Lawyers have a problem. Law firms advertise myriad legal services, but clients just want their problems solved.
This is driving the rise of "micro-niches" — extremely narrow areas of specific legal experience. Here's a look at how law firms can leverage emerging technology such as UCaaS solutions to embrace the micro-niche.
Micro-Niche, Macro Impact
Why do micro-niches matter? Each client has a problem that requires specific legal action. While a healthcare practice sounds good in theory, for example, the firm's exact area of expertise is what matters most. Clients might be facing issues related to medical device use, healthcare data collection, or genomics editing — each of which requires specialized knowledge and experience to properly litigate.
As noted by Special Counsel, firms are also developing micro-niches in areas such as drone technology, elder financial abuse, and marijuana law to ensure that they have the depth of services and proficiency clients demand. Put simply, generalized knowledge doesn't translate to expert recognition. Clients want problems solved by someone who knows exactly what they're doing and has the knowledge to secure positive outcomes.
The bottom line for law firms is that specialization now plays a critical role in securing and retaining long-term clients. Firms must also demonstrate a level of effortless tech-savviness that matches that of their clients.
The Tech Expectation
Micro-niches also extend to technology. Today's firms need lawyers with deep-dive knowledge about tech — including creating secure e-documents, ensuring that electronic media is properly stored and regularly audited, and understanding the ramifications of cyber harassment and online information sharing — in order to stay competitive and meet the needs of their clients.
Indeed, the general expectation that overlays the need for micro-niches is that all lawyers, no matter their area of expertise, must be able to confidently leverage current technologies. Think of it like another type of basic credentialing: Ten years ago, clients might have searched for law firms online to evaluate claims about win-loss ratio and industry reputation. Today, clients want lawyers who communicate readily by phone or email, can easily link secure documents for signing or processing, and are familiar with basic applications of technology in the courtroom. Clients now assume that lawyers know the law — they need to be convinced that firms understand technology.
Embracing UCaaS Solutions
So what's the use case for UCaaS solutions? These tools effectively combine multiple communication channels under one technological umbrella. Here are a few of the benefits of unified communications for law firms:
- Easy connection. Law firms don't communicate across a single channel. Lawyers hold in-person meetings with clients, then follow up with emails and SMS messages. Video chats may be required to reach experts halfway across the globe. Unified communications for law firms enables lawyers to communicate how they want, when they want, and without the need for bespoke setups at each individual contact point.
- Increased availability. Lawyers can be more available to their clients thanks to convenient mobile UCaaS apps. By turning their smartphones into an extension of their office phone systems, lawyers can maintain a professional business presence whether they're on the train home or waiting at the doctor's office.
- Easier prioritization. It's not uncommon for a lawyer to see a call come in while they're already on the phone. With visual voicemail capability, lawyers can quickly scan text transcripts of incoming voicemail messages so that they can prioritize the most important calls for follow-up.
- Greater productivity. Law firms that integrate their UCaaS solution with practice management tools such as Clio can enjoy a significant productivity boost. All inbound and outbound calls are automatically logged, making it easier to track billable hours and ensure steady revenue for the firm. Lawyers, freed from having to manually track their calls, can focus on delivering excellent service to their clients.
- Simple handling. One of the biggest headaches for any organization is managing communication channels when needs suddenly change or connection issues emerge. The right UCaaS platform ensures that video calls can be changed to audio connections if latency or traffic problems emerge.
- Adaptable options. Lawyers are required to handle sensitive information divulged by clients in face-to-face meetings, and there's no faster way to damage client relations than with constant interruptions from mobile devices about emails, calls, and SMS messages. UCaaS solutions allow lawyers to set up do-not-disturb and message-forwarding options to ensure that they're getting the data they need without losing focus. For example, incoming emails can be converted to voice messages, enabling lawyers to access critical information even if local internet connections aren't reliable.
- Improved collaboration. Great law firms thrive on collaboration. While micro-niches are distinct, each one benefits from interaction with nearby experts who can offer insight about process, expected outcomes, or similar cases. UCaaS lets lawyers across the hall — or the country — easily collaborate by sending messages, documents, and multimedia files for review and modification.
The bottom line for law firms is that specialization now plays a critical role in securing and retaining long-term clients. Firms must also demonstrate a level of effortless tech-savviness that matches that of their clients. Lawyers tasked with carving out an area of expertise don't have time to fight with communications technology that doesn't facilitate ease of connection, channel handling, and collaboration. In the age of micro-niches, specificity is the necessary outcome — and UCaaS empowers the transition.