How Law Firms Are Helping Clients Assess Their Risk Levels (and More) With Decision Tree Apps

Since publishing our 2017 report into the State of Mobile in Law Firms, we’ve been digging deeper to discuss the strategies involved behind specific app types used in the legal industry.

In a previous article about Regulation Comparison apps, we mentioned that over 1/4 of all apps created by law firms are reference apps – apps created to help clients and the public navigate the law.

Decision tree apps are included within this category and serve a similar purpose in a more direct way – by directly providing answers to specific scenarios. There are at least 5 apps by the top 300 firms in this category, most of which were created in the last year.

What is a decision tree tool?

It’s useful to refer to a decision tree tool as a ‘flow’ through which users travel to reach a solution or answer. Most decision tree tools are essentially a sequence of screens that are linked together. Based on what the user does when they’re in the app they will be directed to a specific ‘next screen’.

A common example of a decision tree tool is a questionnaire, where the user answers a number of questions. Each answer they select moves a “variable” that will determine what the next question they are asked is, or simply changes the answer provided at the end. You can find a selection of other examples below.

Who would use it?

The beauty of decision tree apps is that they can be applied to a number of scenarios, and thus, can be used by many people. They’re an incredibly user-friendly app type which allow users to get from A to B quickly.

This makes them the perfect design for a crisis response app, where users need to figure out what to do in a specific scenario, and fast.

Firms have also created decision tree apps specifically for clients – most often in two critical scenarios:

  • Assessing risk
  • Recommending a course of action

It’s clear marketing materials are never actual legal advice. Instead, their purpose is to provide a legal context to specific questions and encourage a client to seek advice in case their risk level is high or if the app reveals information they weren’t aware of

Examples of decision tree apps

We’ve selected a few examples of apps that use a decision tree format to structure their screens. Each of these may look different, but fundamentally they’re using the same layout to filter their users through a series of options based on what they’re expected to be searching for when they open the app.

Clyde Covered by Clyde & Co (iOS)

Clyde and Co App Screens

Clyde Covered is a free incident notification app for “general working environments”.

It collects the following information:

  • The user’s contact details
  • Location (via GPS or manual input)
  • Type of incident (select from options such as injury, illness or death)
  • Consequences of the incident (10 possible options, such as eye injury, amputation, hospital stay, etc.)

And based on those, it provides:

  • An answer on whether your incident is notifiable to the relevant local health and safety regulator
  • The relevant regulator’s details to streamline incident notification
  • An automatically-generated incident report which you can then save or email for your records

This app is exemplary for its use of a good, straightforward experience, the speediness of the process, and the quality of the insight provided. Going through the app takes no more than a few seconds, and we can see how a tool like this would be of huge value to companies everywhere.

Access Assist by Allen & Overy (iOS)

Allen and Overy App Screens

Access Assist is designed to help businesses of all kinds deal with requests for access to the personal data they hold, whether the requests are made by employees, customers or others.

The app’s journey takes the user through 13 questions, some of which are yes/no, and some being multiple choice.

In return, the app displays:

  • A straightforward answer on whether or not the company has to provide the information requested
  • The reason why they need to provide access to the data, or not
  • Several recommendations on how to proceed and relevant links

Due to the longer journey, the app also allows you to save your answers for later, and skip questions so you can provide the ones you have to hand.

In terms of the insights provided, we can see this app being very useful – the number of variables is enough to make the issue quite confusing to someone who’s uninformed, but the app makes it quite easy to reach a conclusion.

Digital Marketing Law by Bird & Bird (iOS)

BirdBird Digital Marketing Law App Screens

“The Digital Marketing Law Guide, created by international law firm Bird & Bird, is designed to support marketing teams in six key areas of online advertising and marketing law, across the local laws of nine European countries.”

The app uses a simple, yet effective navigation to provide the basic ‘need to know’ information for each topic and country, particularly in relation to marketing campaigns. When a user selects an option from the menu list they’re taken to the respective screens, for example, ‘select’ country’ > ‘select topic’ > ‘select sub-topic’ > ‘show answer’.

Eversheds Sutherland Employment and Pensions Guide (iOS)

Eversheds Country Comparison App Screens

The Eversheds Sutherland app provides an easy-to-access reference source for employment and pensions law across the globe and allows you to compare legislation in different jurisdictions.

The app includes information on key aspects of international employment law and the essentials of international Pensions.

It uses a very similar navigational flow to that of the above Bird & Bird app, allowing users to quickly select their country, legislation and then view the required information.

What does an ideal decision tree tool look like?

Ideally, an app that uses a decision tree layout will meet some fundamental criteria:

  • Use a clear and minimalistic layout – you don’t want your users to be confused or distracted by unnecessary content on your decision tree tool.
  • Efficient navigation – Allow the user to find what they’re looking for easily and quickly
  • Concise, relevant content – only use content that the user will need, and avoid filling the app with ‘optional’ information.

If the app meets these requirements the finished decision tree will not only ensure that the user finds what they need, but they’ll do so quickly and without encountering unnecessary information.

How to build your decision tree layout

Creating a decision tree layout for an app is simple if you use a platform like Fliplet. You can create the screens you require, set up the required navigation, and fill the app with the respective content. Find out more about our platform, Fliplet Studio.