Like many industries that deal with heavy regulations and highly sensitive information, the legal industry has been traditionally resistant to innovation; putting time and money into new technology can be seen as an unnecessary risk over continuing with processes and systems proven to work. Despite this, the shape of the industry is changing: start-ups and online firms are disrupting the market, and consulting firms are even beginning to push into the space. With an influx of new entrants able to provide faster, cheaper results, traditional legal firms need to be able to adapt and evolve to keep up with their competitors.
Technology is, of course, at the heart of many of these innovations. When managed well, tools such as automation or chatbots can not only provide customers with a better experience but increase productivity for legal staff, minimising their role in repetitive manual tasks and allowing them to focus on higher value work. There’s significant demand for legal innovation from customers, too. With technology ingrained in all parts of our lives, customers expect the convenience of online systems that allow them to access legal services on their own schedule. “The fact is,” says Richard Johns, Business Development Manager at digital business consultancy DB Results, “if you’re not offering that service online, there are a multitude of competitors who are.”
Maurice Blackburn’s MyLife Wills platform is one such innovation, demonstrating how law firms can incorporate the convenience of automation into their existing processes. Maurice Blackburn identified the market need for a cost-effective, easy-to-use Will service to support the approximately half of Australian adults who do not have one. Affordable Wills are typically either DIY Will instruction kits or online forms, which lack the personalisation and flexibility that expert legal input provides, and can even pose risks to the client. Establishing a Will through a law firm, on the other hand, is perceived to be a complicated and time-consuming process.
The MyLife Wills platform provides a unique approach to estate planning that balances the convenience of automation with the legal rigour of a traditional, manual process. Using a simple online portal, customers are able to follow a self-serve process to input the bulk of their information. Once submitted, a Maurice Blackburn lawyer will review and consult with the customer to answer any queries and finalise the Will. The online portal is seamlessly integrated with Maurice Blackburn’s core systems and workflow and is supported by an internal administration portal and a business rules tool to ensure the system is robust. Moving a large portion of the process online saves time for both the customer and the legal team and allows them to tailor the consultation to the customer’s needs.
Since the platform’s launch in early 2020, Maurice Blackburn has already seen results. The firm has reported increased traffic to its Wills business with the addition of MyLife Wills, with better conversion rates. Crucially, the online platform has seen increased uptake from 25–40-year-olds, in addition to the traditionally older demographic.
It’s clear that user experience must sit at the heart of innovation. “User experience is at the core of all the solutions we build,” says Richard Johns, and explains that by focusing on the end user experience, it ensures that companies are solving the right problem for their customers.
Maurice Blackburn was able to bring their vision for a more efficient, user-friendly Wills process to life in just six weeks with the assistance of DB Results and the OutSystems low-code platform. “I think there’s a preconception that any kind of transformation is going to be difficult, require a lot of skills, require a lot of technology,” says James Harrison, Solution Architect at OutSystems. “But there are platforms out there now that really automate most of the process, and you can focus much more on delivering great experiences in the actual solution rather than the technology behind it.” DB Results were able to apply their knowledge from other industries, together with their expertise in the OutSystems platform, to build a solution that both met Maurice Blackburn’s immediate need and allows the flexibility for new features and changes in the future. With a solid understanding of their customers and the right partners, innovation can be fast, easy and futureproof – which means a better result for everyone.