New research produced by the Legal Services Board and the Solicitors Regulation Authority has uncovered the attitudes of the public and solicitors towards using technology within legal services.
The research showed that, on the whole, the public is willing to use well-established technologies like video consultations and e-signatures, yet for new technologies – such as smart contracts and AI-driven chat bots – there is much more reluctance. The responses given by solicitors mirrored these views – yet with greater willingness to use common technologies, and greater reluctance to use technologies they are unfamiliar with.
The report, however, went on to state that both the public and legal professionals see the wider benefits of using legal technologies to speed up processes, provide better services and to improve business efficiencies. But with new technologies consistently coming into the market promising to do all of these things and more, how do we build confidence in legal professionals to use them, and build trust with the client so that they see these technologies as safe to use and beneficial to them?
This article explores the benefits of getting to grips with new technologies within today’s law firms when undertaking legal probate services. It also explains why “regulators, lawtech developers and legal professionals all have role to play in building public confidence in the adoption of [these] services” for consumers to reap the benefits too.
Public concerns vs priorities
When it comes to probate, naturally, the notifier’s priority is to get through the process as smoothly as possible to prevent further stress and grief after their loss. Yet, as many who have gone through the process know, it is often lengthy, featuring many delays, and complicated, with so many assets and stakeholders to keep up with – not to mention rife with unexpected costs. Forward-thinking firms are turning to technology to enhance the process for themselves and the notifier while reducing costs, yet the public’s concerns towards this are plentiful.
Many have concerns regarding data security, the impact of replacing humans with technology – with great doubt surrounding the empathy and decision-making that technology can offer – and finally, digital exclusion for those less able to use or access technology. In fact, a high proportion of the public have said that “technology should never be used in the delivery of legal services”.
Despite these concerns, it should be noted that when looking into the benefits consumers see towards technology, the potential of more affordable services took top spot, followed by the improved accuracy of services and quicker services.
So, at what point will the benefits of adopting technology, outweigh the risks? Or, is it that simple?
Legal professionals concerns vs priorities
To build public confidence around technology, professionals must first ensure they are confident with it themselves as, admittedly, many legal professionals have still not adopted technology any less familiar than the Microsoft Office Suite.
2022 Bereavement Index research shows that only 1 in 5 legal professionals have adopted technology specifically for managing probate cases; over a third still rely on common office tools.
Alike consumers, they too share concerns about data security and cybercrime in what is a very privileged and data-heavy sector. They also share concerns around the human-element of service – the empathy and understanding they are able to show during such difficult times that technology usage may prevent – as well as the aspect of digital exclusion.
But again, alike consumers, most legal professionals [feel] strongly that technology can improve services for clients, because their priorities for adopting it are based around providing speedier services – particularly in areas like probate where prolonging an individual’s grief could cause lasting damaging effects on their wellbeing. They also prioritise convenience in communication and finally, affordability – all of which can be enhanced through the use of technology.
So how do we reap the benefits of technology within legal matters like probate, while overcoming the concerns shared by both the public and professionals?
The benefits of legal tech for probate
Consumers are correct in presuming that technology would provide them with the benefits of more affordable services, enhanced accuracy of data and communications and thus, speedier resolutions. With the help of today’s case management software which can be integrated with third party data providers, legal professionals can attain more accurate data about a person who has passed away, much more quickly, reducing onus on the consumer. This means quicker case resolutions at much more affordable prices, with professionals requiring less time to complete cases – enhancing client convenience and wellbeing.
But the client isn’t the only one who reaps the benefits. For professionals, enhanced client wellbeing means enhanced employee wellbeing – a result of dealing with less stressed customers often a result of high case fees and lengthy timeframes. Plus, when it comes to their day-to-day processes, technology can reduce the time spent on monotonous tasks like data re-entry – with technologies like Exizent replicating data for you at the click of a button. This automation also reduces the common risk of rework when mistakes are made. Finally, with the benefits of doing things quicker professionals get more time back in their day to spend out of work with friends and family, or within work taking on more cases or providing more personalised services to current clients to enhance their experience.
It seems, the benefits are clear, yet concerns remain. So how can we overcome the fears associated with modern technology to increase its usage to the benefit of all?
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This article was submitted to be published by Exizent as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.