Faced with changes in the legal market like court e-Filing rules, and strategic imperatives such as digital transformation and future-proofing their organizations, law firms and legal departments are turning to technology for solutions. Not only are law firms expanding their use of technology, but they also expect their litigation support service providers to use leading-edge technology for their business operations and service delivery.
But clients expect more from their providers than just great technology. They’re looking for a full-meal deal. They want to work with providers that can combine powerful technology with deep domain expertise and exceptional client service.
In short, legal clients today require a tech-enabled, client-focused litigation support service provider that can efficiently and expertly support their needs.
So, what exactly do legal clients expect of their attorney service providers? We’ll look at four things that, when combined, will earn and keep their business.
1. Clients Expect Litigation Support Service Providers to use a High-Performance Technology Platform.
With digital transformation underway, the legal profession is turning to transformative technologies to help them improve their operations, better serve their clients, and expand their businesses. Law firms and legal departments are realizing the tremendous value of technology for enabling:
- Workflow automation
- Paper-free, digitized operations
- Platform or system integrations
- Data and analytics
With a high-performance litigation support technology platform, attorney service providers can help clients check off all those boxes.
Court eFiling Portal – a Must-Have for Legal Clients
As the number of California courts that accept or require electronic document filing increases, eFiling has become a critical requirement for doing business with many California courts. With electronic filing technology, users can easily open court cases and eFile or eServe documents to a growing number of California courts from anywhere and at any time.
With a high-performance technology platform like LegalConnect, attorney service providers can give their clients access to a powerful eFiling portal that automates file and serve processes, including:
- court eFilings in all California courts that accept eFilings
- physical court filings
- process serving through a nationwide network of affiliates
- delivery of court-stamped documents and proofs of service
- document retrieval
- status alerts
- invoice processing
- Secretary of State filings
- county recording
- skip trace processing
Not only does a portal mean 24/7 access for clients to do their file and serve work, but it also means their work will be done with greater accuracy and efficiency. Since each user of the portal (both lawyers and professional staff) has a personal login, they can quickly get an update on a service of process order or gain visibility into the complete file. Staff members at different offices can work on the same case and access the same information in real-time. Staff can log into the portal 24/7 to conduct various tasks such as pulling information about conformed copies, proofs of service, or updates. Because staff can access information from anywhere in real-time, they also minimize time spent communicating internally about cases.
High-performance electronic filing technology like LegalConnect, is directly integrated with the maximum number of courts that allow eFilings. In California, 30 counties accept e-filing (as of Q2 2022.) That number will only grow, so an eFiling portal is a must-have for law firms with expansion in their plans. The portal also connects users to a nationwide network of process servers where they can execute file-and serve in one order flow.
Efficient, Paperless Workflows
While enabling automated e-filing and e-serve processes, electronic filing technology also allows legal clients to adopt paperless works flows and electronic payments for filings and process serving. From the time a case is opened through an eFiling portal until the automated delivery of court-stamped documents and proofs of service, the time and resources needed to complete filing and serving are greatly reduced. Wet signatures, printing, copying, faxing, delivering documents, and check payments are eliminated.
A paperless workflow provides several main benefits for clients:
- Reduces the margin of error associated with the handling of paper documents
- Reduces staff time and resources required for filings
- Allows for online payment of court filings and fees
Attorney service providers that use eFiling technology provide clients an avenue for a paperless workflow and a way to reduce risk, lower costs and increase efficiencies.
Data for Improving Performance
Like many businesses, law firms and corporate legal departments are becoming increasingly data-driven. Access to data enables business leaders to make informed decisions that can lead to enhanced business performance, streamlined operations, and stronger customer relationships.
Litigation support service software captures important client user data such as:
- eFiling acceptance and turnaround times
- service success rates
- user behavior
- order information
Attorney service providers that provide eFile capability can pass this data to their clients, who can use it to analyze performance in those areas. Data is beneficial for clients in pinpointing weaknesses and making operational improvements.
For example, the data may show that 20% of a client’s process orders aren’t being served. This may seem alarming, but a closer look at that data may reveal that the cause of the incomplete orders is bad addresses. With this knowledge, clients can make a course correction.
Clients appreciate an attorney service provider that can provide valuable data that might otherwise be difficult for them to collect themselves and that gives them a window into improving their performance.
Seamless System Integrations to Improve Efficiencies
While technology can significantly improve operating efficiencies, having too many technologies that don’t work in tandem can be costly and counterproductive. Modern law firms and legal departments need technologies that can integrate with existing systems to eliminate redundancies and improve processes.
E-filing service technology, like LegalConnect, can integrate directly with various accounting, CRM, and practice management systems to automate legal workflows and leverage data. The integration enables a firm to instantly access data about its work and view it in real-time.
A good example of how integration can benefit the client’s bottom line is reconciling expenses at the end of a case. All the court filing fees and costs associated with a case are instantly available to the client. This allows reimbursements to be made quickly and easily and reduces the time needed for accounting to reconcile the charges to the matter.
Legal clients appreciate integration’s financial benefit and may look for attorney service providers that enable integration solutions.
2. Clients Expect their Litigation Support Service Provider to Have Fair Pricing Practices
No one likes fees that are buried in fine print or surcharges that are quietly tacked on to inflate a price that initially seemed like a good deal. Unexpected or hidden fees can upend a budget and lead clients to take their business elsewhere.
Legal clients expect pricing transparency from their attorney service provider and want to know the total cost of services and fees up front, not after placing an order.
High-performance eFiling technology removes the potential for ambiguity around pricing. Attorney service providers input and maintain fees directly in the technology platform where clients can see them in the workflow of the portal during the ordering process.
In addition to transparent pricing, clients also want to know about a provider’s billing process and the available payment methods. They especially want itemized invoices that detail all fees charged in relation to a client matter that is needed for reconciling expenses.
The built-in eCommerce functionality of a best-in-class eFiling portal makes reconciling fees to matters a snap. Its electronic payment feature simplifies the reimbursement process, eliminating outstanding checks, postage, and envelopes and freeing up time firms can use to re-task employees.
3. Clients Expect their Attorney Service Provider to Excel at Customer Service
Most everyone can recall an instance when they stopped using a particular cellular phone service, bank, doctor, restaurant, or other provider because of sub-par service. When customers don’t get the level of service they expect, they find a provider that can. Legal clients expect no less than superior customer service when it comes to attorney service providers, and they look for providers who treat them like valued customers and consistently meet their expectations.
Communication is not just a part of customer service; it is arguably the most important part of customer service. And in the high-stakes environment of litigation, communication is vital.
Legal clients need and expect timely and honest communications from their providers. They need to be kept apprised of what’s going on with their work because, ultimately, they are responsible for it. They expect their provider to proactively anticipate and timely communicate potential issues before they become more significant problems. In short, they want to be kept in the loop, not in the dark.
Good communication underpins all successful relationships. Attorney service providers often overlook the importance of it for building client loyalty and growing their business. To be successful, ensuring excellent client communication needs to be a part of the culture and strategy of a provider’s business.
Litigation is a deadline focused, high-pressure practice where accurate and timely fulfillment of court filings and service of process are critical to outcomes where the stakes may be high. To ensure this vital need, legal clients depend on their attorney service provider to have the deep domain expertise to help them succeed at their file and serve processes. They expect their attorney service provider to have an expert understanding of:
- state and local court rules
- industry eFiling technology and systems
- eFiling procedures
- document requirements
- peculiarities of clerks and judges in their service areas
Expert knowledge about the various electronic court filing systems and how to operate eFiling software are essential for supporting clients with their eFiling needs.
Legal clients need to know that their provider will be there for them when they need support. And they want to communicate on their preferred channel, whether in person, online or on the phone.
They expect their attorney service provider to be accessible through multiple channels, including:
- Toll-free telephone number
- Customer support email address
- Live chat feature on their website
And when they do need support, clients expect to be assisted by knowledgeable, well-trained, helpful support staff ready to respond to their inquiries. They expect inquiries to be handled quickly, and expertly and that their issues get resolved.
Superior customer service is imperative for legal clients. It’s becoming increasingly clear that attorney service providers who put their client’s needs and interests at the center of their business come out on top. Those who aren’t customer-centric will watch their clients switch to providers that are.
4. Clients Expect their Litigation Support Service Provider to be a Strategic Partner
Competition in the legal industry grows more intense every day. In response, law firms and legal departments are taking a hard look at their current business models and practices to derive greater efficiencies and gain a competitive advantage.
As part of this process, legal clients are reevaluating the role of their attorney service provider and how a provider can help improve their strategic position. No longer satisfied with a purely transactional relationship, clients now expect their attorney service provider to act as a strategic partner.
What Does a Strategic Partner Do?
A strategic attorney service provider partner does more for its clients than just supplying a service. A strategic partner focuses on providing a complete solution by leveraging their expertise, experience, technology, and customer support resources to meet the client’s needs.
- They are proactive and seek to add value to their client’s business.
- They inquire about their client’s goals and objectives to understand their role and fit in helping clients achieve them.
- They focus on strategic business outcomes like cost, process efficiencies, and risk management.
- They are always thinking of new and different ways to do things.
- They care about each client interaction because their focus is a long-term relationship and partnership with them.
- They provide clients with data and reports for transparency, accountability, and more.
- They discuss new ways for the client to use their technology and consult about integrations with the client’s software.
It’s a big, competitive world out there, and legal clients need service-oriented, expert partners they can count on to work in their corner. Many features built into a high-performance litigation support technology platform allow providers to act as strategic partners with their clients.
A Growth Opportunity
As more and more courts implement eFiling, attorney service providers who have a high-performance litigation support technology platform and a court e-filing portal will have an opportunity to grow their business. With LegalConnect, attorney service providers can support clients with transformative technology that helps them streamline processes, reduce costs, and gain competitive advantages.
Litigation support services providers that combine technology with deep domain expertise and attention to client service are well-positioned to attract and retain clients and grow their client base. That’s the new breed of providers that clients need and expect.
Want to learn more about LegalConnect? Call (800) 909-6859 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.