ReInvent Law: What’s love got to do with it?

About me: Long established profession seeking to shake off old persona, to improve relationships with clients and improve industry interaction with technology.

Statistics: 800 years old in 2015

Relationship status: It’s complicated

Relationship sought: Love, justice and truth

Favourite quote: “The spirit of justice and truth is the kind of attention that is pure love”

Looking for: Solutions to link clients with lawyers; for clients to be able to find lawyers who share their values and to create relationships. More satisfying, long lasting and profitable relationships between more likeminded lawyers and clients.

In my own words: Relationships are the foundation of the legal profession; the heart at the centre of the machine. Without clients there would be no lawyers, so it is not an exaggeration to suggest that achieving justice is in part about successful management of relationships.

At June’s ReInvent law conference, Dana Denis-Smith put forward the suggestion that the legal profession could stand to learn from the on-line dating industry.

Online dating is a $2bn industry. It is said that currently 33% of married couples met through online dating but it is predicted that by 2014 this statistic will have risen to as much as 70%. Online dating is big business and it is an industry which constantly has to provide a delicate balance between the needs of all parties involved without hurting profit margins. Rather like law.

Ask not what your client can do for you, but what you can do for your client. Or, what kind of client you’d like, or need. In a busy and increasingly tech savvy, global, world, lawyers need to sure that the clients’ criteria for finding and establishing a relationship is at the centre of their strategy for attracting new clients. Clients have a large pool of fish in which to search and lawyers need to be aware of that – whilst bearing in mind the kind of client they are trying to attract.

Lawyers should also be aware of where the kind of client they’d like to attract hangs out online. In becoming more tech aware, lawyers can target their search to ensure that they are allowing their potential clients to find them.  Clients focus on important challenges: keep headcount down; quality maintained; flexibility.

At the cynical business end though, perhaps what could really be learned from online dating is how successfully the industry has made money from matching two parties who already know that they are looking for each other; how carefully constructed the financial arrangement is to ensure that both parties have plenty of options and a reason to keep coming back.  Is the real lesson from online dating that it is possible to create a service which monetizes the match? A service which matches clients with lawyers, which leads to not only happy clients and paid lawyers but also a profitable middle man? As one Twitter user said “Tinder for lawyers?”

That said, the lawyer in me questions whether this would ever work – who would bear the risk if both client and lawyer were invested financially? How would it be regulated? Isn’t this the very relationship that has been sought to sever with the banning of referral fees? Perhaps instead we should focus on the idea of love and justice.

One last thought: As Dana concluded, the future is heart-shaped. Join the revolution and don’t be the last one on the shelf.

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