The concept of creating products to be used in the legal field is not a new phenomenon.
Traditionally these products were created by legal publishers who had digitised their content or new entrant software vendors who spotted an opportunity to provide law firms with platforms that enabled them to manage their legal service offering and/or made them more efficient in the process. The first entrants focused on case and matter management in an attempt to digitise the trusted manila file and to replicate the idea of managing a matter but through an electronic file and the use of workflows and document management.
What is new is the idea that the legal service provider themselves, the law firm, creates a product enabling the delivery of legal services or enhancing the bespoke legal advice their client receives. This is now being achieved using configurable applications and platforms or bespoke development. The difference here is the law firm getting to the heart of what 'their client' wants enabling a more joined up approach to the delivery of legal services.
What products mean to us
At AG we see products arising from two main sources;
The first is that a technology solution may be developed initially for a specific client engagement. These often start life as a bespoke solution but by combining the building blocks in different ways leads to powerful solutions that can be applied across practice areas.
Secondly colleagues across the business identify a market/business opportunity to create a solution or service offering backed by technology based on their expert knowledge and close relationship with our clients and market sectors. In the process, hopefully spotting the next big thing that our clients looking for.
The products tend to fall into three main categories but there is always scope for them to cross multiple categories;
Combining legal work with technology
Products that underpin the services we offer to our clients enabling them to interact with it as well as enhancing the legal services being offered. This might be sector specific matter management where the information gathered and analysed requires specific legal guidance to bring it to life, our recently launched Property Revealed product, is a great example of this.
Products with legal advice built in
Products, such as our EBA Ready tool, that enable clients to interact with advice and content as the main feature of the product whilst also giving then the option to interact further with legal services, support and advice. This might be as simple as a checklist that once completed advises on the best next course of action or surfaces legal advice and guides.
Client platform products
Products that enable clients to store their documents, manage their matters and view pertinent information with feature rich analytics and indicative dashboards. Having an oversight of matters, combined with more data and more MI, is essential in a more remote working world, and products like Legal Front Door have allowed our clients to have exactly this.
What are the drivers?
All products require a need or driver to make them worth the effort. As mentioned previously this 'product management' focus and ensuring products meet the expectations of the market relies heavily on colleagues across our business and their understanding of what clients require. The drivers for these products are varied in nature but tend to be dictated by;
- themes in a sector market, for example, acquiring or divestment of large property portfolios;
- regulatory changes, for example, the introduction and refinement of data laws;
- the need to be compliant (what don't I know about my business that I really should know);
- the requirement for more information and data
What is certain is that now law firms are creating client shaped products as part of their legal service offering demand will continue to grow. It won't be easy to stay on top of identifying opportunities, developing solutions and marketing but clients will increasingly expect a product or at the very least a technology solution to be offered as part of any service delivery.