Posted by Adam Bullion, general manager of marketing at Legal Futures Associate InfoTrack
In July, the Lord Chancellor, David Gauke, announced the creation of a panel of industry experts to support and accelerate the development and adoption of innovative legal technologies. Similarly, Stephen Ward, director of strategy and external relations at the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, has also written recently about how much the market needs disruptors.
This suggests to me that there is now more acceptance that, whilst various industries have flourished under the possibilities that technology brings, others have taken longer to adopt – such as the legal market.
Looking back, the legal sector has not had a smooth run when it comes to the promise of new technology. The problem is that the technology has never arrived, making the sector sceptical and adverse to taking risks on new entrants. This sees conveyancers and property solicitors sticking to their traditional methods of working, leaving the process lacking any evolution.
Solicitors in this area are often comfortable relying on software that they know, potentially unaware that there may be a better solution out there.
However, there are certainly firms where the tech-savviness varies. One firm may know the latest technology inside out, while another 20 might be using older methods for their day-to-day tasks. When it comes to any new technology implementation, guidance is always going to be needed to help adoption and smooth integration of that technology into workflows.
The proptech revolution
Change is coming, in many ways. What firms should know is that the UK property industry is on the brink of a technological revolution. This is across all aspects of property, from online only estate agents, to how forms are completed, to virtual tours of properties.
Proptech is changing the (deeply ingrained) ways we handle buying and selling properties the perspective of all parties. This is particularly evident behind the scenes within areas such as conveyancing.
Presently, there is a lot of uncertainty in the property market. The last few years have been an unpredictable time with forecasts changing from optimistic to the polar opposite within what feels like a blink of an eye.
During an unsettled period, firms don’t have the luxury of time on their hands, customers expect results quickly and potentially, having been burnt by promises of tech in the past that never quite delivered.
This has prevented them from seeing the rewards of great tech. It is also important to be aware of the changes in consumer habits – customers now have the ability to shop around online.
As our Home Moving in the Age of the Consumer report found, traditionally only a minority of home movers (24%) took the time to get more than one quote before choosing a property solicitor or conveyancer. That number has now risen to 59% taking two or more quotes.
With many websites offering conveyancing quotes online now, home movers are spoilt for choice, and it is likely that number could continue to rise.
Online comes first
The age demographics of home movers also play a pivotal role in choosing where they take their business. For 23% of 18-24s, offering online conveyancing is a key factor in choosing a firm (compared to just 8% of respondents overall).
However, it is not only the provision of online quoting that needs attention in the property sector; the research also found that 30% said they chose a firm on whether they provide an online service to access the documentation related to the transaction.
Clients are increasingly demanding a premium customer service focus, and technology in legal now means that modernising is about thriving more than it is surviving.
For this reason, firms dealing in property law need to ensure they are aware of modern client expectations and look at how new technology can be used to service them better and streamline processes for their own staff.
In an industry where every minute counts, being able to utilise online tools to streamline workflows and client interaction, literally gives practitioners back their time.
With an increasingly competitive market whereby conveyancing and law firms are vying for those home mover transactions, it is important to stay on the leading edge. Technology is fast becoming a huge differentiator in the legal and conveyancing industries, and clients are taking note.