Augmenting Lawyers with Robots

Augmenting Lawyers with Robots

‘Innovate or Die’ is a phrase that definitely applies to the legal sector and we are seeing some lawyers and firms accelerating their change programmes. However, many are still slow to adapt. The 2017 PwC report on law firms indicates that 80% of law firms understand that a clear digital strategy is critical to success, yet only 23% say theirs is underway.

With the increased opportunities presented to legal firms by technology such as digital case management systems, online document storage, digital mailrooms and robotics, now is the time for firms to re-imagine their services from the perspective of the client and then use digital technology as an enabler to change.

Start by getting input from two key sources – your clients and your lawyers.

Getting Client Input

Look at your existing client feedback and ask what you can learn from it. If this feels light in content or raises some questions, undertake some smart research, to explore what is important to clients and how good you are as a firm on delivering the most important points. Consider using an external research agency, allowing for anonymous feedback to gain more honest and helpful insights.

Research can be used to identify the rational and the emotional needs of clients – the rational being largely ‘what you do’ and the emotional represents ‘who you are’ as a firm. An example statement reflecting a rational need would be “You answer the phone and reply to email and letters promptly”.  An example statement reflecting an emotional need would be: “You stand up for me and fight my cause when needed”.


Law firms tend to focus on excelling technically and driving the rational outcomes, yet we know that clients are largely dealing with lawyers at times of stress and uncertainty. Digging into the emotional as well as the rational needs of clients will give you the chance to offer a customer experience that drives repeat business and recommendations.

Once you understand what your clients want, you can define your target customer experience.

Getting Staff Input to Customer Experience Innovation

There is a great thrill in engaging your people to drive innovation. Set up some workshops with your customer-facing staff and not just the senior staff. Provide some case studies on companies with great customer experiences to inspire, eg Zappos and Ritz Carlton. Tell them about the firm’s target customer experience and make it live.

Give your people the opportunity to design future end-to-end customer journeys. Build personas of your typical customers; use them to walk through a future customer journey, with a focus on desired customer experience and your business outcomes. Clearly define the channels against each stage of the customer journey as well as the customer service outcomes and key business indicators. Link the stages of the new customer journey to a target customer experience.

Defining Your Transformation Initiatives

Use the customer journeys to define a series of transformation initiatives, ensuring dependencies are well mapped. These should cover the total operating model – products & services, people, systems and processes as well as considerations of risk. You will need to involve senior representatives from across all functions including HR and Compliance as well as IT. Work up the business case for change, with costs and benefits.

Use technology to release staff from mundane tasks (eg contract & document review) and free them up to spend more time on billable work and providing an excellent customer experience. Systems can undertake routine tasks, gain consistency, reduce risk (always good in a regulated sector!) and drive growth and operational profitability. People who are recruited, trained, developed and incentivised to meet the rational and emotional needs of clients has to be core to the culture of a growing law firm.

Re-imagine your proposition from the perspective of the client, meld the human touch with machines and stand out from the crowd in legal service provision.


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