I had two interesting conversations with law firm clients last week.
Both involved scenarios under which our automation would improve an overall business process and result in the law firm needing to do less in generating draft documents.
Neither conversation was based on wanting to pay the lawyers less.
One person I spoke to was an in-house lawyer. The other was a business owner. Neither was looking to pay the law firm less due to the more efficient process. Rather, they want to be sure that the work is being done as efficiently as possible, that they are paying for valuable activities, and that the time for their overall business process (and to get to the outcomes they really need) is as short as possible. They expect that with less time required for drafting, the lawyers would be able to spend more time thinking about what really matters to protect the client's interests and deliver the best overall outcome.
One of the clients also identified the disconnect between hourly rates and value. He regularly pays relatively high fees for work based on hourly rates, which he is okay with. However, he had noticed that he received enormous value recently from a law firm for something that would have only involved 1-2 hours of work for the law firm (because of their existing knowledge), and he would have paid more for that.
We talk to law firms regularly who are worried that if clients are aware that they are using automation and working more quickly, they will expect to pay less. These conversations indicate that this is not the case. In fact, with more time to think and leverage existing knowledge, the law firm could add a lot more value that clients would be prepared to pay for.
They also indicate that if the law firm is not taking the initiative to improve the process, clients are looking to do it themselves.