Your client base is changing.
Ready to feel old? Millennials are now in their late 20s to mid-30s, and according to a House of Commons research briefing, millennials make up 13.9% of the total U.K. population and 35% of the U.K. workforce. Not only are millennials increasingly representative of the prospective client base seeking legal services, they are also a leading indicator for how consumer expectations will trend as a whole over time. As the millennial generation grows older and comes to rely more on legal services, their expectations should determine how law firms find and serve new clients—and how they provide services to their current clients.
But what do we know about millennials? Are they really so different from the clients your firm is serving today?
Here’s a look at what to consider if you’re looking to secure more millennial clients for your law firm—and you should be.
So-dubbed by The U.K. Times, members of “Generation Mute” have a strong preference for texting over talking in person or on the phone. Some consider this a risk of personal isolation and a deterioration of social skills—only 37% of millennials said they felt more comfortable speaking to people they did not know face-to-face, compared to more than two-thirds of those aged 55 and over, according to a Cancer Research U.K. study. But tread lightly here—texting with your real estate agent or getting a quick answer from a chatbot on a website simply weren’t options even a few years ago, let alone for those over the age of 55.
Millennials are accustomed to on-demand information—answers are no more than a Tweet or Google search away, so it isn’t surprising that they shy away from the interruptive and drawn-out experience of calling over the phone or seeing someone in person. And, we know the legal industry specifically is affected by this trend. According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, 19% of millennials who have ever had a legal issue say that they’d rather text or email their lawyer than talk on the phone or face-to-face.
Here’s how Clio customer and millennial law firm owner Stephen C. Paul puts it:
“I’m a millennial. I grew up on computers, and while a lot of my clientele is older than me now, very shortly, the majority of my clients are going to end up being millennials too. We’re used to opening up a computer and finding an answer to something immediately … Sometimes, millennials don’t want to call anyone on the phone. We just want to send a quick message, or log in to something quickly, and get the information we want immediately.”
When we apply this same millennial attitude to U.K. legal services providers, we see that many do not meet this generation’s expectations. A recent Legal Services Consumer Panel report on market transparency found that only 6% of law firms listed pricing information on their websites. The most basic question of ‘What will this cost me?’ cannot be answered by most law firms in the way millennials expect.
Ease and access above all
For a generation that is used to accessing the work of the entire music industry with just a few clicks, the idea of calling a law firm to request a document, then having to wait for a lawyer to print it off and mail it, is downright barbaric. In fact, 30% of millennials say they’d prefer to use technology to share legal documents with their lawyer.
The good news is that it is possible to let your clients easily share their legal documents with you using technology. Millennials want instant access to information, and client communications portals like Clio Connect help lawyers provide this service while keeping information secure and protecting client confidentiality. Options like Box, Dropbox, and NetDocuments all provide options for securely storing and sharing documents with your clients (and, they all integrate with Clio).
Methods of payment matter
Does your law firm accept contactless payment? How about payments via PayM or Apple Watch? According to Internations.com, 82% of the U.K.’s online payments were made through alternative methods such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet in 2015. When we look at the legal sphere specifically, 24% of millennials who have ever had a legal issue say they’d rather pay their lawyer by credit card and 18% of millennials say they’d prefer to use PayPal or similar platforms to pay their lawyers. According to an infographic associated with Telstra Global’s inaugural Millennial, Mobile, Money Index, “76% of [m]illenials’ financial engagements are mobile.”
Just as millennials want instant access to information, they also want the payment process to be quick and seamless. The easier you can make it to pay, the more likely your clients are to pay you on time.
If you’re still requiring payment by cheque, you are creating a headache for your millennial clients.
The cloud is the new normal
To provide truly mobile services to clients, firms need to be using cloud-based tools. With cloud-based document management, accounting, and practice management tools, lawyers can truly be mobile, meeting at places and times that are most convenient for their clients (millennial and otherwise), and practicing from anywhere. If they’re using an on-premise system that requires them to be in the office to use it, or to log in using outdated, clunky VPNs, they’ll be much more limited in how and where they can provide their services.
Adopting cloud computing technology is the first step. It enables the easy, and secure, sharing of information via web platforms and mobile devices, and facilitates the on-demand communication millennial clients are after. Powerful and trusted platforms like Clio act as a central hub, allowing you to connect with apps and services for document storage, client intake, and much more.
Also, unlike in the past where on-premise solutions were developed and improved in silos, best practices for development have arisen amongst cloud-based solutions, making it easier for different tools to integrate with one another. In turn, this change allows legal professionals to craft technology ecosystems that work for their firms.
The Law Society has issued a detailed practice note on cloud computing services, including risks that any solicitors, practice managers or law firm IT staff should be aware of. And, as GDPR guidelines come into effect this May, it’s without question that solicitors have a duty to keep up with changing requirements. However, the benefits of cloud computing are numerous, and can even alleviate some of the burden of privacy and data storage if providers are chosen judiciously. Look for cloud computing providers who offer geo-redundant storage options, third-party certifications, SSL-encryption, and an overall focus on security and reliability.
“While there were some initial doubts over the security of the cloud back in 2008—especially amongst lawyers—it’s now accepted that the cloud is more secure than on-premise solutions,” says Jack Newton, CEO of Clio and President of the Legal Cloud Computing Association. “Gartner expects that through 2020, public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) workloads will suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centres.”
Don’t be left behind
In a Legal Week Intelligence and Microsoft survey of legal professionals in the U.K., 87% of those surveyed said they still used a pen and paper for legal work. In contrast, 93% of organizations around the globe are using cloud-based services.
“The cloud has brought modern technology to the legal consumer,” says Joshua. “This has given clients a strong delineation between solicitors that work in the modern age, and those that have yet to catch up.”
When you address the needs of your millennial clients, you’ll turn them into advocates. Instead of being a chore to deal with, they will remember their interactions with you as seamless and painless, and should leave your engagement feeling understood and respected—and eager to refer your services to others.
The PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017 offers a succinct summary: “At a time when supply already significantly outstrips demand, firms who cannot keep up with this pace of client led change may eventually disappear.”