7 Essential Law Firm Apps That Your Company Should Use
The legal industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technologies, and thus, it is not surprising that this has also been the case for law firm apps.
Despite a 62% increase in law firms using mobile apps between 2012 and 2013, and a rise to 91% of legal professionals using a smartphone, over half of smartphone and app usage in the law industry is confined to the use of phone, email, calendar and text messaging apps.
As a consequence, law firm investments in smartphone technology and other mobile devices are having little positive impact on employee productivity and customer experiences.
Now is the time for law firms to embrace mobile apps to stay ahead of the curve and differentiate themselves from competitors. Some law firms have already implemented mobile apps within their organizations to great effect.
But what are the benefits of enterprise apps, and what apps should law firms be adopting? Read on to find the answers, as well as suggestions for the next steps law firms should take to incorporate enterprise apps.
What types of app can your law firm create?
In essence, law firms just cannot afford not to use enterprise apps, or they will risk falling behind the competition.
Law firm apps will not only add value to existing services in the ways outlined above; they will also demonstrate firms’ awareness of cutting-edge technology and increase their presence in their clients’ everyday life.
Here are 7 examples of law firm apps that could improve your productivity and efficiency:
1. Cross-selling Apps
These apps provide partners with at-a-glance information of the law firm’s products and services. It helps them prepare ahead of meetings, even impromptu ones, and answer questions about areas they don’t directly work in.
Cross-selling is known to be a great way to increase profit in law firms so this app alone could increase law firms’ opportunities. Some law firms build note-taking functionality into these apps as well as the ability to send brochures to prospective clients by email.
2. Client Apps
Client communication apps enable lawyers and client relationship managers to send information and updates directly to specific clients without cluttering their inbox.
They can also send “push notifications” to advise on legislation changes, deliver the latest case updates, and ensure that they always have access to relevant legal information.
Additional benefits include the ability to offer services that enhance the client’s experience and encourage advocacy, such as event invites, educational resources and FAQs.
3. Focus Area Apps
Law firms often run campaigns about trending legal topics. Publishing a focus area app can help the law firm take the lead about these topics and provide clients and prospects with up-to-date information, and amass authority in the area.
For example, a Self-Driving Car Law App or a Unitary Patent Law App.
4. Pitching Apps
Pitches can be a competitive environment as competitor law firms create flashy presentations and glossy books. Pitching apps are growing in popularity as they provide a truly interactive experience that the prospective client can navigate at their convenience.
We’ve seen pitching apps that include analytical features (to tell the presenter what the prospect is looking at or most interested in).
We’ve also seen other great features such as note-taking, “email this section”, “ask a question” and a list of key contacts with direct dial options. Other options to consider can be video case studies, interactive diagrams, and supporting documents.
5. Client Training Apps
Knowledge & Learning departments in law firms have been getting creative in ways to help clients. We know of a law firm that has an app that allows clients to listen to CPD podcasts during their commute and others that have created interactive quizzes as a fun way to challenge clients to learn new regulations.
6. Content Marketing Apps
Many law firms are now aware of the importance of extending the reach of the content they produce, with many of them boasting strong content creation teams.
There has been an increase in legal content apps, including apps dedicated to a specific law, law comparison guides, FAQs apps and more. These apps are helping the law firms who create them raise their profile about their expertise on those particular pieces of content. As long as the content is kept fresh and useful, these apps can be quite longevous and get high praise from users.
These apps are helping the law firms who create them raise their profile about their expertise on those particular pieces of content. As long as the content is kept fresh and useful, these apps can be quite longevous and get high praise from users.
7. Service-Tailored Apps
The potential for specially-tailored apps in the legal industry is immense; whether it’s a fee calculator or an appointment booking system, there are numerous app types that you can utilise.
Other examples include personal injury apps that store accident information, witness statements, and doctor visits, and debt and income apps to help organize debt information and advice on the next steps.
What are the next steps law firms should take to adopt law firm apps?
Here are your options:
1. Use existing apps
There is a wide range of apps in the market that might be suited to some of the needs outlined above. For example, you could use a Dropbox app to send documents, or WhatsApp to communicate with clients.
While this is the more affordable option, it is also quite limiting in terms of meeting the exact firm needs, doesn’t provide branding and can jeopardise the security of your data (if sensitive).
2. Hire a developer to build apps for you
Most law firms are likely to create at least a few apps specially-tailored to them if they wish to stay ahead of the competition.
A number of firms are using technical agencies or contractors to develop apps, an approach which, although very costly, is able to meet all app requirements and provide optimal apps.
The downside of this approach is that the law firms that use it then have to re-engage the agency or contractor to update the app’s content or technical framework, which can prove quite costly and time-consuming, as some law firms have found.
3. Create your own apps
The middle-ground is using the tools provided by companies such as Fliplet to easily build apps tailored to your needs with no coding required.
This option requires a small amount of time to build the apps but is far more affordable than having them built externally, and is likewise easily tailored to specific firm needs.
All of these options include solutions that are designed to offer security system integration, instant updates, and app maintenance.
Are you using law firm apps? How effective do you find them? We’ve already worked with a number of law firms to help them create their own apps; check out Bird & Bird’s case study on how they’ve been at the forefront of innovation within the legal industry.
If you’re unsure why your law firm actually needs mobile apps check out our article on why they could be of benefit to your company.
[Editor’s note: This content was updated and republished on 17th October 2016]