Can Live Chat and Chatbots Boost your Law Firm's Online Marketing?

Last Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Can Live Chat and Chatbots Boost your Law Firm's Online Marketing? image

Chatbots and live chat for lawyers

It is not easy to be a lawyer. Being a great lawyer necessitates careful management, patience, and dedication, from accepting new clients to juggling open legal cases and keeping up with administrative work. The good news is that chatbots for lawyers can assist with various facets of a lawyer's daily work life.

Chatbots are typically used as a filter before visitors reach a legal professional. A chatbot asks the user to answer a few questions in order to direct them to the appropriate person. However, legal chatbots can have more extensive functionality to serve your law firm.

Chatbots can respond to questions, automate manual tasks, book consultations, and more, in addition to being a client directory. 

Your law firm should seriously consider the benefits and drawbacks of live chat and chatbots for lawyers if you want to increase leads and improve the user experience of your website.

Conversational relationships are replacing transactional relationships, which were once the norm. Law firms are using live chat and chatbots to help them have those dialogues with prospective clients.

At Lawzana, we understand the importance of user experience in boosting lead generation, and we take pride in helping lawyers reach relevant audiences by providing a first-rate platform for users and members from around the world looking to connect with the right lawyer for them.

This article will explore how to make the most of chatbots and live chat for your law firm. Continue reading to explore more about the advantages and disadvantages of live chat and chatbots, in addition to sharing a selection of the most popular live chat strategies available to law firms.

Overview of chatbots and live chat for law firms

First, you should recognise that live chat and chatbots are not an alternative to speaking with a legal professional. When considering live chat or chatbots for your law firm, you are not looking to replace or alter the way you provide initial legal services to new clients, and neither are you looking to eliminate initial consultation discussions.

The primary goal of live chat and chatbots should be to obtain contact information from potential clients, such as a phone number, respond to their initial queries about your law firm, and schedule a consultation or meeting. Consider it an enhanced replacement for submitting a contact form, sending an email, or contacting your front-office staff.

Furthermore, consider your core fields of expertise and whether your typical client would benefit from live chat or chatbots. For example, if you handle sex crime cases, the sensitivity of your practice may necessitate only providing traditional phone screenings. As another illustration, if you typically work with elderly clients, they may tend to favour a phone call, making adding a chat solution unnecessary for your law firm. Of course, even if you include a chat solution, you should always ensure prospective clients can contact your firm via phone or a standard online contact form.

Identifying your client base's demographics and the distinctive sensitivities of your practice area are vital considerations when deciding whether to pursue a live chat or chatbot solution further. If you determine that these tools can still create value for your law firm's clients after this assessment, it is time to weigh additional advantages and disadvantages to see if live chat, chatbots or both simultaneously are a good match for your practice, as we will explore below.

Chatbots:

Chatbots for law firms are designed to be a time-saving automation platform that is hosted on a law firm website and is therefore available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chatbots can be simple or complex. However, all chatbots assist website visitors in finding information or directing them to the relevant person in your team. Chatbots send a summary of the visitor's questions as well as any additional information as they direct website visitors to the appropriate person, such as the user's contact details.

Live chat is becoming increasingly widespread on law firm websites. On the other hand, chatbots for lawyers can help create even more client-centred user experiences for prospective new clients by providing automated, instant responses. The need for chatbots arose from one of the drawbacks of live chat, as there may not be someone available to answer immediately and prospective clients visiting your law firm's website.  Clients demand live chat to be immediate. However, a legal professional may have been called away at a meeting or another urgent task. For example, a lawyer cannot answer website visitors' questions if they are with another client, in court, or addressing another pressing matter.  Chatbots for lawyers have the potential to address each of these challenges by being available to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Live chat:

Integrating live chat on your law firm's website enables your employees or a third-party company to interact with visitors in real time. A live chat necessitates having an actual staff member to ensure a personalised response to each query. While you can operate the live chat on your own, this may place a burden on your internal resources. There are specialist outsourcing companies who can handle this, depending on your region.

Benefits of live chat and chatbots for law firms

Live chat:

The advantages of live chat are directly related to human-to-human interaction. Rather than waiting to receive a response from a contact form or engaging with a bot that may or may not have precise information, live chat can provide immediate solutions. Rapidity inevitably enhances client service. When prospective clients are impressed with the response they have received, the likelihood that they will convert into paying clients increases, resulting in more casework for you and your legal team.

The most significant advantage of live chat for law firms is that it allows your firm to communicate directly via many consumers' preferred option of live chat, ensuring that a connection with a potentially large case does not slip through the net. Youth generations, such as gen Z and Gen Z clients, are far more likely to prefer to chat online as a first port of call rather than pick up the phone and reach out. Any marketplace today is all about meeting prospective clients wherever they are.  Other advantages of live chat include keeping a written account of a customer's questions and needs, which helps to avoid confusion or miscommunication.

Chatbots:

Lawyers no longer need to spend time replying to simple client questions with the effective use of legal chatbots. Lawyers can concentrate on accumulating more billable hours by automating these simple but time-consuming processes. Chatbots implemented adequately serve as the front desk staff for virtual legal firms. With law firm chatbots, lawyers no longer need to recruit a virtual assistant or commit a member of staff to reply to or filter website user inquiries.

A chatbot can do more than just answer questions. Law firms can programme chatbots to take client information and schedule legal consultations. Rather than a lawyer taking a prospective client's call and corresponding with them, a chatbot streamlines the client intake process. A law firm chatbot can automate the client onboarding process, making it more efficient and, subsequently, more profitable.

When faced with a legal issue, clients typically contact multiple law firms to determine the one which best fits their requirements. Chatbots help law firms distinguish themselves from the crowd by delivering timely responses. Additionally, with automated booking, clients can receive instant replies rather than waiting for an actual staff member to follow up.

Along with being the first point of contact with prospective clients, chatbots can deliver a comprehensive, integrated, client-centred experience. Additionally, law firm chatbots can save data on returning clients. Chatbots can also be programmed to provide rapid case updates, reply to case-related FAQs, and schedule follow-up appointments. Chatbots can provide clients with more flexibility in this manner, resulting in a genuinely client-centred interaction.

Chatbots and live chat for law firms: challenges and opportunities

Chatbots:

Chatbots, like any other type of technology, face some obstacles. As previously stated, chatbots have the capacity to offer immediate answers to prospective clients' questions; however, these are generally limited to frequently asked questions. If a website user poses a question not covered by the pre-existing programmed paths, the user may exit the site without interacting. There is also the possibility of misunderstanding if a user makes grammar or spelling typos. This is among the reasons why it is frequently advised to employ only multiple-choice selections.

When utilising chatbots for law firm websites, your firm must be informed of some ethical considerations, similar to any new technology that stores client information. Except if you develop and host your own chatbot, law firms must do everything possible to protect the input and output database systems of a chatbot.

Clients must be assured that the questions they ask and the details they disclose to your law firm chatbot will be kept confidential and safe. Prior to a chatbot collecting client data, law firms must inform clients how the data will be used.

Live chat:

It's easy to see why live chat is an obvious choice for retailers selling clothing or home goods. However, conversations in the legal industry are more intricate, and there are rarely straightforward answers. This is one of the reasons why so far, only some law firms have embraced live chat. If you employ live chat, keep in mind that it should add value and provide users with actionable takeaways. Live chat should not be used to provide legal advice, but it can help you filter leads to evaluate when to provide helpful, customised information and when to set up a phone call with one of your lawyers. You can also assist existing clients who are experiencing a technical problem or a firm-specific admin issue, such as a payment question.

The most difficult challenge for law firms with live chat is making sure that they have sufficient team members to manage and control chat conversations. While a single employee can handle several conversations simultaneously, you must allocate enough staff members to interact with all prospective clients throughout the day. You must also decide how many hours per day you intend to provide live chat, as you may discover that you received the most inquiries when you did not plan to operate the live chat. If no one is available to chat when prospective clients submit inquiries, they will most likely look elsewhere for answers.

Chatbot usage examples for law firms

You can customise chatbots to be highly complex or handle simple, manual processes based on the kind of chatbot you have and the method you use it. Some chatbots include built-in artificial intelligence (AI), allowing them to acquire knowledge as they engage with more users. Here are some  illustrations of what chatbots can do for law firms:

The most common use of a chatbot for lawyers is to answer questions. Most chatbots can answer straightforward yes or no questions and have some FAQs built in. Basic keyword detection workflows are used in such built-in FAQs. For instance, if a query includes the phrase "what are your areas of legal expertise", the chatbot will respond by listing all the areas of legal expertise your law firm covers. Other sophisticated chatbots built with AI, on the other hand, can manage far more complex questions.

For lawyers, chatbots can replace a client screening or intake form. A chatbot can enhance the client intake process by making it more interactive. A prospective client, for example, can request clarification on specific questions.

Every chatbot includes keyword detection as a standard feature. Chatbots with this feature make sifting through dozens of pages of dialogue archives, transcripts, and other data much simpler and quicker. Lawyers can then locate what they need and conduct legal research in a more efficient manner.

Manually developing contracts and other legal documents from templates are laborious and time-consuming for legal professionals. Legal chatbots save lawyers time by automating and generating contracts, NDAs, as well as other different kinds of legal documentation through the use of keyword detection.

In the legal profession, not all time is equal, such as billable as opposed to non-billable hours. Lawyers can use legal chatbots as a time-tracking tool to help them track their utilisation rates and see how much time they are allocating to non-billable tasks.

Due diligence is particularly monotonous and time-consuming for law firms when confirming the facts and figures in a case. Advanced chatbots for lawyers with AI assist in automating and speeding this procedure by analysing large numbers of documents at one time and generating key summaries for legal professionals.

Summary

Live chat and chatbots may not be marketing and technological solutions for all lawyers. They can, however, improve a law firm's website and provide a strategic advantage for some firms.

Previously, lawyers had to sit down and navigate their way through arduous documentation while addressing the same questions over and over. Lawyers can now focus on serving their clients as it is what matters most. Thanks to the emergence of new advanced technologies such as chatbots, these tools can help automate and streamline law firms' workflows.

Advanced AI chatbots for lawyers are best suited for firms that generate a high volume of web traffic or frequently receive queries to commonly asked questions. By automating and assigning tasks to the chatbot that are repetitive or manual, this type of advanced chatbot will free up your law firm's staff time.

A chatbot programmed to schedule consultations and reply to simple questions outside office hours will be most beneficial for smaller law firms or solo legal practitioners. Even if you are a solo lawyer with no website, a Facebook messenger chatbot can assist you in answering questions on your social media page.

As technology advances, both live chat and bots will likely evolve significantly. However, this does not preclude you from profiting from the advantages of both now. The information provided above may help you determine which option is most suitable for your law firm, or you may combine the two to see which best aligns with your objectives. Regardless of which option you choose, the benefits of evolving your law firm website outweigh the challenges.

If your law firm incorporates live chat or chatbots on your website, ensure they coordinate with your overarching law firm marketing strategy. Understand when to use them and when not to, and be able to quantify their effectiveness and impact on return on investment (ROI). Concentrate on the user experience and ease of use with both live chat and chatbots, and ensure that every aspect of your law firm's marketing plan is interrelated to achieve the best overall outcome.

If you have any questions related to law firm marketing or website management, do not hesitate to contact our expert team at info@lawzana.com