With so many trends driving innovation in the legal industry, it can be difficult for a law firm to know or decide where to begin their transformation. For instance, do you start with client experience, internal processes, or service delivery? Moreover, what role can technology play? These are all important considerations that can quickly become overwhelming, especially if a law firm is still establishing its ‘niche’ in the market, or conversely, is grounded by years of tradition. Both are scenarios which can make innovation a daunting pursuit, one that can very well ‘make or break’ a firm. Having said that, a commonality among all law firms despite the stage of growth is delivering services to clients. Thus, focusing transformation efforts on the ‘client experience’ and adding value to service delivery is an indiscriminate approach applicable to all law firms.
We recently published an article, ‘CX, Technology and Legal Services’, in which we broadly explored the innovations that are transforming the client journey and enhancing clients’ experience with a firm. In this article, we examine an innovation that is transforming legal services and augmenting the way client services are delivered, a process now commonly known as ‘Productised Legal Services’.
Productised Legal Services as defined by Lucy Dickens, author of ‘Doing Law Differently’, is a legal service that is packaged, priced and delivered like a product. It represents a shift away from traditional fixed business models with billable hours, towards more flexible and scalable service offerings driven by widespread digitisation and growing client expectations. In this way, legal expertise is leveraged to offer standardised services optimised and supported by technology. According to Lucy Dickens, productised legal services have three distinct, and essential elements:
For example, the standardised deliverables of a productised legal service for property conveyancing might be the transference of ownership and relevant documentation. While the outcomes are meeting the client’s expectations and saving them time and resources. The scope is standard and comes pre-prepared.
Given that the scope of the service and outcomes are standardised, you should be able to calculate and determine a standardised cost of delivery. This approach means your legal department can focus on the effectiveness of service delivery, rather than the time it takes for service delivery.
Here is where law firms can distinguish themselves from other law firms by delivering services more efficiently and providing clients with more unique experiences using technology. The systems and processes are what drives service delivery, and the more clear, repeatable, and scalable they are, the more likely the service will be valued by clients.
With that said, traditional productised legal services are sometimes considered to have limitations in their application, in that they are typically only designed for certain types of work or matters (e.g. property conveyancing, wills, etc) and for a certain type of audience (e.g. consumer or SME). However, if the product is designed to incorporate legal advice and expertise alongside automation and fixed fee pricing, the productised legal service can become applicable to corporate and government organisations. A client intake form for a repeatable commercial property agreement is an example. The work can be ‘productised’ as the submission of the form can trigger actions, document automation, and review by the law firm. In the context of a more sophisticated client, the client intake forms would be tailored for that specific clients’ needs, delivered through a standardised system with a standardised pricing agreement.
This type of productised legal services will certainly continue to grow as the demand for technology to improve efficiencies continues. However, we believe the innovators in the legal industry are now looking beyond productising legal services, to legal solutions.
Legal innovator, Helena Lawrence, suggests the future of law will combine a product and service to solve a particular client need and subsequently, law firms will become a solutions provider.
According to Lawrence:
In this context, it can be something such as document or contract automation software, which is sold to many customers ‘out-of-the-box’ in essentially the same format.
In this context, it can be something such as property conveyancing, which provides a bespoke and unique answer to meet an individual client’s specific need.
In this context, it can be something such as taking standardised document or contract automation software and customising it for a particular client to meet their individual needs.
As such, productised legal solutions are a hybrid between products and services that support and facilitate more strategic and scalable delivery of legal advice.
Ms Lawrence encourages law firms to consider if there is a product they can build that opens the door to new clients for strategic legal advice. Further, when looking to build a legal solution, a law firm or even a legal department, should look further than only automating the low value legal work, and consider how technology, legal knowledge and industry experience, can be integrated with technology and client insights to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive solution.
An excellent example of this is the Gadens Breach Manager for financial services which combines workflow automation technology, with expert knowledge of the legal and regulatory landscape. This sophisticated productised legal solution allows structured and flexible processes internally and externally and was designed and iterated based on insights and recommendations from clients.
Other examples of productised legal solutions can involve a focus on workflow and process that is designed and built specifically to solve a problem faced by legal teams. One that we have been working on with a partner is a legal workflow solution to help solve for DSAR’s (Data Subject Access Rights) which is a requirement related to GDPR.
A traditional approach to productised legal services has a ‘go-to-market’ or sales approach of selling one product to many. Again, this may be a successful route to market for consumers and SME, however the sophisticated corporate and government client will need security, configurability and an ability to customise a solution to meet their specific requirements.
The future of law looks beyond simplicity, and looks to solve client problems holistically, incorporating technology with deep legal expertise, client insights, process, to solve client problems in a way that has never been done before. Combine this with the ability to meet individuals needs and requirements at scale, and productised legal solutions becomes a very exciting opportunity for legal technologists, innovators, and law firms.
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