Technology continues to flourish in the legal community as online marketplaces provide impressive transparent legal support services to law firms. There are service providers such as process servers, stenographers, virtual receptionists, interpreters, document creators, and more that are all valuable for the discovery process in litigation, and all those services are now easily accessible through direct marketplace technology.
With newfound marketplaces, the legal industry is hesitant to accept these access-to-justice advances. Why the hesitancy?
Marketplaces are the ultimate way for legal support services to improve systems with unique and time-saving features. Online platforms bring transparency to law firms, providing a means to compare and make the best selection of services that are easily outsourced. One of the most frustrating factors for any industry is not knowing charges, experience level, actual availability, or certification levels at the time of hiring professional services. By taking advantage of market listings online, oligopolies are essentially eliminated with the vast access to marketplace services. A marketplace option is an incredible tool that exposes not only costs but also can expose experience and professionalism with ratings by peers. These features save time without having to follow up with phone calls and emails regarding references. The information is comparable by multiple service providers and is already available for your review by trusted peers.
For a legal proceeding in need of support, litigation clients benefit as well, as law firms can be thorough in selecting professional services through unique marketplace platforms. A basic list of benefits with direct access to services includes:
- Cost-saving benefits
- Direct communication with professionals
- Upfront pricing
- Selection of specific services needed
- Vetting of service providers
- Reviews of professional services by peers
- The ability to compare services and prices
So, with the many benefits legal technology marketplaces bring, why are law firms slow to jump on the opportunities afforded to them with easily accessible professional service providers?
Among the pushbacks are security, the learning process, established relationships with third-party vendors to locate services, and billable hours. But all of these concerns can be addressed.
- With safeguards in place and correct Internet security usage, the protection of online accounts can be addressed quickly.
- The learning process turns into efficiency almost immediately, and the time invested in utilizing marketplaces is extremely valuable long term.
- Relationships with third-party vendors are a feel-good factor, but not in the best interest of the client, the law firm, or the service provider. A third party typically charges the law firm for the service of locating professionals as well as charges the service provider to be listed with the third-party vendor. It’s a known fact that many third-party vendors reach out to the exact online marketplaces where the legal support service providers could be found by the law firms directly. Meaning, at the end of the day, the real winner in this scenario is the third-party vendor and not the law firm, the law firm client, or the legal support service provider.
- The pushback of billable hours is squashed as savvy law firms understand that prioritizing clients’ best interest is a must for growth. In addition, with the time-saving benefits of direct marketplace usage, the time gained can be used for more important tasks such as case discovery and trial preparation.
Law firms require many different tools to complete tasks for litigation cases and the Internet gives access to those tools. Now, more than ever, clients involved in litigation need lawyers to monitor expenditures while still getting top-notch legal support services. Marketplaces are that tool that law firms can take advantage of, ensuring clients that their lawyer has their best interest at the forefront.
COVID-19 saw the prompt demand for law firms to pivot with everything, from online depositions to videoconference meetings to keeping trial preparation in motion. The pivot opened the eyes of many law firms to see those online services as beneficial when they were forced to activate a backlog of caseloads after in-person shutdowns.
Marketplaces are here to stay. Online services are here to stay. Online marketplace professional services are currently used most by savvy, client-centered law firms as they focus on getting the best support services at the best price. It’s only a matter of time before all law firms fully embrace the online marketplace opportunities. When they do, lawyers will wonder why the online platform usage was not put in place sooner.
The legal community continues to work through emergency orders that are extending court deadlines, the backlog continues to grow with the current caseloads and the addition of new court filings.
We all need to prepare for the influx of necessary professional services that are growing as social distancing requirements are lifted, which we’re seeing already. There is no better way than to use the tremendous benefits that marketplaces offer for direct access to service providers. Legal service access through marketplaces really is a wonderful thing, and when it improves litigants’ lives, the results law firms experience are extremely rewarding.
About the Author
Karen Renee is the CEO of eCourt Reporters, Inc., a marketplace for law firms to schedule legal services directly. Karen graduated 2008 cum laude from Alfred State College, NY, and was awarded Legal Innovator of the Year from the State Bar of Wisconsin and Innovation Use of Technology from the National Court Reporters Association in 2018.