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Video conferencing calls – love or loath them, what are the hidden benefits for solicitors?

By Legal Futures’ Associates inCase [1]


Alongside the rising fear of the pandemic, the year 2020 has seen a meteoric rise of the video conference meeting – not only as a business obligation but also as a social necessity. Much has been written about the downsides, but hold up – are there any opportunities or hidden advantages for law firms and most importantly, clients?

The legal sector can benefit significantly from video conferencing because lawyers rely on face-to-face consultations and meetings to progress cases, correspond with clients and grow their practices, which Covid-19 has made far from easy. Video conferencing, even ‘post-pandemic’ enables legal professionals to do all of these things conveniently, thereby boosting productivity and efficiency.

According to the Online Nation Report revealed by OFCOM [2] in June 2020, more than 7 in 10 adults now make video calls weekly, that’s a sharp rise from 52% to 70% during lockdown, indicating that it’s not only people in business that feel comfortable in front of the camera – the vast majority of the population do too. This communication method is now a staple in the nation’s consciousness.

In this article we explore the nuances and benefits of virtual conferencing that can significantly benefit lawyer-client relationships going into 2021.

Multi-generational reach

The trend is particularly noticeable in older internet users, aged 65 and over. OFCOM reported that in February 2020, 22% of this age group were making at least one video-call each week, however, by May 2020 this had risen to 61%.

When the lockdown began and working from home was thrust upon solicitors and other office workers, virtual meetings were forced upon many of us – whether we liked it or not. Not only did everyone need to get to grips with new technology quickly, but they dealt with a whole host of other emotions – colleagues’ judgement of their homes and just-out-of-bed appearance and attempting to stay calm whilst handling domestic disruptions.

Many of those – formerly panic stricken – people subsequently helped family members to join the video conference tech wave. Hence, on the whole, the virtual meeting has been introduced to those multi-generational family members in a more palatable way, as the technology provided a novel and practical way to keep in touch with loved ones.

The new normal paradigm

As virtual meetings have been eased-into everyday life, and working from home for many people continues, making video calls will certainly become an essential part of ‘the new normal’ offering to clients.

Even if the vaccine is hailed a great success with face-to-face meetings back on the table, there are still many good reasons to invest and continue video conferencing, which will leave a legacy well after the Covid-19 era.

Leaving aside technical issues, there are many circumstances for solicitors where using a virtual meeting can be useful and achieve better results than an email, phone call or letter. So can solicitors leverage the benefits of this technology, which is now in so many people’s homes?

Being a solicitor means understanding psychology and being a strategist too. Having a veritable arsenal of communication methods can be a blessing – if you choose the right option for the task at hand. When stakes are high and emotions are raw, seeing and interacting with a real person with a sympathetic and caring demeanour,  may truly help to ease your client’s fears or help find a resolution faster.

Here are a selection of practice areas where it can make a real practical difference:

An opportunity to read complex emotions / body language in Family and Private Clients

Body language and facial expressions will invariably reveal a host of other messages that solicitors can read subconsciously, an insight they may not have been privy too if the alternative was a phone call.

More agile than face-to-face in Corporate & Commercial transactions

Quick and effective communication can make all the difference to a client’s perception of the way a matter is handled.

Litigation teams to nip those misconceptions in the bud early

For litigation clients, such as in personal injury, video conferencing lends itself particularly well to the complex nature and veritable confusion that accompanies cases.

Managing expectations in Residential Property matters

For residential property cases, where much of the work is transactional, one could presume that there’s not much need for a virtual meeting. However, how many of your conveyancing clients complain about a breakdown in communication or that their solicitor didn’t seem to care? For many clients, buying or selling can be a very emotional affair.

In relation to video conferencing for a residential property team, Dave Briggs, Marketing Manager from Nash and Co Solicitors based in Plymouth, commented that having this facility within the inCase mobile app, will:

“definitely help break down some barriers that people have when coming to a law firm.”

Expanding the mediums available to offer video conferencing for greater client care is certainly a win-win for solicitors and clients alike.

Crucially, the potential for greater client satisfaction is there, not just because clients get to know their solicitor but also because the solicitor will get to know their clients on a more personal level. The video conference will aid the development of those all- important human connections that are greatly improved by seeing a familiar face and finding common ground.

Firmwide cross-selling opportunities

Law firms along with many others, have conventionally been aware of the 80/20 rule, where 80% of their work comes from 20% of their clients and to that end, have strived to cross-sell to other areas of law whenever the chance arises. However, there are issues with effective methods of doing this in the right way and relying on colleagues to get back to clients in a timely manner.

Virtual meetings provide an innovative way to bring in a colleague from another team, to give a short insightful view on an issue, which will undoubtedly increase the chance of not losing the lead, helping with cross-selling targets. Those firms that see new opportunities and adapt quickly may find that there are advantages to be had by putting in extra effort with valued clients.

Good practice for solicitors for successful virtual meetings

For legal firms that make video conferencing part of their service offering and encourage meetings to be conducted in this way, it’s essential to consider:

Choose video conferencing wisely

Security concerns

It should go without saying that firms of all sizes must have robust IT policies and procedures in place to protect staff and clients, particularly their personal and sensitive data discussed on video calls.  We would recommend seeking professional guidance if you do not have in-house resource.

As a minimum, consideration needs to be made regarding which video conferencing you choose; how the devices that use that platform are secured (including passwords); and if you make recordings of any video calls, where those recordings are stored and how you use those recordings needs to fall part of your data protection policies and procedures.

Advise clients in a suitable manner

It would be easy to confuse clients with a list of disclaimers for video conferencing, but making instructions easy to follow rather than intimidating will help to take some fear out of the equation.

Train solicitors on the technicalities and the nuances

Video conferencing is established as environmentally friendly, significantly reducing expenses and travel time, whilst increasing billable time per solicitor per day. It’s invariably a win for law firm’s targets and turnover.

Whilst letters, phone calls and emails have dominated solicitor’s communication for decades, the arrival of the video conference also looks set to stay. Despite some of the limitations of video conferencing, if used in the right context, they can be a compelling tool to increase solicitor efficiency and improve overall client trust and satisfaction, which will in turn affect not only client reviews if your service improves, but the bottom line too.