Technology to Meet Clients’ Changing Needs

How technology can make practice easier

Technology to Meet Clients’ Changing Needs

You have probably heard it before, there are a staggering number of self-represented litigants in British Columbia. In 2011, 57% of hearings held under the British Columbia Family Relations Act in Provincial Court included one or both self-represented litigants. The same trend is happening in civil courts.1

This begs the question – why, as lawyers, are we willing to forgo assisting 57% of (potential) clients? Is there a way we can adapt our practice model so that these individuals are not having to go it alone?

One option to assist is through unbundling legal services. Unbundling services entails doing a set amount of work for a fixed fee, and can be a middle ground between a person having no assistance and full representation. Statistics show that while many people may not be able to afford full representation, they can afford some legal services.

For a lawyer who is considering moving to unbundled services it is likely to result in more smaller files. With more small files, the volume of work requires efficiency in providing the services. The good news is that technology can help. The even better news is that the same technology which makes it easier to assist clients, also makes practioners’ lives easier.


Consider whether you already have the technology and may simply not be using it to its full extent. For example, if you are repeating the same or similar information on a regular basis you can automate it in Microsoft Word. In Word you can save phrases and portions of documents as a Quick Parts or you can set up sentences that Word automatically completes after typing only a few characters. To try this feature, go to “Help” in Word and ask for help to “automatically insert text.”


If there is an area of your practice that can be streamlined, it is worth checking to see if someone has already solved that problem with technology. There are tools for everything, whether it’s document automation, remote receptionists, scheduling assistance, systems development, email management or search engine optimization.

For example, is intake labour intensive? You could have the information from the intake form automatically populate into your file management system. Platforms like Lexicata integrate with Clio and Outlook. Integration makes it possible for a client to do their intake form online and have the information go directly into your practice management system where it can be used to generate documents. No more wasting time on data entry – the clients do it for you. I have my intake form on my website so clients can fill it out without needing a separate form sent to them.

Is processing payments tedious? The easier it is to pay a bill, the more likely you are to get paid. I have Law Pay set up on my website so clients can easily pay their bills, whether it’s a retainer payment or a general payment. It makes it easier for clients and my assistant does not have to manually process payments.

Technology is increasingly part of the practice of law. It can be intimidating, but it provides a unique opportunity to make our lives and the lives of our clients easier. Using technology also makes it possible to assist clients who might otherwise need to go it alone, allowing us to serve the changing legal landscape.

  1. The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants. May 2013. Dr. Julie MacFarlane. |

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