The legal profession places great value on tradition. For example, the Virginia bar exam still includes age-old Latin terms. While some of these traditions foster a sense of deep community and respect, others tend to impede the profession’s evolution. In an age of artificial intelligence and accessible online documents, lawyers need to lean into change. Jack Newton, the CEO and co-founder of Clio, recently published a book titled The Client Centered Law Firm urging lawyers to view technology, change, and upheaval as opportunities, not threats. In three parts, Newton breaks down how a client-centered law firm is necessary to evolve and thrive in this ever changing, digital age. Here are the top three things that I learned from reading The Client Centered Law Firm:
- What is your service? While lawyers usually think that their services are advice and counsel, or their work product, there is more to the story. Newton highlights that the overall client experience is also a service that lawyers provide (whether they realize it or not). A PwC Future of Customer Experience survey confirms that 32% of customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one bad experience. Since the law is an industry based on reputation and word-of-mouth referrals, the client experience is crucial and cannot be overlooked.
- How are you offering your service? Customers have high expectations. The internet has broken down many barriers to searching for an attorney (for example, one Google search of “business attorney near me” shows 27 pages of websites to browse). If your website is difficult to navigate and your contact information is not visible on your home page, you are not meeting customer expectations (i.e., an effortless experience). However, attorneys do not need to exceed customer expectations! Newton opines that exceeding customer expectations makes basically zero difference in how loyal a customer is likely to be since loyalty plateaus once a customer’s expectations are met. But, if you can improve your website and processes to help one client, you will improve the experience for all your clients.
- Who are you putting first? If you answered with “my clients,” then you are incorrect (according to Newton). Instead of putting clients first, Newton suggests that your firm be centered around your clients. It is more effective to treat clients as the hub for your decision-making. Client-centered firms ensure that the client experience is excellent and the process changes that are made are cost-effective and logical. Putting your clients at the center of your thinking, and running a client-centered law firm, empowers you and your firm to be profitable and successful in a world where the client experience is king.
The Client Centered Law Firm is not just another book with vague suggestions; it is a practical guide for change with immediately usable tips. Reading this book has improved the way Perkins Law conducts business, and we highly recommend it to our colleagues throughout the central Virginia legal community.