Future Law

Clio Legal Trends Report Reveals How Clients Want to Communicate With Attorneys

A guy talking online with clients via video callThis week, Clio, a provider of cloud-based legal technology, is holding its annual Clio Cloud 9 conference. The event has become one of the industry’s leading legal technology conferences and an opportunity to reflect on evolving consumer expectations in legal through the release of Clio’s Legal Trends Report.

Following the rapid adoption of technology by law firms in 2020, in which 85% of firms said they were using software to manage operations and 83% reported meeting with clients virtually, it appears that leveraging technology has become the norm. In fact, at least 95% of firms said they plan to continue using technology adopted during the pandemic when COVID-19 subsides.

COVID-19 has changed our communication infrastructure extensively. And today’s clients expect to interact with their attorneys through tech-enabled forms of communication, like video conferencing and client portals.

To meet the market demand, it’s time for lawyers to embrace a client-centric approach, adopting methods of communication that work best for clients rather than attorneys.

Clients want remote communication options

In 2018, only 23% of consumers were open to working with a lawyer remotely. Today, 79% of consumers say they look for remote options when hiring a lawyer, according to the most recent Legal Trends Report.

But clients aren’t only looking for remote options, they want both. In fact, 67% of clients said they’re looking for a lawyer who offers both remote and in-person options.

Clients' preferred remote communications graphic
Source: Clio 2021 Legal Trends Report

In 2018, no more than 4% of consumers preferred to communicate via video conferencing at any stage of a legal matter. In 2021, however, more than half of clients favor it.

Clients still opt for traditional forms of communication, like phone or in-person interactions, early in a legal matter and when communicating about key decisions. However, roughly 60% of clients said they prefer to receive quicker status updates via secure client portal or video conference.

Clients want convenient payment options

When making payments, clients want convenience. According to the Legal Trends Report, online payments (66%) were rated as the top payment option by clients, followed by automated payments (61%), and payments via mobile app (61%). Mailing a payment (47%) ranked low on the list.

Client preferences for making payments
Source: Clio 2021 Legal Trends Report

When viewing or sharing documents related to transactional interactions, 71% preferred in-person communication but electronic options also ranked high. Email (63%), secure client portals (60%), and online file-sharing services (56%) were also preferred by clients.

Takeaways for lawyers

The desire for tech-enabled communication will continue to grow, as Gen X (72%) and Millennials (69%) – many of whom may not have worked with a lawyer previously – have the highest preference for remote options.

So, how should lawyers prepare? The Legal Trends Report identifies three key takeaways for lawyers when planning for the future:

  1. Offer the means to work and communicate based on what clients are looking for. This means law firms must equip themselves with the tools to communicate in ways that clients want.
  2. Be proficient in using multiple communication formats. While law firms should offer clients multiple communication options, they must be mindful that this will increase the complexity and scope of conversations and the information being shared.
  3. Be prepared to communicate the value of remote options to clients. Clients are looking to their attorneys to design and recommend the ideal method for working together. Lawyers must be able to demonstrate the advantages of more efficient means of communication that will save time and increase flexibility.

The Clio Legal Trends Report uses a range of sources to deliver insights, including data from Clio’s platforms, a survey of 1,056 legal professionals and 1,002 consumers conducted in May and June 2021, a multi-year study of over 1,600 law firms, and interviews with legal professionals.

To read the full report, click here.

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