The legal industry isn’t known for being the most progressive when it comes to adopting new technology. Yet, (slowly but surely) lawyers are realizing that wielding the right legal tech can lead to improved productivity and client satisfaction.
In this episode of “Spill the Ink,” Michelle Calcote King interviews Daniel Steinberg, the co-founder and CEO of Lawbrokr, about how to best leverage technology in the legal space. They cover a wide range of topics, including the state of the legal tech industry, ChatGPT and emerging technologies. They also discuss how Lawbrokr’s platform enhances marketing departments and why firms should integrate tools that help pre-qualify prospective clients.
Here's a glimpse of what you'll learn
The creation of Lawbrokr and how the platform works
Why investing in technology enhances marketing initiatives and business operations
What the state and future of the legal tech industry look like
How technology can be leveraged to make lawyers better at their jobs
About our featured guest
Daniel Steinberg is the co-founder and CEO of Lawbrokr™, a pre-qualification platform that helps lawyers humanize the ways clients interact with their law firm. In his role, he leverages his background in professional services (ex-EY), marketing technology (ex-Influitive) and legal technology (ex-Clio).
Lawbrokr is a sales and marketing platform for law firms. Focused on building software to support how law firms pre-qualify leads, Lawbrokr augments a law firm’s online presence and captures more data through frictionless workflows that guide the consumer through the legal services of the law firm.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Sponsor for this episode
This episode is brought to you by Reputation Ink.
Founded by Michelle Calcote King, Reputation Ink is a public relations and content marketing agency that serves professional services firms of all shapes and sizes across the United States, including corporate law firms and architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms.
Reputation Ink understands how sophisticated corporate buyers find and select professional services firms. For more than a decade, they have helped firms grow through thought leadership-fueled strategies, including public relations, content marketing, video marketing, social media, podcasting, marketing strategy services and more.
To learn more, visit www.rep-ink.com or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org today.
[00:00:00] Daniel Steinberg: It's important to make yourself more operationally efficient, especially in these tight times. You don't want to look at what that technology did for you for that 30 days. You want to say, what did that technology, or what can that technology do for us on an annualized basis? I think that's really important.
[00:00:17]: Welcome to “Spill The Ink,” a podcast by Reputation Ink, where we feature experts in growth and brand visibility for law firms and architecture, engineering, and construction firms. Now, let's get started with the show.
[00:00:35] Michelle Calcote King: Hey, everyone! I'm Michelle Calcote King. I'm your host and the principal and president of Reputation Ink. We're a public relations and content marketing agency for law firms and other professional services firms. To learn more, go to www.rep-ink.com.
With new technology like ChatGPT making its way into the market, it's no surprise there's a lot of buzz about the implications artificial intelligence might have on fields like marketing. But this isn't the first invention to give people a “the robots are taking over” vibe.In reality, these tools are designed to enhance our skills and capabilities, not to replace them. Plus they can be very profitable. In the legal world, learning to maximize technology means law firms can get the most bang for their buck with their marketing budget.
I'm excited to dive into this topic on today's show. Welcome, Daniel Steinberg to join the conversation. He's the founder and CEO of Lawbrokr. Lawbrokr builds software to support law firms with their sales and marketing, making it easier for consumers to access legal services. Welcome to the show, Daniel.
[00:01:45] Daniel Steinberg: Thank you so much for having me. This is going to be exciting.
[00:01:48] Michelle Calcote King: Yes. I'm excited to talk in general about tech, but I'd first love to start with you explaining Lawbrokr to me. We've talked before, but I'd love for you to explain what it is and how law firms can use it.
[00:02:03] Daniel Steinberg: You start with the easy ones. I love it. Hopefully, this works out well.
My company Lawbrokr is really focused on the front-end experience of a law firm. We enhance the way that a consumer would interact with lawyers, your law firm, and intake staff prior to the conversation happening directly with you. We act as this bridge between the interaction point of what I would refer to as pre-qualification, into the intake flow.
We act as a sales and marketing platform, like you said, that's highly focused on conversion of disqualifying and qualifying your clients so that you can capture better data in an online format, so that they can make you as a law firm smarter and better and have more meaningful conversations. That's where we focus and I'm sure we can get into the nuances of it, but that's really the core crux of our platform.
[00:02:59] Michelle Calcote King: On your website, you talk about creating a storefront. What is a storefront exactly, and how does that differ from a website?
[00:03:07] Daniel Steinberg: Yes, very good question because messaging is super important and we're in the works of what that looks like. A storefront for us is our brand name for our product view. The reason that we go with that messaging is because we really are trying to digitize the law firm experience online. To us, that feels as though we're taking your potentially brick-and-mortar storefront and turning that into a virtual way of interaction point. We mimic consumer psychology of how consumers think and feel when they operate and interact with Shopify e-commerce stores or other interaction points that they do in a more commoditized setting than the legal space.
For us, a storefront, and what it is and how it differentiates from your website, is we focus on what's referred to as a landing page. A landing page is a hyper-focused moment in time that keeps the consumer very, like I said, digitally focused on what the problem at hand is and how do they solve for that problem. We deskin your website, so we act as this extension to your website in a very high-intent moment, like a call to action button, whether that be book a consultation or living in different areas on the internet that a consumer might find you.That could be Google Ads, Google My Business, Marketplace, contact us forms, so on and so forth. Again, it's more along the lines of someone's virtually raised their hand and said, "I need help." How do we help them solve that problem? You usually solve that problem through hyper-focused moments like a landing page.
[00:04:49] Michelle Calcote King: Got it. Your ideal type of law firm to use this, explain that. What are the ideal firms for this kind of tech?
[00:04:59] Daniel Steinberg: We're an extension to your marketing really. We're focused on firms that are trying to elevate their brand digitally, whether that be through social platforms, Google Ads and Facebook Ads, et cetera. We act as a conversion play to that. We try and help your clicks and conversions elevate to the next level based off your marketing spend. In that vein, we're really focused on that 5 to 30-person law firm that is trying to elevate the experience while guiding the clients through what legal services they offer.
We have a light version of our package that's focused on solo and small practitioners that are trying to grow their practice and take it to the next level, and expand and really try and dip into the marketing spend. But our core focus is that 5 to 30-person law firm traditionally focused on personal legal transactions, but we are practice area agnostic.
[00:05:59] Michelle Calcote King: Great. Can you explain, how do you view the legal sales and marketing funnel? What's a typical funnel look like? How does a consumer navigate through that?
[00:06:12] Daniel Steinberg: With Lawbrokr or before Lawbrokr? I think part of the reason we've slotted our business into this, what we refer to as pre-qualification is the legal industry as it stands prior to a system like Lawbrokr is very much 0 to 100. A consumer comes in, they're highly stressed that one of the most impactful moments of their time, whether happy or sad, at the end of the day, there are stressors when it comes down to the legal interactions. As soon as they either pick up the phone and call a law practice or virtually use contact us forms and things like that, it goes from first interaction all the way through what we would refer to as the intake process.
The unfortunate reality is intake is super frictional. Consumers aren't willing to divulge a bunch of information until they're ready to retain your law firm. What we're missing there, and the reason why the process as it stands today is very revolved around price sensitivity is as law firms, as lawyers, we're not so focused on building out that first impression that matters most and leveraging data to really sell against the client's challenges and pains. The reason for that is actually traditionally because of the uneducation piece in the consumer market.
If you haven't educated your consumer on what those legal problems are that you're able to solve for, well then traditionally everyone's going to ask what the price is, shop around, and go after whatever the cheapest price may be. With a tool like Lawbrokr or other pre-qualification formats, it doesn't just have to be Lawbrokr, the point and value there is to really understand the client before you speak to them, so that your first impression is more focused on: This is how my law firm operates, this is how we can support you in your legal needs, and this is how it would happen within our practice.
When you do that, you're really guiding an uneducated consumer through what that legal process may be, and you're making them feel a lot more supported in order to adopt your law practice and move forward with the case. It's a bit clunky in the way that it happens right now. Again, it leads the consumer in this open-ended conversation of where do I go and what do I do? That's part of the reason why we're trying to solve for that.
[00:08:42] Michelle Calcote King: Great. Just for people who might be listening, who might not be as familiar with some of these terms, talk me through pre-qualification. What do you mean by that?
[00:08:54] Daniel Steinberg: Pre-qualification, qualification, they're all embedded in that same bucket, but it's really around, I know what my law firm does. Based off what I do, is that client the right—someone referred to this the other day, so I'm going to use the same language—is that person the right avatar for our law practice? A lot of firms, actually, a lot of businesses are like, "I want as much revenue as possible." Sometimes when you actually bring on the wrong individual, the wrong person, the wrong case, it actually backfires and it's more costly for you in the long run.
Same way in business, if I brought on a business that isn't the right fit for Lawbrokr and that customer cancels, that's a lot more costly for me to bring that client on than if I didn't and I said, "Thank you so much. This is what we do. Unfortunately, we're not a fit for you." We as law firms and lawyers have to be okay with saying we want the quality case that we know we're really good at, and we can satisfy, over the quantity metric, whether we are having a slow month or not. The reason for that is because there is this cyclical cycle of how you drive new business in the future.Driving new business is very revolved around advocacy and referrals and things like that. So long as you're focused from the front-end side of things, bringing on the right cases, it's really going to help you continue to build and grow your practice from there on out, whether you're bringing on one or two clients that are high quality versus 5 to 10 that are high quantity. The qualification piece is really who is that right persona for me that we know we can support every single day?
[00:10:35] Michelle Calcote King: Without a solution like Lawbrokr, are many firms doing that qualification process manually? Are they getting on the phone, having conversations, that kind of thing?
[00:10:47] Daniel Steinberg: I think they definitely are. I think that there is a front of office that is either picking up the phone and having those conversations or initial interactions. Then there's also the traditional way of doing it, which would be a Contact us form. Problem with those two methods is there's no standardization to it. Law firms find clients in a magnitude of different ways. It could be their website, their contact us forms, their Google My Business, their Google Ads, their social media, referral sources and calling in.Those are seven different, distinctive ways that a client can interact with you. If you're not standardizing the way that you're interacting with them, the questions that you ask change. The way that you interact with that client changes. From an efficiency perspective, there's too many ways to interact with potential clients, and sometimes the right client slides through the cracks, and that's what we're trying to solve for.
To answer your question, I do think there is a form of qualifying today. At the end of the day, sometimes it's also up to the client, and it might be qualified, but the experience might have not been to what the standards were for that consumer, and that's where you ultimately lose cases.
[00:12:03] Michelle Calcote King: We all know the legal industry is not the most progressive when it comes to tech or innovation sometimes. What are some of the objections that you're getting? Are you getting many objections, or do you think law firms are really starting to understand the importance of these technologies to streamline and improve their practices?
[00:12:30] Daniel Steinberg: It's a really good question. I think that comes down to do we practice what we preach on the qualification side of things? Our focus is finding the right law firms that do spend money on marketing activities, and making sure that we can enhance the way that they do that. That being said, there's definitely some apprehensions when it comes down to another piece of technology. What I think is really important to recognize and what we very much focused on when building our systems was how do we ultimately keep it as simple as possible? There's a lot of legal tech solutions that consistently pop up, and they're extremely valuable to a law practice.
That being said, it's very frictional for someone to stop, drop, and roll, and ultimately implement another technology when 30 people in their law practice have to onboard, train; they might have to do a migration. Does it implement with our current systems and so forth? If you're as a legal tech founder creating those frictions, that's where the objections ultimately happen. I think where we're focused on Lawbrokr is we are an extension to your online presence, which means that there is no onboarding. There is no training. Really, what we're focused on is spin up your storefront.From there, the only thing that matters is you are now collecting more in expanded data in the current systems that you already use.
If you create this complementary product that ultimately doesn't have to consistently tell new staff how to adopt it and how to use it, I think that makes it a lot easier of a transition for a law firm. That being said, there is an education factor to what's the value to me as a law firm when it comes to qualification? I think our job there is explaining and walking through what the importance of conversion is on your marketing spend efficiencies within your law practice, standardizing the way that you ask questions, and ultimately being a really good salesperson.
For me and our team, we are not lawyers. My background is sales partnerships and marketing. We're trying to be these expert advisors on how do you sell? Because at the end of the day, lawyers are enterprise salespeople, whether they look at that or not. They are selling very intensive services at the most impactful moment of a consumer's life traditionally, no matter what that legal problem may be. It is really important to understand that client's challenges and pains a lot and make sure that you're supportive in that realm. Yes, there's always going to be push back when it comes to any technology. It's important to showcase where we can support and how we can.
[00:15:24] Michelle Calcote King: Let's talk ChatGPT, since it's the topic du jour right now everywhere. Are you seeing it used in any way with your clients or with your work?
[00:15:41] Daniel Steinberg: I think a lot of legal tech companies haven't— I don't want to use the word pivot— but have adopted ChatGPT and white-labeled that into some of their solutions to support, whether that be document automation or looking specific things up or writing paragraphs or decisions in that matter, and have embedded it in the technology that some law firms have already used and are paying for to date. That being said, we're too far away from that to understand how lawyers are using it or if lawyers are using it.
We don't have it within our technology. I think it's an incredibly powerful tool. I don't think that it can replace law firms. I think it can only enhance the way that you operate. When we think about technology at Lawbrokr, we think about how does our platform help enhance the way lawyers and firm admins and law firms in general practice law? How do we enhance that to make your lives that much easier and better, so that you can focus on the things that you're meant to focus on?Whether we did adopt AI tools and technology and things like that, it would only be from an enhancement perspective. I think there's still a lot of unknowns when it comes down to the legalities behind it from decision-making and things like that. It is a really exciting topic, and I know that the legal world as a whole is really excited about it and I see it all the time.
[00:17:12] Michelle Calcote King: I see almost excitement and fear.I think, both. It's that way with any new technology, there's a little bit of trepidation until you understand it and how it's going to improve what you do on a day-to-day.
Tell me also your thoughts on — and I hate to even bring it up because I can't stand hearing it — but there have been all these layoffs in legal tech. There's been a pullback on some funding, or at least from what I see. It's hard to know exactly what's happening.
What do you see where the legal tech market is right now?
[00:17:54] Daniel Steinberg: I think there will continue to be disruptors within the industry. I think that the layoffs are a factor of unfortunate business conditions that exist and market conditions that exist. I think funding will be tighter and more conservatively dispersed. At the end of the day, as most people know, legal is one of the most laggered industries, and it's consistently beginning to adopt new technologies. We've seen that since the COVID days or the early COVID days and making people move out of office, in-home, and so forth.It's something that, at the end of the day, law firms and lawyers weren't used to in their everyday lives. I've been doing that since I've been in tech for five to six years. For us, it was normalized, but for this industry, they're starting to adopt more and more technology. I'm excited about the future of legal tech. I think that there's going to be peaks and valleys of new companies, amd potentially some companies not being able to get funding or adoption within those businesses. I definitely think there's more of a conservative approach when it comes to adopting new legal technology.Pricing yourself appropriately and showcasing the return on that for a law firm is really important because at the end of the day, law firms and lawyers are really focused on how do we get and acquire net new cases? I think that for us within the legal space, it is definitely a recession-proof — to an extent — business. You're always going to need technology to enhance your practice, whether you believe that or not. It's important to make yourself more operationally efficient, especially in these tight times.
[00:19:43] Michelle Calcote King: Right. It becomes even more important.
[00:19:45] Daniel Steinberg: Although a big factor is looking at things from a conservative mindset and making sure that you're spending appropriately when adopting legal tech, is probably a good way to say that, I think it's important for law firms to look at things from a macro-level perspective. A lot of legal tech companies position themselves on a month-to-month subscription and annual subscription. That's great. You can acquire things from a month-to-month so that you can save capital on a monthly basis, but at the end of the day, you don't want to look at what that technology did for you for that 30 days. You want it to say, what did that technology, or what can that technology do for us on an annualized basis? I think that's really important.
[00:20:26] Michelle Calcote King: Did COVID among your client base really…. Did you feel that clients were like, "Oh, wait, I need to invest more in technology,” because of this shift and how people are navigating honestly just the world in general, like other sectors where there was just this big rush to digitization and improving how they do things digitally?"
[00:20:56] Daniel Steinberg: I think that's a great question. When COVID first hit, I was actually working at Clio, so I was running partnerships at Clio during COVID. We definitely saw a mass adoption of cloud technology and an operating system that can help your firm navigate the conditions from anywhere, and work remotely and be okay with that. Of course, you start to see the adoption of Zoom and tools like that and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and so forth. From my business perspective, when I had left Clio, we actually started as a marketplace.We did see a mass adoption of people needing net new clients to continue to survive and thrive through those times. That was great. For us, there was a lot of marketplaces that popped up and our goal was how do we make sure that we take our technology and augment different ways that consumers interact with you versus being that necessary source of truth, which is why we've shifted our business to saying, "Hey, this is how you would interact with a consumer, where they find you anywhere through one dedicated hyperlink."
To answer your question, I did see definitely adoption from a technology perspective during COVID, but it also depends on what that legal tech business was. I think the first and foremost was, how do we get a cloud solution that helps our law firm operate and transition to a remote working world? Since then, there's been a lot more adoption of technology in general to enhance your firm.
[00:22:31] Michelle Calcote King: Is there another tool or platform or category of tech that you see besides your own really taking hold that we haven't talked about yet that people should be on the lookout for? Is there a particular area that you see that it's going to really take off?
[00:22:49] Daniel Steinberg: I think there's a lot from document automation perspectived, subscription services and how law firms reposition their law practice as you get into this new age of law. We talked about the laggard industry of adoption of technology. I also think that a lot of smaller law firms — and I'm speaking from a small law firm perspective because that's who we work with — are starting to adopt and look at fixed fee services and things like that.
There are some tools that I love and I think have done a great job positioning that, like Fidu Legal and Documate from a document automation perspective that just actually rebranded themselves to Gavel, to really hone in on what their purpose and mission is. Those are great tools to look at and adopt. Again, it's all about efficiencies and redeploying and adopting technology. Like we talked about earlier, there's a lot of technology that have adopted AI and machine learning to help you be smarter and work better.Again, not to replace the law firm, but work better, be smarter, and capture more insights in a magnitude of different ways. There's a ton of technologies that do that. Here in Canada, there's one, Rally Legal, there's Josef in Europe, and there's a ton of other tools that across the board are using different types of technologies throughout. The way that I look at it is, what lifecycle of the business are you looking to solve a pain in? When we think about what Jack Newton said, who's the CEO of Clio. The book that he wrote, it's all about this client-centered law firm.You can't just adopt technology at one point of the consumer journey. The consumer journey starts with a tool or a system like pre-qualification and Lawbrokr. but then funnels into the intake platforms, of the likes like Clio Grow or Lawmatics and tools like that. Then funnels through to the more operational systems of invoicing, billing, maintaining client portals, and so forth, and follow through all the way to advocacy. That lifecycle has to have some piece of technology or have some type of process in place in order for you to really create a frictionless experience for your customers on an ongoing basis.
It doesn't just start with your first impression at Lawbrokr. It's actually your first impression sets the stage, but you have to make sure that you have processes in place throughout the case and the file and thereafter to make sure that ultimately you're growing your business because it is cyclical, whether you're a law firm, a business like yours, a business like mine, or anything like that.
[00:25:36] Michelle Calcote King: I like to always end interviews with this question. What is the most valuable lesson you hope people listening today might take away from our discussion?
[00:25:50] Daniel Steinberg: Let me pause on that so I have a good answer.
[00:25:51] Michelle Calcote King: Yes, I know. [laughs]
[00:25:54] Daniel Steinberg: That's hard. Selfishly I obviously want to educate people on the importance of qualifying your opportunities. At the end of the day, and that's obviously the business that we're in, but if you take one piece of advice, it's what we just alluded to, which is think about your law firm holistically. It's not just adopting a technology like Lawbrokr, it's not just adopting a technology like Clio or a document automation tool. You need to have a plan in place, a process, and a budget associated to technology, and technology lives across every process of the legal journey.That's one of the most important things that a law firm should be thinking about, whether you are a modern law firm and have implemented a COO at your firm, a marketing manager, a coordinator, and so forth, a firm administrator. These are things that ultimately you want to plan for, because you do have to have budget and line items for them, and you can't be as efficient as possible with a bunch of different tools that don't talk to each other or just one tool in general and say that you're modern and fixated in the way that you're able to work remotely now, and that's good and done.
There's a bunch of different ways that ultimately are integral to running a strong law practice from a technological perspective. Sometimes adopting too much technology can hurt you, but adopting the right technology that plays into one another and can automate a lot of your processes is what's important.
[00:27:35] Michelle Calcote King: That's great. Thank you so much. This was very interesting.
We have been talking to Daniel Steinberg of Lawbrokr. Where's the best place if people want to get in touch, should they go to LinkedIn or your website? What's the best place for people to reach out to you?
[00:27:49] Daniel Steinberg: Huge LinkedIn advocate. I think it's my favorite social network. You can add me, Daniel Steinberg/DSteinberg on LinkedIn. If you want to go learn more about Lawbrokr, you can visit us at lawbrokr.com, L-A-W-B-R-O-K-R.com. Always just happy to have conversations and learn about what's happening in the industry and how people are thinking about pre-qualification and new technology.
[00:28:18] Michelle Calcote King: Great. Thank you so much.
[00:28:20] Daniel Steinberg: Thanks so much.
[00:28:24]: Thanks for listening to “Spill The Ink,” a podcast by Reputation Ink. We'll see you again next time, and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.
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