In this exclusive video, Tom Martin, CEO of LawDroid, discusses chatbots for lawyers, intelligent automation, the importance of providing immediate  – and highly relevant – responses to potential clients, and working remotely with the CEO of Divorce Marketing Group, Dan Couvrette.

My name is Dan Couvrette. I’m the publisher of Family Lawyer Magazine and the CEO of Divorce Marketing Group. Family Lawyer Magazine provides information and resources to family law practitioners to help them in their practice. Divorce Marketing Group builds websites and offers newsletters, podcasts, videos, and social media marketing just for family lawyers. I’m mentioning that upfront because the person I’m talking with today is also in the business of helping lawyers be more efficient and more effective, but he’s also in the business of helping them acquire and secure clients. So we share similarities in that.

My guest today is Tom Martin, the CEO of LawDroid. LawDroid is a firm that provides chatbots for lawyers, not just family lawyers, and we’re going to talk a bit about that. We’re also going to talk a bit about working remotely, because Tom has been working remotely since 2006, which is way ahead of the curve. So based on working remotely and having been doing so for four or five months, I’m sure there’s a lot that we could learn from Tom. I’m going to talk a little bit about that, and also about his LawDroid app for websites and any other insights that he can share with us that would help you as a family lawyer in your practice.

Thank you for joining me, Tom, and welcome to this webinar!

Tom Martin: Thank you so much for having me on.

Dan: Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? I forgot to mention that you’re also a lawyer. Tell us a little bit about your journey of how you went from being a typical lawyer working out of an office, to a lawyer who is working remotely with the three or four other lawyers.

I’d be happy to. I was licensed back in ’98. So it’s been about 22 years now that I’ve been practicing law. I’ve always been interested in technology. As a kid, about five or six years old, I was introduced to the Apple II and I loved it. I was always finding ways of introducing technology into everything that I was doing. When I became a lawyer, I started using tech to make my life and job easier. Once I had founded my own law firm back in 2006, it was important for me to be able to do things on my own time – and on the time of the attorneys – so that it wasn’t necessary to have an office. There was also some great cost savings involved with that. I’m sure a lot of people right now are looking at working remotely as a way of saving some costs in terms of overhead for an office space, and whether or not it’s really necessary at this point to have a physical office. So much of what we do is information-based and paper-based; those pieces of paper can be made into PDFs and electronic files and shared with our clients. It’s a very liberating way of practicing law.

Do you think it was easier back in 2006 when you did this, or do you think it would be easier for somebody to do now?

It’s so much easier now. There are so many solutions that just work off the shelf and out of the box. You don’t even need to look into a physical box: you could just subscribe to these pieces of software online. You can even subscribe to these web applications where you get generous free trial periods and you can test it out to see if you like it: from saving your files to case management systems to Voice over IP – everything you could think of has a solution right now. It’s a very exciting time.

I noticed on your website right now, if somebody goes to www.LawDroid.com, there’s a video you produced that talks about office efficiency. I recommend that people go and have a look at that video. There are some great recommendations about different products, like Clio, and how they can be used in your practice to make you more efficient, and also how to better connect with your team if they’re working remotely right now.

Yes, thank you for that. Early on in this COVID crisis – I think it was at the end of March or beginning of April – I put that video together because I knew that other lawyers would be looking for pointers or guidance about what to do now. I talk a lot about different tools that they can use, and I also share my experience of how I went virtual and how they could use that to their advantage.

Let’s talk about your product for a moment and how you came up with your chatbot. But let’s go back even one more step, because some lawyers may not know what chat is. Can you describe what a chatbot is?

Chatbots for Lawyers: chatbot hovering above smartphoneA chatbot is where you could have an automated conversation with a computer system. It sounds a little abstract, but your audiences have probably interacted with it at some point: a widget on a website where you click on it – it might be their telephone company,  or any kind of service provider nowadays – and then you start having a conversation. Sometimes the chatbot is automated and it’s not an actual person on the other side. What matters really is that you get the result you want. A lot of the data that we’ve seen in terms of feedback about these systems is that people really just care that they get a solution.

When you say there are different ways to have a conversation – one of them is a bot, which is basically when somebody asks a question, and the answer is coming from a computer-generated program, and the other option is that they’re talking directly to a human being – how does that work?

There are many different ways of doing it. You could have a completely automated solution where the chatbot is recognizing questions and matching answers to those questions and serving up the answers. You can also pick your own adventure, where you pick one button that takes you down this path, you give a different answer and it goes down a different path, but there are also ways of integrating human agents into it. So if you hit a roadblock, you could have somebody live jump in and take over the conversation if they want.

What are the advantages that you see for each of the different models of chat?

I think the advantages really are just taking the burden off of lawyers and their staff, from a lot of that routine question answering. A lot of the clients that we’ve worked with get bombarded with the same questions over and over and over again. Regardless of them having an FAQ page on their website, they still get those questions.

People want immediate answers, but they don’t want to go looking around your website for them. They figure that the chat is going to give them an immediate response. Is that the feeling?

Yes, and there are statistics to back this up. I think 69% of consumers want immediate answers. Some of this we already know from experience. If there’s a problem with your cell phone, you want to get an answer right away. You don’t care if it’s a person or if it’s automated, just as long as you can get a solution. These types of solutions are being picked up by big businesses and everywhere else, and now it’s starting to filter down to lawyers.

One of the things I would mention, though, is that this kind of technology is not limited to just chatbots, which is maybe seen as kind of a narrow application. It also applies to phone calls. You could have a phone answering service that’s completely automated, and you could also use intelligent automation to be able to handle document creation in your practice. So there’s a multitude of different applications. Marketing is a good one to start with.

Chatbots for Lawyers: robot AI chatbotIf somebody called your office, and they had a question, rather than just leaving a message saying, “Hi, it’s John calling, call me back,” they would say “Hi, I’m John”, and the chatbot or answering serive would reply “Hi John, how can we help you today? what is your issue or your concern?” Then, John says, “I want to get a divorce,” the chatbot or service would ask more questions prompting John to elaborate…

Yes, you would be able to craft an intelligent conversation with that person based on their response to “How can I help you today?” and then take it down the path that is appropriate for that person. It won’t be perfect – I don’t want to oversell it. We’re not at that place in time yet. We’re not talking about human-level intelligence where we could have a conversation about anything under the sun, but it does help a good bit.

That’s the direction we’re going.

Right now, I advise that people don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good” – and right now, you can accomplish a lot of good with automation.

Tell us a little bit more about your program. How can people set it up and how flexible is it? What’s the process of getting it going?

With the marketing chatbot that you put on your website, it helps you capture more leads. It’s a pretty simple process. It basically allows for a number of specialized and personalized questions for your practice. We don’t treat all law offices the same. We know that lawyers are different. As a lawyer myself, I know that every lawyer in a law firm has their own preference about what questions they want to ask prospective clients. What we do is program in those custom questions, then ask the bread-and-butter ones, like “What’s your name?” and “What’s your phone number?” Once we capture that information, we could also integrate it with their case management system, if they have one. If not, we just send them an email or a text and they can get right in touch with that lead.

Is that all automated? It’s not somebody sending the email or text – it’s all generated by the program?

It’s all generated by the program, and it’s instantaneous. The best part is when it texts you the lead, because you could simply touch the phone number and immediately call that person. Time to response is one of the most critical factors.

What does the program cost?

Our entry product is a free 30-day trial, like most software service offerings, and then it rolls over to $50 a month. Our competitors, which have human agents doing this (and by the way, the human agents are saying, “What’s your name? What’s your phone number? We’ll have Laura call you back.”), are charging a lot more. They’re charging what we charge per lead.

So it’s $30 or $40 per lead, rather than per month?

Exactly. So there’s a huge cost savings to working with us. It’s predictable, it’s a flat fee, and you know what you’re getting into.

Is there an entry level that you think would benefit lawyers? Meaning, do they have to have 500 visitors a month to their website? Or what If they have 100 visitors a month to their website? Do you think they’ll still get a good result from having the chatbot on their site?

That’s a great question, and I’m always honest with the people that I’m going to work with. Lawyers have to look at their analytics. Number one, they have to be familiar with how many website visitors they have per month, because we can only work with what’s there. Let’s say a personal injury lawyer can only get paid a contingency on something that actually produces money. We need traffic on their website to produce that. So if they have at least, let’s say 100 to 200 unique visitors, we could work with that, but if they have less than that amount, they really need to work on either a Google Ads campaign or improving their SEO first.

We’ve managed websites for over 100 family lawyers, and I can’t think of any of them that have less than 100 visitors per month. The average goes anywhere from 250 to 2,000, depending on how active the websites are – but I’ve heard that  chat can improve the efficiency of their website.

The goal of getting somebody to your website is not only to get them engaged with you, but also to increase the chances of having a first initial consultation. Chat is an excellent way to connect with clients, and lawyers need to have their phone number visible and accessible. All these things matter, and if and if your chatbot can help, I’m going to be recommending that our clients give it a try. 

I know that quite a few lawyers are reluctant to try something new. Chat is not exactly new, but lawyers tend to not be the best early adopters when it comes to technology. Do you have anything to say to lawyers who have a concern that chatbots may not be for them?

I think that lawyers have nothing to lose within the first 30 days, because that’s a free trial. When it comes to more substantive concerns they have – like ethics, for example – this is really no different than chat that’s gone before. If they have any concerns about that, it’s private. We keep the information encrypted and it’s not made publicly available by any means or sold, so there aren’t any concerns there. With regard to the ethics rules, there is no sharing of information. We do our best to keep it confidential and private.

Tom, I want to thank you for your time today. If you want to get more information about chatbots for lawyers, you can reach out to Tom through his email, Tom@LawDroid.com, or visit his website at www.LawDroid.com.

If you want more information about contributing to Family Lawyer Magazine, please see contact me at DanC@DivorceMarketingGroup.com – and if you’re interested in our marketing services for family lawyers, I would love to speak with you. I do a half-hour consultation at no charge and will review your website and whatever else you have going. Tom, thanks again for your time and thank you to the folks who have joined us.

 


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