Meet Your Client on Their Terms, Part I

This year, we presented at ABA TECHSHOW on the theme of access to justice and how technology can help attorneys reach more clients. My colleague and LegalShield’s Chief Legal Officer, Keri C. Norris, emphasized that lawyers must be accessible and “meet the client where they are.” I believe that the information in a recent survey could help lawyers better understand where they need to be in order to best meet clients’ needs and expectations. In addition, the results show that the legal industry must continue to educate citizens about legal needs.

First, a bit of background on the survey conducted by ORC International. 2,015 adults participated in the online survey during the week of February 1, 2018. The following five variables were used to weight the interviews to be representative of the total U.S. population: age, sex, geographic region, race, and education. For purposes of the survey, the generations are defined as follows:

  • Millennials: ages 20-37 or born 1981 to 1998
  • GenX: ages 38-53 or born 1999 to 1965
  • Baby Boomers: ages 54-72 or born 1964 to 1946

It’s no surprise that the survey reported almost every American owns a smartphone or a tablet (91%) and that more than half, or 54%, own both. The latter is true of Millennials, Gen X, and households with children (67%) versus without children (47%). Also, social media applications topped the categories as “cannot live without” or essential applications.

What about legal services or legal apps? Overall the survey shows that the majority, or 66%, of smartphone and tablet owners are interested in a mobile app for legal services. Further, 73% of Millennials and 76% of those with children at home are interested in a legal services app. This is good news for attorneys or companies that offer mobile access to legal services. However, it is important to understand the benefits or features of that app that people rated as very or somewhat important include the following:

  • Warranty or insurance claim help
  • Creating a last will and testament
  • Calling a lawyer 24/7 in an emergency

Therefore, the average person is looking for much more than a listing of lawyers; they wish to actually have their problem addressed using the app. Legal issues are no different from other day-to-day problems that we all use technology to solve. This desire mirrors the most popular apps which people currently use as follows:

  • Shopping (72%)
  • News (58%)
  • Financial (42%)
  • Hospitality (23%)
  • Ride Sharing (23%)
  • Air transportation (21%)

A critical takeaway from this survey is that the average person does not use an app for legal or identity theft protection with the same frequency as those listed above. In fact, identity theft is only used by 12% and legal services by 5% of respondents. The reason for this seems to be the low level of awareness of these apps: 58% know of identity theft apps and legal services apps are only known by 46% of those surveyed. That is almost half of the awareness of shopping (94%) and news (91%) apps. It appears we have a long way to go to raise awareness of mobile legal services apps with the average American.

Next time, I will dive a bit deeper into what this interest and lack of awareness means for those attorneys serving Millennials and GenX clients. As always, any lawyers interested in learning more about technology and LegalShield or joining the LegalShield referral network can apply here. I can be reached on Twitter @Gundog8.

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