people are more aware than ever of the influence of technology in their lives. More so the potential for personal data misuse, and corporate mistakes in relation to data being stolen.
Knowledge of personal data ownership and organisations’ responsibility has become more widespread since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The main purpose of a law firm’s client portal is to securely share information between parties, both internally and externally.
Sharing multiple documents, comments, and information between lawyers and clients must be simple, as efficient as possible, and totally secure. Given the nature and sensitivity of the industry, client portals, whether proprietary or off-the-shelf, have been built with security top of mind.
Given the lack of societal trust, as observed by Edleman, Law firms must focus on building trust throughout the customer journey.
Trust is also built on competence and ethics. Consumers expect greater transparency and assurances that organisations will deal responsibly with ethical decisions, such as usage of personal consumer data. Plus, in this social media connected world they won’t hesitate in publicly calling out brands.
For any new client coming on-board, it's imperative that the security of your law firm’s client portal, and the safety of your client’s data is communicated from the outset to gain trust.
Retaining clients is no longer just about how good a job you do. You need to show and prove to your clients that their data is secure, that you care about it and that you care about them.
The future of the client portal
Client portals allow lawyers and clients a collaboration space. Many law firms are also providing client dashboards, where clients can quickly assess overall progress, identify issues, and track performance, such as time-to-task-completion and budget-to-actual-spend. This technology has revolutionised communication between law firms and clients But what does the future hold?
Automation, and soon, hyperautomation, will have a pivotal role to play in the future of the legal sector. However, we believe law firm client portals will need to become more integrated with other systems first, to give organisations a complete 360-degree view of clients.
Integration with a Practice Management Software
Many law firms have case management systems or practice management software already in place. Some of these technologies already come with built-in client portals, or offer portal upgrades, but many don't. Many law firms have case management systems or practice management software already in place. Some of these technologies already come with built-in client portals, or offer portal upgrades, but many don't.
Integration with a Document Management System
Where do clients go when they’re interested in discovering research and relevant articles on a certain legal topic? Your website? Ask one of your lawyers directly? Someone else’s website? Why drive clients away from your brand experience? How about if they were able to surface relevant documents, and get in touch with your subject-matter experts, without leaving the client portal?
Integrating your portal with your document management system, allows retrieval of client-facing content and documentation within the portal itself. This would improve the customer experience.
Integration with a Digital Experience Platform
Imagine one of your lawyers being notified that a website visitor had downloaded the ‘Guide to Helping Brands Get Back to Business after Coronavirus’ from your website. In a disconnected system, getting back to those four people may take a while by the time the information gets to the right person.
Now imagine a scenario where that happened automatically, in real time, where your website and your client portal are integrated. The moment the visitor viewed the guide on your website an action (or actions) in the system is triggered. For example, a ‘thank you’ email is sent after the download. Relevant articles and related guides are posted into the corporate client’s dashboard area on the client portal. Personalised content is shown to the visitor. This is happening right now in other industries. We believe this is the future for the legal sector.
Working with Codehouse
Investment in the right technology can help your law firm respond to client needs and wants. It can improve operational efficiency. And it can help beat competitors.
Client portals can significantly increase the level of customer trust and satisfaction. The services can improve significantly through integration with the systems that matter. Systems that when integrated will transform your brand’s digital experience to something never seen in the legal sector.
With a knowledge base of over fifteen years in technology, integrating websites and external systems to enable organisations to drive improved digital experiences for their customers, gather data for a more complete customer-view, and increase their ability to deliver more revenue.
If your law firm would like to discuss the creation of a new Digital Experience Platform, or anything else for that matter just get in touch when you're ready to talk about your project.
Client Portals: What they mean for the legal sector is part our series of articles dedicated to the legal profession: