Thursday, August 6, 2020

University of Lincoln research predicts digital future for law firm

Students participating in the University of Lincoln’s Graduate Skills Builder programme have recently submitted a report following a market research project to a regional law firm.

The aim of the project – carried out for Sills & Betteridge – was to help them better understand consumer experiences and perceptions of traditional law firms, and respond to consumer expectations of such firms to deliver legal services via online methods.

The firm has engaged with the University throughout the academic year, became involved in the research following an 18 month period of experimentation with various digital solutions, including interactive driving and employment law chatbots, led by Partner and ‘Legal Tech’ enthusiast Andy Kerrigan.

“The research supports online engagement as a means of building rapport with clients, and whilst legal content, insights and case tracking are common on law firms’ websites, provision of actual legal advice and documents online including paid subscription services has, to date, been very much the domain of online-only organisations,” he said.

“The results of this research however support my belief that firms like Sills & Betteridge also need to offer an online facility for some practice areas, as an alternative or additional service.”

Whilst many of the participants to the research project hadn’t used an actual online legal provider for a transaction or for advice, they had consulted various websites for initial advice and signposting on various legal queries.

The most common reasons participants said they would use an online legal service, would be to resolve their legal issue or draft documents without the intervention of a solicitor, or to complement the service provided by a solicitor.

The students additionally reviewed the firm’s website and made recommendations about speed and user experience, which the firm has taken forward with the development of its new website which launches this week.

The firm is developing a digital agenda for 2020/21 which will look to build on the work already undertaken and will aim to develop practical online resources for our clients.

“There is a gap between the expectation of what law firms might deliver digitally and the limited services currently available. Sills & Betteridge has committed to working on digital projects that are truly accessible and provide practical solutions,” said Mr Kerrigan.

“The input of the students has been invaluable in helping shape our vision. I was particularly impressed with how the students adapted to the change in circumstances with the lockdown commencing during the project.

“The explosion of the use of video conferencing during the lockdown proves the students’ recommendation that we should aim to provide more services and resources via video and video conference platforms. I look forward to continuing to work with the University as we develop our digital strategy.”

Mark Stow, Head of Careers & Employability the University of Lincoln, said: “This project is a real exemplar of what we aspired to achieve in instigating the Graduate Skills Builder Initiative. It clearly shows how our students are drawing on their skills and abilities to add real business value to organisations across our region.

“This project had students from multiple degree disciplines including Psychology, Computer Science and Business Management, all working collaboratively to solve a real business challenge. We are thrilled by the results of this project, and would like to thank our employer partners, such as Sills & Betteridge for investing their time in this initiative.”

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