Legal tech: How To Gain The World Without Losing Your Soul

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Business-to-business. Business-to-consumer. Soul-to-Soul.

Two of these are well-known business models.

But what about the third?

Soul-to-Soul is a British R&B group formed in the late 80s. Maybe they came to mind given how most of us are eagerly waiting for the day when we can finally get “back to life, back to reality”.

Perhaps though, ‘soul-to-soul’ could also be used to describe a fundamental component of legal practice – those personal one-to-one interactions that (in my view at least) are still so crucial to good lawyering.

Tone, timing and tailoring can affect the impact and outcome of legal advice as much as the content itself. And those elements require ‘soul’ or – at least – a human touch.

And yet…I work for a legal tech company.

Often, this involves me suggesting to lawyers that they should replace certain interactions with technology…

🚪 Receiving instructions by phone? Or via one-to-one emails? Consider implementing a digital ‘front door’ to streamline the submission of new requests.

🖱️ Meeting with your team in order to allocate work? Use tech to do it in one click.

💻 Clients or colleagues calling you to ask for high-level updates or templates? Give them access to a personalised dashboard instead.

The lawyers I have these conversations with aren’t always immediately 100% comfortable with these suggestions.

They are (sensibly) cautious about losing the human touch.

However, not all personal interactions are made equal.

In the examples mentioned above, the interactions are essentially transactional in nature. The primary goal is simply to transfer information from one party to another.

In most such cases, efficiency, accuracy and trackability are the most important factors and are far more achievable through the adoption of a structured, tech-enabled approach versus a fragmented, multi-channel approach primarily driven by personal relationships.

Additionally (and perhaps counterintuitively at first) removing the personal element from certain interactions can actually be the best way to protect and improve the underlying relationship.

Take the list of examples given above – the ‘personal’ approach demands time of both the lawyers and their clients/colleagues and also increases the risk of misunderstandings and/or avoidable delays (e.g. unclear instructions, missed emails/calls, using out-of-date templates etc). In such cases, leaning on tech frees up time and reduces stress for all concerned.

⚽ And here’s the kicker – having saved the time and energy that would otherwise have been spent on needless and potentially frustrating interactions in relation to administrative/transactional issues, there is more capacity available for the many conversations and other interactions that genuinely need and benefit from the ‘soul to soul’ approach.

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