In a fast-evolving world, where advances in technology, world events and developing societal perceptions are all contributing to change, thriving private client law practitioners are realising the importance of using technology to update and optimise client communication methods, explains Craig Matthews of LEAP Legal Software 

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Private client work poses the second highest risk of all legal services, as far as professional indemnity is concerned. Completing this work properly, conscientiously, and comprehensively, using effective, best practice communication methods, is vital. Practitioners are constantly looking at how best to communicate with clients directly and advise clients in terms of communicating with their families. 

The risks are so great and the work so important that time is needed to consider each client estate and prioritise services to fulfil clients’ needs properly. A personal service provided is key and the documents produced are some of the most important documents your clients will ever own. It is their legacy, set out in words, printed, and signed under witness. The legislation around the advice given and the data captured is considerable.

Software can help with defining and communicating the best product offering and, at the same time, add efficiencies to processes to ensure this work remains profitable and is not a loss leader. It is important to mention that a technology optimised client communication strategy should always be focused on enhancing the value of the service provided. It should not be focused on keeping costs low to win business and then upsell additional services. The Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme  specifically prohibits this practice. It does not need to replace traditional methods entirely but should optimise your ability to communicate with your clients in the most appropriate way for them. 

Embracing the right technology can enhance communication and transform the productivity and efficiency of a department without detracting from the critical work performed by the solicitor. Clients of private practice lawyers require high levels of service and the guarantees associated with a reputable law firm. 

One of the gaps that technology can fill is to assist with communication, both with testators drafting the documents and with the executors or beneficiaries dealing in the administration of an estate. A paper-based approach can be backed by a digital approach and vice versa, providing the client with the ability to choose which works best for them.  

Providing client access to a client portal with the ability to review draft documents, to annotate, to ask questions and to send messages, is no different to the service that conveyancing clients have come to expect. The client portal becomes a method for ongoing communication where clients can access their documents and review their wills at any time. A personal asset register provided when, for example, a will is drafted and updated from time to time can simplify estate discovery and help build client relationships.  

An assumption that clients don’t want a digital first or digitally backed service should be re-evaluated. Increased adoption of technology amongst Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1980) continues to rise. Certainly, the following generations, millennials or Gen Y (born between 1981 and 2000) will all expect to use technology to facilitate communication and data exchange. Their communication with their solicitors will not be an exception.   

Key to optimising communication in private client practice is a flexible approach to embracing both traditional and digital methods of communication and being able to combine and integrate these methods to meet the needs of individual clients and estates.

Private client software white paper

With an increased uptake in technology for lawyers who offer lifetime planning, traditional approaches may no longer meet the evolving needs of your clients. Download this informative white paper to find out more.

LEAP are a strategic partner of the Law Society. Find out more about their legal practice productivity solution.