How Traditional Views on Legal Complexity Intimidate Clients

The legal world is changing fast with technology, but the shift to digital services by law firms hasn't made clients equally eager to use them. In other words, even though law firms are going digital, clients aren't always interested in using those digital services. Based on the many conversations we’ve had with Scandinavian lawyers and research we’ve done under this topic, several key factors hindering public adoption of legal technology (legaltech) have been identified.  

One prominent factor is the traditional mindset, mostly noticed within demographics less familiar with technology. That being said, it’s essential to note that this traditionalist mindset doesn't solely result from a lack of tech savviness or age but may also stem from the publics preconceived notions about the complexity of the legal system.  

How traditional mindsets about technology can reduce digital legal service adoption

As mentioned above, one of the primary reasons for a traditionalist mindset is the lack of tech savviness, and it is worth noting that this traditional mindset about technology is something that will differ based on the generational gap. For example, younger generations embrace new tech, making them more tech savvy than some of the more traditional generations that refuse to use technology. This is something that can viewed across several types of new technologies, including but not limited to AI. For example, there is growing concern among certain generations that using technologies such as AI in any way in the legal industry can lead to discriminatory biases, as the algorithm that supports the AI could develop biases based on the information that is initially fed into the technology.  

Regarding tech savviness, the public may understandably be hesitant to entrust their legal processes to technology they lack in-depth knowledge about. This is supported by research commissioned by the Legal Services Board and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority in 2022, revealing a general willingness to adopt well-established and familiar legal technologies like video consultations (66%) and e-signatures (68%). In contrast, there is less enthusiasm for unfamiliar forms of legal technology, such as smart contracts (45%) and AI-driven tools like chatbots (39%). In addition to the familiarity issue, those less tech-savvy express heavy concerns about privacy, the cost of device upgrades, and the potential loss of human touch.

We believe that it is crucial for law firms to address the valid concerns of the public in understanding manner, so as not to shun this part of society. This can be achieved by promoting learning among individuals less comfortable with technology, enhancing the adaptability of legaltech through third-party solutions such as Genius Scan and Typeform, or serving as a resource hub to guide non-tech-savvy clients in using LegalTech effectively. The goal of these types of approaches would be to promote the LegalTech products among these demographics by increasing its usability.  

The fact that an increase in usability can increase tech adoption is a concept that aligns with Dr BJ Fogg’s Behavioural Model, which is a model that is used to explain how motivation, triggers and ability can result in certain behaviours. It states that a user is likely to be more motivated to respond to “triggers” and perform a certain task if the task is easier to perform. This goes to show that law firms should focus on building legaltech that is very simple. In addition to this we think it's wise to consider generational perspectives when designing legal technology. We believe tailoring these technologies to different age groups will make them more comfortable and user-friendly for everyone.

How industry intimidation can affect LegalTech adoption

In addition to a lack a tech savviness, is our belief that the public may be hesitant to embrace legaltech due to traditionalist views of the legal industry. In other words, individuals may feel intimidated by the complexity of the legal industry and the repercussions of legal mistakes, which can make them feel more reluctant to pursue more innovative or modern legaltech solutions. This factor isn’t entirely removed from the situation of not understanding certain technologies mentioned above in the sense that clients may fear or mistrust the technology, and because of the high complexity and overwhelming repercussions involved in the legal industry, they may feel less inclined to use the technology.  

The research commissioned by the Legal Services Board and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority supports this notion, stating that due to this intimidation factor, clients prefer face-to-face interactions with lawyers, as it instils a greater sense of trust from the client's perspective. This often leads to a reduced rate of legal tech adoption, particularly concerning technologies like smart contracts that eliminate or reduce the client-facing aspect of the legal profession. In situations like these, we believe that customer segmentation comes into play. For example, a law firm can segment their target market for an innovative law tech product based on the target markets age. Following this, the law firm could promote the legaltech product for the younger segments. If this strategy works for the law firm, the law firm could attract older segments by using the success stories of the other segments. Additionally, we advocate ensuring that clients have the option of meeting or e-meeting with a lawyer so that change management can be implemented to ensure that user experiences are not disrupted beyond repair. This approach helps prevent any client from feeling pressured into something they are not ready for yet.  

In conclusion, addressing the traditionalist mindset requires acknowledging both the lack of tech savviness and the intimidation factor associated with the legal industry. By offering education, enhancing adaptability, and providing accessible options for client interactions, law firms can navigate these challenges and foster a more inclusive adoption of legal technology.