Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
Edited by Nick Holmes and Delia Venables
I see the jobs/recruitment arena as a clash between the expertise of specialist legal recruitment consultants, some of whom have been in the legal market for decades, and the “every job in the world” approach of the automatically generated sites, which hoover up jobs from all the other jobs sites and recruitment companies. The recruitment consultants will get to know you personally, whilst with the automatically generated sites, the candidate narrows the field by specifying the type of job required, the qualifications possessed by the candidate, the location of the job, the salary required, and so on, and is then provided with a filtered list of options.
This clash of cultures has been made more complicated by the widespread use of social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, to locate suitable jobs or (from the other side of the table) suitable candidates.
Many solicitors provide free legal information on their websites. Is this good marketing or just giving away valuable information?
I maintain a section on my website called Free Legal Information for Individuals provided by Firms of Solicitors at www.venables.co.uk/individtopics.htm. This covers accidents, benefits, business, car crime, consumer, conveyancing, crime, divorce, death (probate, wills etc), debt, dental claims, discrimination, disability, education, employment … and so on, listed alphabetically.
When I recently carried out a major check of these entries, I found that many previous free legal resources have been removed or seriously reduced in scope. It seems that many firms of solicitors, having originally been keen to be part of the new and exciting World Wide Web have eventually decided that it was not really worth the effort.
What a silly question, you may be thinking; everyone has to have a website these days. Well yes, everyone has to have to have the basic details of the organisation online, with contact details and something which looks nice. But beyond that?
For many years, I have had a section about the Bar on my own website, at www.venables.co.uk/bar.htm where I provide basic details of several hundred chambers who have told me about their website and given me some information about their organisation. I looked through these recently, to remove the ones no longer in existence, and asked the others to provide updates to their descriptions which many (not all) have done. At the same time, I looked at the websites and tried to work out what they are trying to do with their site.
It is probably easier for companies to sell legal services and documents online than it is for firms of solicitors. This may seem unfair, given that the ultimate product (eg a divorce or a conveyance) was originally created by lawyers to protect the client. How can it be that non-lawyers can do it better?
In an article that I wrote for the March/April issue of this Newsletter, I described four reasons why I thought it was hard for a firm of solicitors to provide these products or services online. I said that:
- These products are technically difficult, requiring sophisticated (and expensive) software to do the job online, and considerable ongoing technical support.
- They are inherently risky for the firm in professional terms. Errors or misunderstandings could lead to serious legal problems for the firm – hardly good advertising for the firm.
- The relatively “simple” processes offered for online solution are not in any case very profitable, so a great deal of effort could lead to a relatively modest reward.
- A cheap online divorce or conveyance (say) is likely to undermine the solicitors “normal” work. A client could well say “Why should I pay a large amount of money for a personally managed divorce when you can provide the same service online for a third of the cost?
About 10 years ago there was a strong feeling in the legal profession that selling legal services and documents online was going to be one of the big features of the future. I set up a section on my website for this topic at www.venables.co.uk/selling.htm with subdivisions for firms of solicitors doing this, companies doing this, and various other aspects of online activity including referral and marketing panels, and price and service comparison sites.
However, far from growing steadily, this first section in particular has struggled to add new firms and indeed, many of the firms originally doing this have now stopped doing so. There are now fewer than 20 firms that appear to be doing this and, in many of these cases, the services offered are very limited in scope and are certainly not the main means by which they are delivering their legal services.
Why has this aspect of legal services failed to grow?
A good website with lots of useful information is no longer enough; the site has to be “marketed”.
Over the last 10 or 15 years, a large number of digital marketing companies have sprung up, typically offering to design and implement an impressive website and provide it with the key factors which will encourage the viewer to make contact and, hopefully, to become a client. These companies offer some of the following:
In the last issue of this Newsletter, I wrote an article on the main suppliers of cloud based software for lawyers. I described the suppliers who have developed software for the cloud, from the ground up (no pun intended), with no option for in-house use; there were about 30 suppliers, and their offerings, described in that article.
This covered many of the newer suppliers who have seen an opportunity for developing easy-to-use legal software in the cloud, particularly for smaller users, as well as some of the older, and well established suppliers who have developed a completely new software system for cloud use.
- Not much more time for barristers to complete their 2017 CPD
- Why your firm needs a modern document management system
- Legal Web Watch December 2017: What is a "legal engineer"?
- Delia’s legal web picks December 2017
- Technology and access to justice: the end of the beginning?
- Legal jobs and recruitment online
- A GDPR impact assessment for websites
- Artificial intelligence in law in perspective
- Online publishing news
- HMCTS reform update
- Latest articles feed
- PDFs of the Newsletter
- Legal Web Watch