Last week, I wrote about our survey on mobile apps, specifically about ID theft protection and legal services. As I summarized, our survey shows an incredible opportunity for attorneys willing to use technology to meet clients on mobile. With interest in legal services apps at 73% of Millennials and 76% of those with children at home, lawyers must provide this mobile option to best serve clients.
When I presented at the ABA TECHSHOW in March, every lawyer in the room had a smartphone. Yet, lawyers still seem reluctant to embrace mobile or even the cloud according to the past two annual ABA Legal Technology Survey Reports. Even though the most recent report on cloud computing told of cloud usage that grew to more than 40% over 2016, from 37% to just over half (52%), that still means one in two lawyers are not in the cloud. It seems odd that every lawyer I have ever met appears to own a smartphone with apps but will not use the cloud or mobile to practice.
Perhaps the Survey respondents’ “…continuing misunderstanding about what cloud services are” is still skewing the results in 2017, as discussed in 2016 by Bob Ambrogi. Regardless, solos and small firms continue to lead the way with innovation. Most major practice management systems now offer mobile applications and our LegalShield plan has had a mobile app for four years to connect members with attorneys.
As our Chief Legal Officer, Keri Norris, outlined in her presentation, in order to serve the Millennial and GenX population, we must act like business people and bring legal services wherever the client needs. Clients work and have obligations that prevent a traditional work-day visit to a lawyer’s office. The mobile app can be an excellent tool for providing legal information. For example, we have a chatbot named Erin that is accessible on our website, our app, and even by using your Alexa or Google Home. Erin can answer basic questions which can help people understand their legal needs.
Part of the access to justice challenge is that consumers do not obtain effective assistance, either because of insufficient financial resources or a lack of knowledge about when legal problems exist that require resolution through legal representation. That knowledge gap can be addressed by access to information. We need to share basic information to educate our clients for free. Hoarding that knowledge will not advance your practice as many apps, including ours, give away free information or answers to common legal questions plus forms. Mobile apps allow lawyers to be accessible to their clients. Successful businesses are built around satisfying client needs and the law should be no different.
With almost three in four Millennials stating that they would use a legal services application, there is an opportunity to put people in control of their lives with a mobile app that allows for access on demand. Attorneys that insist on in-person meetings and will not provide either free consultation or answer questions will struggle as more legal apps come online. We view our mobile app as empowering our members to have a law firm in the palm of their hand or using their smartphone as a remote control for their life. As I discussed last time, we all use our devices for shopping, news, finance and more. Legal services need to be the same as other services.
A final note on earning the public’s trust and confidence. As Keri said to the TECHSHOW attorneys, “Lawyers must be regular people. The complexity of the justice system and the public’s lack of understanding about how it functions undermines the public’s trust and confidence.” Providing simple access to legal services using the now familiar mobile app will go a long way to making the law available to all. If you are interested in learning more about LegalShield’s mobile app, our Elevate conference, or our referral network, reach out to me on Twitter @Gundog8 or apply here to join.