By Jaime Faulkner
Technology made leaps and bounds in 2017 and changed the way business is done.
“No industry has felt these changes as acutely as the legal profession,” says Law Technology Today. As “a sector renowned for being built on tradition”, the legal industry as a whole has struggled to adapt to the way law is practiced. It doesn’t have to be difficult, however.
To prepare yourself and your firm for what’s coming up in 2018, here are the major tech trends poised to impact the legal industry in 2018.
The Growing Importance of Local SEO
People often turn to the internet when they are looking for local service providers, and that includes attorneys. Webris reports that “96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.”
Search engine optimization (SEO) has long been a point of emphasis for businesses, but local SEO is becoming just as important, especially for law firms.
If your law firm ranks near the top of the results or land in the coveted Google 3-Pack, that can mean significantly more organic traffic, which in turn means more clients.
Online Services that Answer Legal Questions
Lawyers are no longer the only option when it comes to answering legal questions. There are now plenty of websites, such as LegalZoom, that provide answers to legal questions and allow visitors to ask their own. A lawyer, a paralegal or anyone else with legal knowledge can then chime in with answers.
These online services can be helpful marketing tools for your law firm. If you answer questions periodically, it can build your firm’s online reputation. Another benefit of signing up with LegalZoom is that it offers attorney profiles, allowing visitors to read more about the attorneys on the site and check out reviews from past clients.
Connecting with Clients on Social Networks
Social network sites may have started as a place where you can reconnect with family, friends and people from high school that you barely liked, but they have expanded to also include businesses – and they’ll be more important than ever in 2018. You can connect with clients by setting up business pages for your law firm on popular social networks.
LinkedIn is undoubtedly the social network of choice for making professional connections. Facebook and Twitter can also be useful for building brand awareness of your law firm and potentially meeting new clients.
Cube Social has some great tips for building up a client base around your marketing team. “Once you have configured your social media profiles, the number one strategy for delivering highly targeted traffic to your site is to create great content,” they say. The starting point for “all that content should be your law firm’s blog, which should be hosted on your own domain.”
The Transition to E-Discovery
The discovery process is never fun. Depending on the case, you could end up with box after box of evidence to go through, some of which will be useful and some of which was seemingly thrown in for no reason other than to make your life difficult.
The great news for lawyers and law firms everywhere is the transition to electronic discovery, or e-discovery for short. Instead of transferring physical documents, everything can be transferred electronically. This means you don’t need to store a bunch of boxes in your office, and it’s much easier to review the evidence in a case.
Using CRM Software with Clients
Customer relationship management (CRM) software has been used by businesses for years. It allows them to keep their customer information organized, track all interactions with each customer and provide a better experience that’s more tailored to the individual customer.
All those benefits can also apply when you use CRM software to handle your client relationships. With a CRM software intended for law firms, such as Lexicata, you have client information at your fingertips and can have better relationships with those clients.
Changes in Billing
The days of accepting only cash, personal checks and money orders are long gone. Clients now expect to be able to pay just about however they want. Most law firms accept credit cards at this point, but mobile payment apps are growing in popularity. Businesses that want to keep up will need to accept the latest payment methods.
Payment methods aren’t the only way billing is changing in the legal industry. Many law firms are moving away from billable hours and trying alternative billing methods, such as flat rates, to bring in new clients.
Keeping up with Legal Tech Trends
2018 will undoubtedly bring some game-changing technology to the legal scene. You can be ready for these changes and more by getting on top of your local SEO, social media marketing, billing system, and CRM use. Let these tools do the hard work for your firm while you focus on success in the courtroom.