Will Automation Replace Lawyers? Not if We Improve Our Client Services
Depending on how and where you get your news, you may have recently heard a lot of discussion about robots and machines taking over the jobs that humans are trained to do. A new study from the research firm PwC estimates that nearly 40% of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation in the next 15 years. In the midst of this reality, what can lawyers do to stay relevant? Stay focused on providing excellent client service.
To arrive at the estimates, PwC evaluated the jobs based on how routinized, such as filling out paperwork, the jobs tended to be, along with the likelihood that the job could be replaced by technology. While the practice of law does have many routinized components, there is also much that cannot be replaced by technology. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are certainly going to win the race against humans when it comes to problem-solving and data management, but when it comes to the ability to relate to others and to feel emotions – humans will come in first place every time! And, it turns out all of these abilities are essential in the legal world and that’s why client service is so meaningful. Here are three ways to improve client service:
Focus on the Person, Not the Problem
I remember sitting in law school and hearing a peer say “I don’t want to deal with all of that. If I did, I would have been a social worker.” No one is asking you to be a social worker. By focusing on the person and her or his emotions, it doesn’t mean you must personally take on all of the emotions of your client; instead, it is asking you to never lose sight of the emotions of your client. Sometimes we, as lawyers, forget what it feels like to go through the legal process for the first time. Many of the clients are frightened and anxious. By acknowledging this fear and anxiety, and by helping to calm the client’s inevitable fears and concerns during the legal process, you are connecting with him or her in a way that AI cannot.
Give Each Client the Attention S/He Deserves
For many clients who walk in to attorney offices, they are thrust into a zone of chaos. The attorney is shuffling papers, checking email, answering the phone, shooting off a quick text, oh yes – all while billing the client in front of her for this meeting. When you are on the clock with a client, make that client feel like she or he is the only client who matters. This means avoiding all other distractions. Avoiding other distractions not only helps the client to feel acknowledged and appreciated but it also helps the attorney to more fully focus on the client’s matter.
Listen to Your Clients
Listening to someone give you a compliment is often an easy thing to do. Listening to someone offer you criticism can be a difficult task. But, both are necessary to grow and expand ourselves and our law practices. Whether it is concerning your demeanor or your legal writing, you should always welcome both positive and critical feedback. All feedback is an opportunity for us to learn, adapt, and improve. And, it is our clients who offer us the most important feedback of all.