Most clients can’t tell if you are a good lawyer or a great one. But they can tell when they’ve been treated rudely. They know when their concerns are being ignored. A polite and kind legal assistant who always answers client calls and resolves issues quickly can significantly benefit your firm by improving client satisfaction rates.
This becomes even more impactful when AI powers your assistant. Imagine having a personal assistant who is always ready to answer your clients’ questions, give you instant access to information, and automate administrative tasks. That’s precisely what virtual legal assistants (VLAs) and AI-powered chatbots can do. They make your life easier, and you and your clients benefit from enhanced engagement and cost-effectiveness.
And the best part? Today’s VLAs are more powerful than ever, thanks to generative AI.
What Makes AI-Powered Virtual Legal Assistants So Smart?
VLAs train on data from vast legal knowledge bases using natural language processing capabilities and machine learning algorithms to hone their understanding of legal language and interpret complex legal concepts. They can respond more succinctly than ever to answer client questions, triage incoming requests, provide details, and trigger automated workflows that ensure lawyers handle legal issues efficiently and effectively.
Law firms integrate VLAs and chatbots into their websites, communications systems, proprietary apps, and client portals. Similarly, in-house lawyers integrate VLA functionalities into their internal systems and workflows. Their 24/7 availability allows VLAs to deliver round-the-clock support, providing needed information instantly.
Leverage Generative AI To Save Time And Money
Time and cost savings stem from VLAs eliminating the need for lawyers to answer basic questions and staff human assistants to handle routine calls and requests. For example, insurance companies can reduce up to 30% of customer service costs by allowing agents to leverage generative AI tools to make quick decisions based on real-time data and automate routine tasks such as document handling. This frees up time for high-value activities like offering customers personalized counsel and new offers to strengthen relationships and spur growth.
Lawyers can access similar savings using VLAs to handle multiple client inquiries and administrative processes simultaneously. Tap your VLA to quickly access information during team meetings and client consultations and feel confident knowing you get consistent and accurate information backed by data. VLAs provide a “just-the-facts” response free from human error and inconsistencies. Benefits like these foster trust and communication among legal team members and clients.
An Up-Close Look At A VLA’s Value In Client Intake
While engaging with potential clients online, a VLA can gather essential information to quickly evaluate leads, helping lawyers prioritize new clients more efficiently. VLAs can similarly streamline the new matter intake process in legal departments.
Consider how prospective clients can sometimes engage human assistants in extensive explanations that aren’t necessary at an early stage. A VLA asks targeted questions and collects specific, relevant details, minimizing the time involved.
If that information meets pre-established criteria, the VLA can then connect the caller with the most appropriate lawyer based on their legal needs and the lawyer’s expertise. The caller is sent to the right place the first time and spared the time and frustration of repeating themselves.
Suppose the details don’t meet the requirements for a new client or new matter intake. In that case, the VLA can offer the caller additional information, send them to another resource, and trigger the creation of an automated letter declining representation. Whatever the action required, automation ensures every caller receives the appropriate attention as quickly as possible.
VLAs Are Not Stand-Alone, Set-Once-And-Forget-Them Products
VLAs come with their fair share of challenges. The complexity of legal inquiries and nuanced legal concepts can throw a VLA for a loop. They don’t always understand the legal context of every situation. Lawyers must also comply with data privacy regulations and ensure robust security measures to protect data from unauthorized access and breaches.
As AI capabilities evolve, new ethical issues will arise. VLAs require ongoing training and maintenance to manage ethical concerns and ensure they provide accurate and reliable information. They also need regular updates to stay up-to-date and comply with evolving laws and regulations.
Today, lawyers must balance the advantages of using AI with maintaining ethical responsibilities and human judgment when providing legal advice. This includes programming VLAs to refrain from offering legal advice beyond their capabilities and to defer to human lawyers when situations demand.
With these and other safeguards in place, VLAs will continue revolutionizing how lawyers work. The capabilities above are just a few of a VLA’s many skills. Have you used a VLA to augment your work? How did it help you provide better client services? Do you envision yourself adopting a VLA soon? Let me know in the comments below!
Olga V. Mack is the VP at LexisNexis and CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and had dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She founded the Women Serve on Boards movement that advocates for women to participate on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. She authored Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board Seat, Fundamentals of Smart Contract Security, and Blockchain Value: Transforming Business Models, Society, and Communities. She is working on Visual IQ for Lawyers, her next book (ABA 2023). You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.