How can legal technology make legal services more relevant to consumers and what’s holding the legal sector back? We speak to Mark A. Cohen, CEO and Founder of Legal Mosaic, global thought leader on legal technology and regular contributor to Forbes.
1. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing law firms today?
Their model. The traditional partnership model is not designed to invest in the future and tends to produce a short-term perspective—distribute profits, not reinvest them.
2. Why do you think legal technology is important?
Legal technology has the potential to enable new models of delivery that will promote efficiency, access, and reduce costs for legal consumers - both retail and corporate. Tech, by itself, is not a panacea.
3. What do you consider as low hanging fruit in terms of disrupting legal services?
Better customer service. By that, I mean providers focusing on more efficient legal delivery, enhancing access to legal services, recognising that many legal services can be delivered as products, not services, and seeing things through the prism of the consumer, not the traditional legal paradigm. This is the age of the customer, and law has been slow to recognise that.
4. How do you think legal services can be made more relevant to consumers?
The legal profession has a branding problem. It consistently ranks among the lowest industries in customer satisfaction and, trust. This is a problem - for the profession, the industry, society as a whole and the rule of law. The legal profession must recognise that there are models and tools available that can help ameliorate that. The profession must realise that law is not simply about lawyers anymore - it’s about the profession and the industry. The industry—the business of delivering legal services and leveraging differentiated practice expertise - is investing in tech, processes, and people.
5. Applying traditional business concepts to the legal industry, how do you think lawyers can treat their clients more as customers?
They can start by asking basic questions such as “How can I help you? What are your objectives?” Beyond that, lawyers can be better communicators. They must recognise that they are providing expertise, as well as a service, to help solve problems.
6. We’ve seen through fintech other industries adopt new technology, what do you think is holding the legal market back?
Compared with other industries, law has traditionally thrived on a labour-intensive model where lawyers determine what is necessary to achieve the “best possible legal work product”. This is not always aligned with what the client/ customer needs. Technology has the potential to maximise lawyer efficiency but it is often resisted by the profession for (short-term) economic and cultural reasons.
7. What more can be done by firms to help their staff adopt new technology?
Firms can take a different perspective. They could ask - what could tech, process, and other experts do to help us operate more efficiently and better function internally and with our clients?
8. What three qualities do you think a modern lawyer should have?
IQ, EQ and inquisitiveness.
IQ because lawyers have historically been reasonably intelligent, but that alone is not enough.
EQ because to serve a client well, one must be empathetic as well as intellectually agile.
Inquisitiveness because the fundamental nature of the profession has not changed very much but the tools, resources and models from which it is delivered have changed. Lawyers must be inquisitive beyond their own matters, organisations, jurisdictions, and profession/industry. They must relate what they are doing and how they are doing it to what clients need. They can learn how others may be delivering services more effectively. They need to be more thoughtful about considering law in a broader context.
9. What’s your long term prediction for the legal sector as a whole?
The legal sector has the potential to do a better job serving clients and society if it is willing to take a long hard look in the existential mirror and ask how it can improve service and products to clients and those in need of legal services.